The live poker tournament scene has been strong the last couple years, but even so, it is pretty incredible – at least to me – that a non-World Series of Poker tourney could garner 1,682 entries. But that is exactly what the PokerStars Championship Barcelona Main Event did and it was that large of a field (minus one, really) that Sebastian Sorensson defeated to win nearly €1 million over the weekend.
Sorensson is basically my poker fantasy come to life. He is a low-stakes online player who qualified for this tournament via a $200 satellite on PokerStars. Sure, sometimes it gets tense for us even though we play for a few cents or a few bucks at a time because, after all, those few cents or few bucks are not always an insignificant portion of our bankroll. Plus, we’re competitive and want to win. But no matter how seriously we take our hobby, a major live tournament is like another world entirely.
“The days are so, so long,” Sorensson told PokerNews.com afterward. “It’s really exhausting.”
Reading more about how he got started in poker is pretty amazing. In 2015, he bet on underdog Nate Diaz to defeat Michael Johnson in a UFC fight. The underdog came through and Sorensson won $1,000. He then took at $1,000 and bet that Donald Trump would win the Republican Presidential nomination and then let those winnings ride on Trump (ugh) winning the election (emotional hedging, I guess?).
With his gambling bankroll up to $12,000, he decided to take up micro-stakes poker, which led to PokerStars Championship Barcelona.
According to PokerNews, Sorensson played exactly like I would have, me being a fellow micro-stakes player. Once he made the money, he played tight, trying to survive the money jumps. I, myself, did just that in my most successful live tournament adventure, but I only made $3,500 for third place, a FAR FAR FAR cry from what Sorensson just accomplished, so our similarities end there.
Sorensson entered the six-handed final table as the second-shortest stack, holding just 6.125 million chips. For comparison, chip leader Raffaele Sorrentino had 15.5 million. He quickly made more than two million chips in just over one orbit and after 26 hands – just a few after Usman Siddique was knocked out in sixth place – Sorensson was up to 10 million chips. Even more interesting is that he was in fourth place, but the spread between first and fourth was fewer than one million chips. Even Sorrentino, who had fallen to fifth, still had 8.425 million. Things had tightened up quickly.
Sorensson held steady for quite some time, staying within about a million or so of the 10 million chip mark for about another 60 hands, but he eventually lost a big hand to Sorrentino, who was now soaring (more than doubling the chip count we just mentioned), and fell down to close to 5 million.
5 million sounds like a lot of chips, but with blinds at 300,000/600,000, he had to make a move, so he moved all-in on Hand 94, fortunately survived with a worse Ace than Lachezar Plamenov Petkov, when the board allowed them to chop.
After that, there were two speedy eliminations – Andre Akkari in fifth place and Brian Esposito in fourth place – before the 100th hand. Sorensson was the one who got Esposito with A-Q versus K-Q, allowing him to grow his stack to 11.4 million. A few hands later, he was at 16.680 million, still well behind Petkov, who had 22.280 million, but almost equally ahead of Esposito, who was the short stack again with 11.450 million.
With the stacks shallow because of the escalating blinds and the chip counts starting to converge again, the three remaining players eventually discussed a deal. They agreed that Petkov would get the most at €917,347, Sorensson would bank €887,043, and Sorrentino would receive €850,110. They would leave €100,000 on the table as incentive to try to win.
Just four hands later, Sorrentino was eliminated in third place by Sorensson (who had just taken a massive pot from Petkov) and suddenly Sorensson was in complete command of the tournament going into heads-up play with 40.9 million chips versus Petkov’s 9.5 million.
Despite that chip gap, heads-up went on for a long, long time, nearly 70 hands. Petkov even took the lead at one point, but Sorensson regained control quickly and eventually put it away. On the final hand, Petkov went all-in pre-flop for 18.2 million chips with K-9 and Sorensson easily called with A-K. The flop provided Sorensson another Ace and when the turn didn’t give Petkov any of the outs he needed for a runner-runner miracle, it was all over and Sebastian Sorensson became my poker hero.
2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona Final Table Results
1. Sebastian Sorensson – €987,043
2. Lachezar Plamenov Petkov – €917,347
3. Raffaele Sorrentino – €850,110
4. Brian Kaufman Esposito – €402,000
5. Andre Akkari – €317,960
6. Usman Siddique – €252,000