Note: PokerStars qualifier Erik Friberg, who won his seat to the WSOP in a PokerStars double shootout, now sits in second place in chips with 27 players remaining. The reticent Swede shared a few thoughts with our European chief, Howard Swains
by Howard Swains
You take a risk approaching poker players during their infrequent breaks in the action. They aren’t going to bite your head off, but they might prefer to be alone. Play at this level takes focus and discipline and the last thing you want to spend your 15 minutes respite doing is answering banal questions from reporters.
Even so, I had to catch up with Erik Friberg, the Swedish qualifier who is currently top among the PokerStars players and the closest of all competitors to the runaway chip-leader. Erik is the picture of calm at the table and the same applies off. He told me that he is 23-years-old, from Stockholm and that he plays online as “lirarerik”, where he won a $160 double shootout to book his spot in Vegas. Typically, the cards were otherwise kept close to his chest; he’s giving nothing away.
“All the Swedes are aggressive, but Erik is about the most aggressive of them all,” explained a Swedish journalist, who is following Friberg’s progress as closely as us. “He’s only 23 but plays all the time at the Stockholm casinos as well as online. He has loads of experience and none of us are surprised to see him here.”
A quick check in the major poker databases reveals a cash in the PokerStars European Poker Tour event in Barcelona, follwed by a first place, for $87,000, in the Swedish Poker Challenge in Stockholm last year. Here, with just 30 players remaining, he’s already assured at least $329,000. Probably a whole lot more.