Swedish Poker Pro Mats Rahmn Wins His First WSOP Gold Bracelet
Three Europeans dominate no-limit hold’em final table
Las Vegas, NV –Many people might be surprised to learn that Scandinavia is one of poker’s hottest new markets. Perhaps it’s the cold dark winters. Perhaps it’s the relatively high income and education levels. Or, perhaps it’s the high-tech sophistication of the region. Scandinavians own more personal computers and cell phones, per capita, than any other population group. Not surprisingly, Swedes, Fins, Danes, and Norwegians also play more online poker than any other region.
Leading the way is Sweden, with a total population nine million. Right behind the US, the UK, and Canada – Sweden sends more players to the World Series of Poker than any other nation. Adjusted for population size, Sweden is second only to the United States in the total number of players who play in the WSOP main event. Sweden’s emergence as a poker hub is also now producing world champions.
Mats Rahmn, a 26-year-old professional poker player from Stockholm, won the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em championship at the 2006 World Series of Poker, presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light. More impressive was the fact that Rahmn topped a gigantic field of 2,126 players.
After 2,117 players had been eliminated over two long days, nine players took the final table on the Rio stage. The nine finalists comprised a very tough lineup, although none had previously won a WSOP gold bracelet.
“Boston Billy” Duarte was the first player to exit. The longtime poker pro, who plays in big cash games and at major tournaments around the country, was eliminated with ace-queen against ace-king. Duarte failed to catch a queen, putting him out in ninth place, which paid $58,040.
Ashwin Sarin went out next. The software engineer from Redmond, WA arrived at the final table as the chip leader. But Sarin suffered a horrible series of hands and beats over a 90-minute period that melted his stack of chips. Down to his last 200,000 after starting the day off with 591,000, Sarin moved all-in with pocket kings after the flop came J-8-6. His opponent called holding an eight, and then caught a second pair to eliminate Sarin in eighth place. He received $72,550.
Jordan Morgan, a 22-year-old college student from Norman, Okalahoma finished in seventh place when his pocket tens were run down a high pair. Morgan moved all-in with his last 125,000 and was called by a player with a flush draw. Instead of catching the flush however, Morgan’s opponent caught a queen to make a higher pair, resulting in Morgan’s abolition. The Oklahoman collected $87,060 at his first WSOP final table.
Michael Binger had chips for a while, but then went card dead. He tried to take a pot with king-jack by making a 135,000 pre-flop raise. He was called down by an opponent with 10-7 who ended up flopping a seven, good for a pair. That was all it took to knock out the Stanford graduate (PhD). Binger, a physician from California, received sixth-place prize money totaling $101,570.
James Sileo went out next. Hold’em’s most classic confrontation eliminated Sileo, who held ace-king against pocket queens. Board came with all low cards, a disappointment to Sileo, who ended up taking fifth place and $116,080.
Chris Birchby, a.k.a. “Marvin Garden” hit the rail in fourth place when he was desperately low on chips and was forced to play a sub-par hand or risk being blinded off. He moved all-in with his last 100,000 in chips on a steal attempt, but was down called by Mats Rahmn. Birchby had queen-five versus Rahmn’s king-seven. A king flopped, and Birchby – the owner of a sunblock lotion company (“Coola Sunblock”) got burned. Fourth place paid $145,100.
Anyone who still doubts that Europeans can play great poker would be advised to look at the three finalists in this event. After the six Americans had all gone bust, that left an Irishman, a Hungarian, and a Swede to compete for what would be a first WSOP gold bracelet. Padriag Parkinson, who finished third in the WSOP main event back in 1999 (the year fellow Irishman Noel Furlong won it), had to settle for third place again this time around. Parkinson took a horrible beat when his ace-four was cracked by Richard Toth’s ace-three. Both players flopped an ace, but a three fell on the river to make two-pair for Toth. Parkinson, who was cashing for the fourth time at this year’s World Series, collected $203,139 for third place.
When heads-up play began, Richard Toth enjoyed a 2 to 1 chip lead over Mats Rahmn. The two players battled back and forth for nearly an hour before Rahmn won the decisive final hand of the tournament. The final hand came when Rahmn was dealt pocket kings versus Toth’s jack-eight. Toth called a pre-flop raise. After the flop came J-10-9, Rahmn bet out 150,000 and Toth moved all in for 500,000 more. Rahmn called and showed his overpair. Toth had top pair with an outside straight draw. However, two blanks hit the turn and the river, securing the victory for Rahmn.
As the runner up, Richard Toth received $333,729. The Hungarian poker player, who works in high-tech sales, was making his first-ever appearance at the WSOP. Toth will be a force in Europe and in years to come when he plays in North America.
Mats Rahmn had few words to express the jubilation of winning his first-ever WSOP gold bracelet and $655,141. “It feels amazing,” he said.