Sweden tops in poker nation tourney


RIP Brian

$100 000 in prize money makes for happy Swedes in Party Poker's Poker Nation Cup

Sweden defied huge odds to pull off a spectacular triumph at the PartyPoker.com Poker Nations Cup in Cardiff this week. The winning team, captained by Bo Sehlstedt, included 2006 WSOP bracelet winners Anders Henriksson and Mats Rahm, as well as Johan Storakers, William Thorsson and online qualifier Hans Isoz.

The Swedes scooped $100 000 in the televised tournament that saw players pursuing personal and team glory, along with the honour of representing their home nation.

Sweden owes their success to the calm prowess of Henriksson. Heads-up with the USA's team captain Robert Williamson III, Sweden had 12 000 chips compared to 88 000 for the USA. The contest appeared to be over, the USA camp was triumphant and the Swedish supporters despondent until Henriksson doubled up once and wore down the USA captain in an intense psychological battle.

Henriksson was delighted. "It is great to win. I always thought we were in with a chance because we had a very strong team. It didn't seem to be going good for a while but once I had doubled-up from almost nothing my confidence started to rise." USA captain Williamson III was devastated to have thrown away such a huge chip lead and could only say, "I don't need a bar right now, I need a doctor."

The tournament was dramatic from start to finish. Defending champions Great Britain featuring Dave, "The Devilfish" Ulliott, Ram Vaswani and Joe Beevers steamrollered the field for the first few days and were runaway favourites to win going into the final. The short stack for the final was team USA who had been on the receiving end of a terrible week. Captained by Robert Williamson III, the line-up featured Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, Clonie Gowen, Kevin O'Donnell and Hollywood actress Jennifer Tilly. The stars and stripes had taken a mauling from the Europeans all week until Williamson III won the heat the night before the final to give them a small chance.

The USA cruised from short stack to big stack in the final mainly thanks to a marathon session from Antonio Esfandiari, who exhibited all the bluffing skills he is renowned for. After a big Clonie Gowen double-up it seemed that nobody would stop the USA. All this time the Swedish team were middle of the field, keeping out of trouble.

First out in the final was Germany, captained by Michael Keiner, and in less than an hour. Next to go was Denmark, captained by Theo Jorgensen, and then Holland, led by Marcel Luske. It was when it was three handed between Great Britain, Sweden and the USA that Sehlstedt brought on his super substitute Henriksson.

The tournament saw one lucky PartyPoker.com online qualifier on each team playing alongside five poker professionals from the same participating nations. Over six heats, each player competed once to score points for their team. All six teams then carried these points into a "tag" final where each team captain's judgement is vital, as it is up to them to make tactical substitutions and strategic "time outs."

The show was produced for Channel 4 in the UK by Presentable. Each show featured commentary by Vicky Coren and Barny Boatman of Hendon Mob fame. The series finished its run on Tuesday 15th May, but more UK poker action lies ahead with next week's start of the PartyPoker.com Premier League Poker, produced by Matchroom Sport for Channel 4.