Lauri Lehdikko — known as ‘LateTheLion’ in Spraggy’s community and ‘Toast888’ on PokerStars — talks to us about his unbelievable run
Every year, without fail, the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) provides us with heart-warming tales of satellite winners exceeding expectations. They dream big, they play big, and they win big. And poker’s all the better for it.
One such tale from SCOOP 2023 we couldn’t help but notice. It’s the story of a young man from Finland, a regular viewer and poster in PokerStars Team Pro Benjamin “Spraggy” Spragg’s Twitch channel.
If you’re a member of Spraggy’s community yourself, then you’ll know 24-year-old Lauri Lehdikko better by his Twitch handle: LateTheLion. He’s a student studying business at a university in Tampere, Finland.
On May 14, Lehdikko – known as “Toast888” on PokerStars – opened up his client and fired up a $2.20 satellite into the $55 Mini Sunday Million, #39-L of SCOOP 2023. He only started playing poker two years ago and usually plays buy-ins up to $22, so the $55 price tag was a bit steep.
Lehdikko managed to win his way into the event for a fraction of the price, booking his seat among 14,076 entries.
Two nights later, he was on the final table. And when all was said and done, Lehdikko had finished in third place for an eye-watering $44,473.
“Congratulations mate, what an unbelievable run,” Spraggy said when he heard the news. “I’m delighted for you. You love to see it. One of our own.”
To find out more, we talked to Lehdikko about how he wound up winning the satellite, the experience of going deep in such a huge tournament, and the support he received from Spraggy’s community and beyond.
You can read an abridged version of that conversation below.
“THE EMOTIONS REALLY HIT ME”
PokerStars Blog: First off, how are you feeling right now? It’s such a massive score!
Lauri Lehdikko: It’s such an unbelievable feeling. It certainly took a while to comprehend what had just happened after the tournament finished, and right after I got knocked out I didn’t even fully realise it. The emotions really hit me around 20 minutes after the final hand and honestly, it was such a surreal feeling.
Almost none of my real-life friends or family members know anything about poker but they were very supportive and happy for me after this score. And obviously, I had to call my mom soon after the result!
What does a regular poker session look like for you? What buy-ins do you usually play and how often do you play?
My regular poker session probably looks very similar to a lot of smaller grinders of the game. I usually play two or three times a week depending on how much free time I have left after all the other responsibilities in life. During the weekend my session can last up to 12 hours but during the week I sometimes play some smaller sessions lasting around 5-6 hours.
I’m mostly playing up to six tables at a time but during those hectic Sunday sessions, the table count can go up to 10 tables, which probably affects my overall ability on the felt. Right now regarding the buy-ins, I’m playing anything between $4.40 and $22 tournaments and occasionally playing a little bit above or below those limits. I started playing poker around two years ago playing a lot of 50-cent Sit & Go’s on Pokerstars so I’m already very happy with where I’m at in the poker world and just being a profitable player at these stakes.
You satellited into the event for just $2.20. Can you walk us through that process? How did the satellite go and what strategies did you implement?
Satellite tournaments are always a big part of my sessions because I like to take shots at higher buy-ins while also using good bankroll management, which is exactly why satellites are great.
I feel like I have a big edge in satellites versus the average player, especially at the lower stakes. A lot of players make the mistake of playing too many hands just to win chips even though they would have a seat locked up already, and I think I’m pretty good at being aware of the spots where I still need to win chips or where I don’t need to call even with pocket aces.
To be honest I don’t remember any specifics about that exact satellite since I play a lot of them every session and implement the same strategy. In satellites, I play like I normally would at the start of the tournament but when the tournament is approaching the money places, I will go all in or fold a lot more compared to normal tournaments.
Also, you need to call all-ins a lot tighter than in chipEV scenarios. Satellites are very interesting because of the different spots that come up and just open-mucking pocket aces could be the right play in satellites where as in other tournaments that would be crazy.
Did you do anything to prepare for the event once you’d won your seat?
After I won the ticket I didn’t prepare for the tournament in any specific way. I approached the tournament as I would approach almost any other tournament but kept in mind that the quality of play would most likely be a little bit higher compared to the smaller buy-in tournaments. But with the massive prize pool and a lot of players, I was confident that I would do just fine. I have played these higher buy-in tournaments a lot after satelliting in, so I wasn’t out of my comfort zone.
Could you break down how the tournament went overall? What were the key moments?
I had a good start to the tournament early on and I had an above-average stack for most of Day 1. The real hot run started close to the end of Day 1 where I opened pocket tens from an early position having around 20 big blinds. The small blind went all-in and I called. Unfortunately, I was massively behind to pocket jacks but a magic ten appeared on the river.
I entered Day 2 188th out of 247 remaining. It started off well, chipping up a little bit during the first hands. Then I won a flip with pocket tens against ace-king to take me up to around 60 big blinds.
A big momentum swing came when I won an all-in with ace-king versus pocket kings and two aces hit the flop. It was an hour before Day 2 ended and I realised Day 3 and the final table was very much up for grabs. I was chip leader on my table with two tables remaining.
What went through your head when you reached the final table?
After I reached the final table, I was very very excited. The payout for 9th place was already around 2.5x higher than my previous best result so obviously I was already very happy with the run overall.
Playing on a final table is always exciting, no matter the buy-in. But of course, this event being a SCOOP event and having a massive prize pool made it ten times more exciting and fun.
After Day 2, I was so focused and full of adrenaline that I couldn’t even sleep properly. Also, I had just started my summer job and I had agreed to go to work the following day which was certainly not ideal. I finished the day at work and then mentally prepared for the final table a couple of hours later.
You’re a member of Spraggy’s Twitch community. How did it feel having everyone rooting for you?
Honestly, having support from everyone in the Spraggy’s community was very special and it made the whole run feel a hundred times better. I was blown away by the love and good lucks I received during and after the run.
A deep run in a massive field tournament is something I’m sure all poker players dream of and being able to share it with a lot of like-minded people that are supporting you the whole way is something I’m sure I will remember for the rest of my life. I just want to thank everyone in Spraggy’s Twitch community and obviously the streamer himself for the support I received.
In Spraggy’s Discord server, there’s even a dedicated channel where people can join the rail for other members during their deep runs and everyone is always rooting for each other. I have to give special shoutouts to a few members of the community that have been very active on that “railbirds” channel.
A very big thank you to Tweetie46, Banez86, NeverWinPots, and DuckSupe from Spraggy’s Discord who were supporting me from start to finish during that run and especially on Day 2 and Day 3. It was awesome to be able to share some of the crazy hands with them live while playing in the tournament. Also, I have to give a shoutout to another PokerStars Team Pro GJReggie [Georgina James], and her community that also gave me a lot of support before and after Day 3.
You missed out on the SCOOP title but it’s still an amazing achievement. What’s next for you?
Missing out on the SCOOP title hurts a little bit for sure but looking at the run as a whole, I can only be very proud of it. It really was a one-of-a-kind run for me and who knows if I can make it all the way in another SCOOP event later on.
Personally, the score was very big for me right now as a student at university, but I doubt it’s going to change my current lifestyle in a big way. I’m pretty strict with my money overall and don’t like to spend it on stuff that I don’t really need so most of the winnings are just going to be invested for sure.
I’ve just finished my fourth year at the university studying insurance and risk management and the plan is to graduate in a year’s time and buy my own apartment, so this score is certainly going to help with that! The only “big” purchase I have paid for so far was a celebration dinner I had with a couple of my closest friends after the score.
I’m a very competitive person and that shows in poker too. I’m always looking to improve my game and want to keep myself accountable for all the bad plays that I make. With this score, I can certainly invest a lot more in different training sites and programs to constantly keep improving.
Buy-ins wise I will most likely keep playing at similar stakes as I have before for the time being but my goal is to continue my rise in stakes as I have done so far. Good bankroll management is very important and you have to know your own limits in order to keep growing it. That being said, with this score I will certainly take more shots regularly at some of the bigger tournaments with higher buy-ins like the Sunday Million – events I’ve only been able to play before through satellites.
Right now I’m not looking into playing poker professionally but I will definitely keep playing poker as a hobby and maybe someday it will become an even bigger part of my life.Back to Top