Name recognition for Griffin Benger is not all that high on the live poker scene. Before today, his total recorded tournament haul was $263,139, which didn’t even earn him a place in the top 150 in Canada.
However, mention the name “Flush_Entity” to any of the online kids and you’ll be met with an approving nod. Benger’s alter ego, behind which he hits the virtual tables, is a monster, with $4.3m in recorded tournament scores. He is a former online world No1.
Today, on his 28th birthday, Benger may also have just come of age as a live player. He has taken down the €10,000 EPT Berlin high roller tournament, earning €429,000 and rather nice Shamballa bracelet, given to all high roller winners this season.
“I dream of being on a big final table,” Benger said. “I wake up in cold sweats thinking about it, literally…I came into the day third of seven and anything but first just wasn’t OK for me. I just had to win and things went my way.”
This was actually Benger’s second “side event” victory of the year, but is bigger by a factor of ten than his success in London last month. This time out, he destroyed a final table that included Max Lykov, Martin Kabrhel, Scott Seiver and James Mitchell, and a tournament field that included 103 of the very best players in the world.
Benger beat Aaron Lim in the final heads up duel, coming into the final stages with a massive chip lead and overcoming a couple of bumps in the road to seal the deal. He folded his cards the first time Lim moved in on him, insisting that he didn’t have a “winner’s photo hand”. And even though Lim doubled up moments later, and kept battling despite a massive chip disadvantage, Benger was also able to keep his cool to prevail.
Eventually he decided Q♣ J♥ was good enough to pose with, propped beside a mountain of chips as he hoists aloft a trophy. And it’s that photo that will be flashing across the news wires tonight, along with Benger’s name, ending his period of relative anonymity in the casinos of the world and ensuring everyone knows just what a shark they’re dealing with when he next sits down.
Seven players returned today to battle for the big bucks, having endured a severe buffeting through a tempestuous day two. Max Lykov and Martin Kabrhel all but shared the chip lead, after playing a weird and wonderful pot as they bagged up last night. But arguably both of them suffered for that hand today: Lykov making a massive hero call a day too late; Kabrhel continuing a gung-ho approach that only ended in despair.
Lykov fell in fourth and Kabrhel in fifth, sandwiched by Mitchell and Joni Jouhkimainen in seventh and sixth, respectively, and Philippe Ktorza in third. The only player not to suffer any real disasters was Benger, who won all the big pots he played and steadily pinched all the chips on offer in the smaller ones.
Benger now leaps more than 100 places up the Canadian money list, but one suspects this is only the first rung on a trip to the very highest echelons. At 28, he is only now entering his prime.
“I’m going to be big timing everyone now,” he said. “If you haven’t got half a million then you’re not my friend.”
Happy birthday and rich congratulations Mr Entity. Party you say?
Seriously though, the partying to ensue this evening will be stuff of legend. It’s gonna get DIFFERENT tonight. Things are gonna get weird.
— Flush_Entity (@GriffinBenger) April 27, 2013
EPT9 Berlin – High Roller
Date: 25-27 April, 2013
Game: No limit hold’em
Players: 103 + 37 re-entries
Prize pool: €1,372,000
1 – Griffin Benger, Canada, €429,000
2 – Aaron Lim, Australia, €240,100
3 – Philippe Ktorza, France, €144,000
4 – Max Lykov, Russia, €102,900
5 – Martin Kabrhel, Czech Republic, €82,300
6 – Joni Jouhkimainen, Finland, €68,600
7 – James Mitchell, UK, €54,900
8 – Scott Seiver, USA, €41,200
9 – Jan-Peter Jachtmann, Germany, €30,300
10 – Ronny Voth, Germany, €30,300
11 – AP Phahurat, USA €27,500
12 – Igor Kurganov, Germany, €27,500
13 – Artem Litvinov, Russia, €24,700
14 – Gautam Sabharwal, India, €24,700
15 – David Peters, USA, €22,000
16 – Georgios Karakousis, Greece, €22,000