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Generation Next -- Søren Blanner

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Nov 30, 2008

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Soren BlannerSøren Blanner, 24, has been quietly building a reputation over the past four years in the online poker world. This soft-spoken Danish gentleman should not be taken lightly, however, as he has been the reason behind many an empty pocket due to some devastatingly good online play. He spoke to Card Player at the recent European Poker Tour London tournament about his performance in the main event, his struggle to crack the live circuit, and making a living online.

Rebecca McAdam: How did you qualify for the EPT London?

Soren Blanner: I played some satellites online. I just tried to win seats because I enjoy playing live. I qualified on a small site called Scandic Bookmakers. It's a Danish site, and I know the poker manager there, so I get some good rakeback, and that's why I play on that site. I actually got really lucky getting into it, because at one point I had one big blind left in the satellite. There were five players left and only three were qualifiying, and then I doubled up, and tripled up, and doubled up again, and in like 10 hands, I was the chip leader.

RM: Have you ever played in an EPT event before?

SB: I played in Barcelona last year. I played some side events, as well, and some live satellites in Copenhagen and Prague.

RM:
What about World Series events?

SB:
I played the World Series last year, the main event. I raked my way to it with the site I play most on, so they paid me for the main event, and 14 days in Vegas. This year, I qualified for the World Poker Tour Boot Camp, and that package was a buy-in for a $1,500 World Series event this year. So, in the last two years, I have been in Vegas playing the World Series. I want to go back every year, as I love Vegas.

RM:
Do you aim to play in these events but not buy in to them?

SB:
Well, I could pay for them myself, but I think it's a lot of money to lose. Even though I play poker for a living online, I think there's more to life than just poker. I don't play roulette, I don't throw dice, I don't play machines, I only play poker. I don't gamble with money. I'm very secure with my money, and that's why I don't pay these buy-ins. I could do it, but I think I respect money more than many of these players do.

RM:
Why did you start playing online?

SB:
Well, actually, I was studying to become a school teacher, because both of my parents are teachers, and in my home, it has always been like - "get a good education." So, instead of getting into sports betting, like football matches and stuff, I was putting 200 Danish kroner, that's like €27, into a poker account, and they've never been used since. They just grew. That was four years ago. I wanted to win something so that I could use the money for a summer holiday, but it became serious, and at one point I was making more money than both of my parents together - like two or three times as much. I couldn't see the point of just going to school still, so it was like, OK, I'll take a year off, and if it's for me, I'll continue, and if I lose or I don't like it, I will just go back to some sort of education ... I have been playing professionally for three years.

RM:
What is your online nickname?

SB:
Hmm, I have a few, actually. Prima Poker: "Ronaldinho84," which is the one I use the most - and probably also the most dangerous. PokerStars: "U_TILT_ME" - I only play tournaments on Stars because the winnings are not tax-free in Denmark, plus I don't get any rakeback here. The same with Full Tilt Poker - only tournaments, and the nickname there is "Roekiks." On the Ongame network, my alias is "Annette15Fan," and the same goes for Ipoker.

RM:
What would you say your style is?

SB:
Tight-aggressive. I play strong hands and I play them aggressively. Sometimes I mix it up with loose play, but mostly it's tight.

RM:
What do you think you are doing wrong, because you're not cashing live?

SB:
I think the field this time is probably the strongest field I've ever seen. Like all the other tournaments I've played, like the Irish Poker Open and the World Series, and other EPTs ... this field has just been a higher standard, a higher skill level. I didn't have the aces when the other guy had kings, and I had kings when the other guy had the aces. You need the luck, as well, especially when I don't feel as good as they are, you know what I mean? I'm not at their level yet, but I want to be there someday.

RM: What do you do to improve your game?

SB:
I read articles and then discuss hands with my poker friends who I think play well, and analyse the hands. Well, like I said earlier, there is more to life than playing poker. I want to improve, of course, but it's not the most important thing.

RM:
Among the pros, whom do you respect?

SB:
I like Phil Ivey, both live and online. He is the biggest player to me. In my world, there are good players and bad players, and there are different levels of good and bad players. Basically, many of the players here play good poker, and many of them keep on cashing in events, so they've got to have an edge or something like that, but I just can't figure it out. So, I might be the fish ...

RM:
But you didn't seem like the fish on day 1A.

SB:
No, I was on a roll, and getting good hands, and I played well. You know, when you get confidence, you feel like you're controlling the table and have an edge over the other players - like when you keep on showing the winning hands, and when you can't, you suck out.

RM:
What happened on day 2?

SB:
It was completely different. I can give an example of one hand: Sorel Mizzi raised from under the gun and the blinds were 500-1,000. He raised to 3,000, and I was sitting right next to him and looked down at A-K and reraised to 9,000, putting in one-fourth or one-fifth of my whole stack. It goes around to the button, and a Swedish player reraised again to like 15,000 or 20,000 more, so he's going to call me if I'm going to shove. At best, it's a coin flip. And it was like that all the time. Whenever I tried to come over the top of people, they came over the top of me. Any move I made just failed to succeed. That's how it is sometimes, that's poker.

RM:
You were sitting at a pretty tough table, with Sorel Mizzi and Vicky Coren. Do you feel intimidated when you're put on a table like that?

SB:
Well, if you feel intimidated, they're going to run you over. So, I try not to feel intimidated, but of course it's an
honour playing with such great players as they are.

RM:
What's your next goal?

SB:
I think I'm going to go to play the Master Classics in Amsterdam. I want to qualify for that. And I want to play the EPT Copenhagen in February, as well, because that's home ground for me.

RM:
Are you up much so far this year?

SB:
In the beginning of this year and last year, I was kinda like, OK, you've got to make like $15,000 a month and you can take time off and party and be with friends and stuff. That was my goal, but the last half of the year, I wanted to travel and do a lot of other different things. Then, I final-tabled two big tournaments, the Sunday one on PokerStars, and I won the $75,000-guaranteed tournament on Prima Poker ... and I came third in Full Tilt's $750,000-guaranteed tournament, but normally I don't play tournaments. I'm not a tournament player; I'm more into cash games. But when it comes to winning ... $200,000 so far this year, maybe.

RM:
Why do you prefer online cash games?

SB:
It's what I'm best at, basically. It used to be easy money, but I think online poker has improved so much in the last year. It's harder to make a living today, because people are just grinding it out. Everyone has improved; even the fish have become better.