Monday, 22nd April 2024 09:23
Home / Poker / Another Spadie and €43,600 for Griffin Benger after a surreal night at EPT Paris

PokerStars commentator Griffin Benger tells us how a chance encounter with an old friend led to his latest Hyper-Turbo victory.


When you or I bump into an old friend at night who is already a few beers deep, they probably suggest you either a) Drink more with them, or b) Do something you’ll almost certainly regret tomorrow.

But not Griffin Benger. When the PokerStars commentator bumps into an old friend, he ends up registering for a €1,100 Hyper Turbo with them, then goes on to win it, and wakes up €43,600 better off.

Talk about a good friend.

“Last night was surreal,” Benger tells us as he arrives at work for his commentating shift on Day 3 of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Paris stop.

“I hadn’t even thought about playing but I had my dinner and bumped into an old friend – Stephen Woodhead, we call him Woody – who was coming out of the Canadian Embassy Pub [a popular hangout directly opposite the EPT Paris venue].”

Woody told Benger he was about to register for the €1,100 Hyper Turbo – event #27 on the Paris schedule – and suggested Benger join him.

“He had this buzz about him. It was my last shift off so I had a little window to play, and I thought, why not?”

Benger was in the mood to play

NOT HIS FIRST SPADIE

He might now be retired from the full-time poker game, but Griffin Benger always keeps enough funds in his PokerStars account just in case he gets inspired to play. Even so, of all the commentating trips he’s made so far, he’s never played more than one hyper-turbo.

“You spend all day talking about poker and sometimes that makes you want to play, and sometimes it makes you want to go back to your room and watch a movie,” he says.

But despite the lack of live volume, he’s now won two of them. Back in November, Benger took down a similar hyper-turbo event at the North American Poker Tour (NAPT) Las Vegas stop for $17,250.

Nice score in Vegas for Benger

Once he’d agreed to tag along with Woody, Benger scrambled through the process of signing up for the necessary casino cards and entered the Paris tournament at the last minute. 

FROM PUB TO RAIL

Back in his pro poker days, Griffin Benger would study the game intensely. It’s what helped him amass more than $6.7 million in online winnings and almost $4.5 million won live.

But these days, it’s his commentary duties that keep him sharp. “I might not be running sims and stuff, but I’m watching some of the best players in the world play at the highest level. I’ve always been a sponge for that kind of stuff,” he says.

Griffin Benger in the booth alongside Sam Grafton and Joe Stapleton

Throughout the tournament, he had friends messaging him telling him that when he busted he should join them for a pint at the pub. But when Benger made the final table, they all came over to cheer him on.

Benger admits there were spots at the final table where he wasn’t sure if he’d made the proper ICM move. But with so little time to play, he decided to just go with his gut.

“There’s something fun and special in those moments,” he says. “It’s not like I’m going to see a certain situation another 100 times so I had to make the +EV decision. I just don’t play enough, so, in a way, I could just do what I wanted.”

FRIENDS AND NEMESES

Belgian pro Bart Lybaert – who has $3.9 million in live winnings – proved to be Griffin Benger’s nemesis throughout the entire event. “He’s a really skilled player,” Benger says. “He outplayed me in a hand early on, then we were sat next to each other at the final table.”

Lybaert held the chip lead and Benger remembers two particular hands where they clashed on the final table. “I was probably meant to ICM fold but I just said, let’s go after him and hope for the best,” he says. “And it worked out.”

Ultimately Benger topped the 215-entry field, winning €43,600. “I just ran really well and suddenly found myself winning another Spade,” he says.

And naturally, Stephen “Woody” Woodhead gets a cut.

“Oh, of course, we swapped,” Benger says, laughing. “He was my jumping-off point, my inspiration. He’s a gentle giant and always has a big smile on his face. 

“That’s a great thing about this community. When you make friends, you swap little pieces and they come and rail the final table. It makes it extra special and it was a great night.”

You can listen to Benger and the rest of the commentary team – James Hartigan, Joe Stapleton, and Nick Walsh – right now on the EPT Paris live stream.

MORE FROM EPT PARIS:

EPT PARIS COVERAGE HUB
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FULL TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
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