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Dutch News

by Peter Dalhuijsen |  Published: Jul 01, 2007

Summer Classics in Utrecht
Players were pleased to hear the announcement of yet another new tournament festival on Dutch soil. From Aug. 21 to Aug. 26, Holland Casino Utrecht will hold its second tournament series of the year, the Summer Classics 2007.

The schedule consists of four smaller events leading up to the main event, which will be a €1,000 freezeout tournament. The events will be capped at 200 players, but that will be more than enough to generate generous prize pools for the players to compete over.

And, of course, it's always good to see that tournaments can already be "classic" when they're being held for the first time. I like their style.

Small successes at Bellagio
A small group of Dutch fanatics went to Las Vegas last April for the Five-Star World Poker Classic at Bellagio, the final stop of the World Poker Tour. In the side events, the Dutch camp was on its way to a couple of big wins, but despite the promising chip counts going to the final table, no one was able to finish the job.

Noah Boeken got the fourth fifth-place finish of his career in a $2,500 no-limit hold'em event ($34,975), thereby exceeding his number of first-place finishes in open events. The very next day, Abel Meijberg got yet another third place in a $3,000 no-limit hold'em event ($96,320). His favorite number is clearly more profitable.

Steve Wong was well on his way to go deep in the WPT Championship, but ran his top pair into a pair of kings and finished in a fairly disappointing 67th place ($46,410). A little more than a week later, he was in position to make things right at the final table of the World Series of Poker Tournament Circuit event at Caesars Palace, but again, things went wrong. He started the day second in chips, but early on, he lost half his of stack when his king high couldn't deliver a bad beat to his opponent, who had flopped a set. The rest of his chips went up in smoke when he tried to push his opponent off his pair of tens, but the board just wasn't scary enough. On top of that, it didn't contain the much needed ace or king, so he had to settle for seventh place ($54,184). This still was not a bad payday by all standards, but of course the feeling dominated that things could and should have ended differently.

Dutch victory in the Sunday Million
Meanwhile, back in Holland, Steven van Zadelhoff had something else to do. The usual array of online tournaments dominates most of his Sunday nights on that quiet and beautiful street in Deil Centrum, but on April 22, his numerous online hours and many wasted nights finally paid off.

With his girlfriend by his side, he ploughed through a once again huge field to arrive at the final table as the chip leader. But this time, there were no mistakes. He managed to keep his lead all the way down to the final three, where he proved to have a true winning attitude.

When one of his opponents asked if the others wanted to discuss a deal, the other replied that he was willing to take a look at what the prize-money distribution would look like, just after he had raised from the button. Steven's commentary when we were watching the final-table replay was: "Oh, you want to take a look? Well, first take a look at this, then …" This was swiftly followed by a hefty reraise, which of course left his opponent with no other choice but to lay down his hand.

The man is already a legend.

So, after just 10 hours of play, SvZff managed to outlast a total field of 6,731 players to finish in first place and claim his spot among the online tournament heroes, along with $163,974.12, to be exact. He spent almost an entire week receiving congratulatory handshakes from friends he never knew he had, and trying to spend his tournament winnings before people would start asking if they could borrow some of it. The spending part didn't go too well at first, so to speed up the process, he decided to spend some of it on his girlfriend, who will no doubt be a grateful recipient.

World Series of Poker
Along with the tournaments in Enschede and Barcelona, this was all just foreplay to the Dutch. The tournament successes leading up to the World Series of Poker fueled the discussions that tried to answer the one question that has been asked for the past couple of years: Who will be the first Dutch player to win a World Series bracelet? The rising tension and prestige made sure that more than a dozen Dutch players will be playing more than 20 events at the Rio this year to try to be "The One."

With players like Marcel Lüske, Rob Hollink, Steve Wong, Marc Naalden, Abel Meijberg, Rolf Slotboom, and Noah Boeken, there is no doubt that the Dutch have a real shot at achieving this feat. Some people actually believe that I'm going to be the first, but honestly, I think I'm better at writing about it. After all, second places are my specialty, and they don't come with bracelets.

Add some online heroes like Jorryt "TheCleaner11" van Hoof and Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis, and I'm positive that someone with orange blood will take it down someday. With an estimated 10 percent chance that someone will actually become the Raymond van Barneveld of poker this year, it may take a couple of more years before a Dutch player will actually win that coveted piece of gold.

But, let's hope that by the time you're reading this, someone already has.

Peter Dalhuijsen is a professional poker player who writes for