Back in Copenhagen, an unfamiliar name found its way to the top of the Day One leaderboard. It belonged to Marc Naalden, apparently from Holland, but even the Dutch journalists in the press corps had no previous knowledge of the man sitting behind the vast stack of chips (“and I know every poker player in Holland,” said one).
In the haste to discover some more details about the enigma, PokerStars blog referred to that font of all knowledge known as Google and unearthed the fact that there was a player with a very similar name who was more accustomed to life around a chess board than a poker table. He even looked a little like our Naalden as well. In its haste to reveal this nugget of information to the masses, PokerStars blog became a little over-enthusiastic and wantonly declared it was in the presence of a Grand Master.
Unfortunately, it was not.
“I read the blog last night,” said Naalden the next day, just before going to the final table where he would eventually finish third and cash for 716 thousand Danish Kroner. “Someone described me as a Grand Master. I am not a Grand Master,” he said.
So, in the interest of accuracy, PokerStars blog can exclusively reveal that Mark Naalden is not a Grand Master. It can, however, reveal that he is quite a poker player. Checking up on the chess player at the break, he’s sitting with just over 30,000 in chips, three times the starting stack and leading his table. That must be somewhere near the summit of the 168 players who remain.
We have also seen this before.
That’s Patrick Mortensson, of Sweden, who finished fourth in Barcelona and also cashed in Dublin. He is doing what he seems to spend a lot of time doing. Counting chips.