Imagine Thomas Pedersen out for a night on the town. The beer is flowing. The music is pumping. The world is spinning. The clock won’t stop moving toward morning. Pedersen may be exhausted. He may simply be running on fumes.
But he won’t leave.
Pedersen will be the last man standing, the last of his friends to go home, no matter where they are. It’s compulsive. He knows no other way to be.
“I cannot miss out on anything,” he explained.
It’s this story Pedersen tells when offered the chance to say anything he wants about himself. He doesn’t first offer anything about poker or his life outside it. He wants you to know only this: he’ll be the last man standing. It’s not so much a fierce competitive drive as much as the simple need to see everything to its end. To miss out on nothing.
This, perhaps, could go a long way toward explaining how Pedersen battled his way through more than 1,600 people, nearly all of whom had put up some equivalent of $5,200, for the title to the world’s biggest online poker event of the the year. Early this morning, Pedersen (known to most on PokerStars as Kallllle) won $1,260,018.50 and the 2011 WCOOP main event title.
“This victory is the greatest you can achieve online,” he said. “Together with the money, the prestige and the bracelet, this is a special feeling.”
At age 15, Pedersen found his first job. He was a dishwasher in a cafe. The head chef took a liking to him.
“He insisted that I should have a nickname,” Pedersen said, “which turned out to be Kalle.”
It never made sense to Pedersen. Kalle was just the name of a former employee, and it didn’t seem like much of a good nickname at all. Before long, all his co-workers were calling him Kalle. By the time he started playing poker, the name had stuck.
That start in poker came seven years ago when Pedersen started playing parttime. Three years later, he made the game his job. He focused on Pot-Limit Omaha and made some pretty big scores. He hit once online for sixty grand. He scored $80,000 live.
But never anything like this morning. Never $1.2 million.
Since then he’s tried to wrap his head around the whole prospect of becoming an instant star. Sitting in his home in the seaside city of Aarhus, Denmark, Pedersen can’t even figure out what to do with that kind of money. The best he can come up with 12 hours after seeing the cash appear in his poker account is maybe he’ll invest in some property. Maybe. Who knows? He’s a millionaire now, and he wasn’t one 24 hours ago. Thats some heady stuff.
It all happened so quickly. It took him just two days to go from poker grinder to millionaire, to champion, to the talk of the poker world. It’s enough to go to one’s head.
“Well, now I am officially online world champion,” he said with a smile. “So, the next step must be the live world champion.”
Maybe so. Maybe it will happen. What’s to stop it, anyway? After all, Pedersen isn’t just a poker player. He isn’t just the World Champion of Online Poker. He is a man that refuses to miss out on anything. That is, is given the chance, he will be the last man standing.