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Poker Tell Tales: Soren Blanner

Dane Talks Plans for 2011, Aussie Millions Success, And Hopes For The Future

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Soren BlannerCard Player catches up with young Danish player Soren Blanner to see what he has been up to (we last spoke to him in 2008) and what it was like to take down an Aussie Millions side event when faced with some dangerous competition.

Rebecca McAdam: What have you been doing poker-wise over the past couple of years?

Soren Blanner: The last couple of years I’ve been less active on the poker front than usual, because of my newborn son (he just turned two-years-old). It kind of plays itself, if you want to succeed in family life, you have to spend a lot of time on it. And of course that has affected my poker. I haven’t been out playing live as much as I wanted to, and I haven’t grinded online as much either. My goals with poker money-wise have been smaller than before, which didn’t really matter because my bankroll was/is big enough for me to take time off, if that’s what I want.

As my boy grows older I aim higher poker-wise. From the beginning of this year I kicked myself in the ass to set a lot of goals for 2011. Though they were pretty big goals (for me), I already accomplished a lot of them, but of course I’m still not at all done yet. I hope that I’m going to participate in more and more live tours during the next couple of years. Hopefully my 2011 will keep on being as good as it has been so far.

RM: How have you been doing?

SB: There have been ups and downs. Lucky for me mostly ups. My online cash game, which is my overall main game by far has been treating me good as usual, which means I still beat the game decently. Sunday tours or Sunday hell, whatever you like to call it, have been a long desert walk for me with a few oases once in a while. Overall I’ve been winning, but not as much as I wanted to and compared to the time spent on it [laughs]. First, recently I have had some success live with a side event win in the Unibet Open London, side event win in Australia, and a cash in the Unibet Open Malta, where I got pretty unlucky not to do better.

This, within only a couple of months, and more importantly, only a few sample of tours in total. I feel like my reads live are far more sharp, and it feels like I somehow broke the live code, if that make any sense. So hopefully you’ll see some more of me in the future. I have an interesting schedule of live tours for the year and I still feel hungry.

RM: What have you been doing other than that?

SB: I’ve been travelling, hanging out with friends and family, and enjoying my life. In my spare time I play handball and soccer on regular basis. I do love sport. I also got diabetes, which only means I have to eat more healthy. I don’t feel like it changed my life in any ways other than me eating a couple of extra pills a day. I love to focus on good things, so I’m just happy it’s not something as bad as for instance, cancer. In addition, it makes me lose weight so I don’t complain!

RM: So what events are you thinking of playing then?

SB: I plan to take part in all of the Unibet Open events this year. I played the Irish Open and the WSOP main event is also on the schedule. Then I have a lot of tours I “might” play: Master Classic Amsterdam and a few others. It depends on a lot of private family things. Online cash games gives butter on the bread. Then hopefully I hit a goldmine in a big Sunday tourney or become the world champion of poker. Big lol! Oh well, I guess that’s what we all dream about.

RM: Do you largely qualify online for the events?

SB: I will say mostly, but if I don’t, and I do want to go, I just go and pay it myself, if the roll says yes. It also depends on how big the events are we’re talking about. The bigger the event, the more I want to qualify cheaper.

RM: What games/stakes do you play regularly now?

SB: I play regularly mid-stakes, short-handed cash games. All between 1-2 and 10-20 depending on the value, game, and mood. I also play a lot of the biggest Sunday tournaments regularly.

RM: What is it about poker that keeps you involved in the game?

SB: Thats a deep question! Hmm, I guess I’m very competitive. I love winning and hate losing in any game I play. Lucky for me I have become a better loser over the years. That makes me mentally stronger in poker. I tilt less, which of course also means I lose less, when I lose. Poker gives me the opportunity of competing with the best in the world. When I was a kid I dreamed about being a pro soccer player. That dream has vanished. Now I want to win the World Series main event instead!

RM: Do you see yourself doing something else in the future?

SB: I do. What? Unfortunately, I have no idea yet. Maybe study and become smarter. Maybe I want to be independent and invest my poker money in a project I find interesting. I still haven’t figured yet, but I think about it from time to time.

RM: What is your best poker moment so far?

SB: Live poker is always more fun than online. Though the winning wasn’t even half as big as a couple of my online winnings, my best poker moment has to be winning an event in the Aussie Millions in January. Sitting as the last man with all the chips in a big tournament like that is awesome. Then you just love poker!

RM: What is the best location you’ve been to for a tournament?

SB: Somewhere more exotic and warmer than Denmark. No actually, it just has to be a city I find interesting (culture-wise, friendly people, etc.). I love visiting different places world-wide. London, Dublin, Vienna, Barcelona, Malta, Las Vegas, Melbourne… You name it.

RM: As you mentioned, you had great success recently in Australia in a $1,100 no-limit hold’em shootout – would this be the type of event you would normally be interested in? If so, what is it about it you like?

SB: Basically, playing a shootout is just like playing sit ‘n’ go’s. The difference between that and a normal tournament is that you have to beat the whole table to go through. The good thing is that they won’t split the table at any point. I like to think that it gives me, or the good player in general, an advantage. The more I play with people, the more I get to see how they play, so I can adjust my game to that. Anyway, no that wouldn’t be the type of event I normally would be interested in. It’s just no limit hold’em – my main game. I wouldn’t mind playing any hold’em games.

RM: The final table was tough, what was the rest of the field like?

SB: The final table was tough. And it wasn’t any different from the rest of the field. Annette Obrestad, Scott Montgomery, Jeff Sawyer, Anton Wigg, Neil Channing, Toby Lewis, etc.. I remember when I first sat down at my first table. The two seats on my left were open until the last minute before we began. Then Sawyer took one of the seats and Obrestad the other one, I remember thinking, “Well, that’s it. I can always play some cash games.”

Then I heard Obrestad telling her boyfriend (Montgomery), that she planned to win the event. Inside Søren’s head, "You gotta beat me first then.” Lucky for me she was wrong [smiles]. But indeed the table was tough. Almost every hand we had three-bets and four-bets, which makes the game a lot more difficult with level thinking etc.. Short version: It was my turn to get lucky, like you need it in tournament poker.

RM: Who was your toughest opponent at the final table?

SB: I don’t really recall any soft spots at the final table. They were all decent players. Going into the final table I remember having an extra respect for Andrew Teng just because of his many results, plus he is hard to get a read on. James Keys, who later finished second in the Aussie Millions main event, was a real pain in the a** on my immediate left, raising a lot. Also my heads-up opponent, Jack Powell, played really well making zero big mistakes.

RM: You were the chip leader, did you have a strategy?

SB: I did yes. I don’t wanna talk strategy too much [smiles]. In general, I play better shorthanded than full ring. The less people at the table, the bigger my edge should be. At least that’s what I think. So as people got knocked out, it was more and more the game I’m used to playing on regular basis. In the end I just flipped better.

RM: What did it feel like to take down such a big event?

SB: That’s what I play poker for. It was fantastic. All you have been working for, for all the hours and years you have been spending on poker just make total sense after you win a poker tournament. You get hooked and want to win more!

RM: Has the win done anything for your game?

SB: Maybe it has given me some more confidence in my live game. I now know that what I do works.

RM: What are your current goals now then?

SB: To become the world greatest father for my son and to win the WSOP main event!