Eike “Mr. Havener” Onodera was targeting the small stakes events when he won a free ticket from the Blowout Series Ticket Machine promotion. Hundreds, if not thousands of players got free tickets, but only a handful converted them into serious prizes.
In Onodera’s mind, he would now be able to take a stab at an event well outside his usual buy-in range. Then, dismayed, he realized that the $109 ticket he was holding was actually for a satellite.
“When I won the free $109 ticket, it was pretty exciting, but then I realized that it was only for satellites and got a bit upset.”
Sorry about that, Eike!
Not to worry. Onodera wasn’t done yet. “While grinding on Sunday, I decided to use the ticket, and managed to win the seat.”
And so it was that a low stakes MTT player from Brazil found himself sitting down to one of the biggest online poker tournaments of the year, the $1,050 Big Blowout, playing for a share of over $6.9 million.
“It was pretty funny, because I was playing the $1,050 Big Blowout and a $10 tourney on the side,” tells Onodera, speaking quite casually, as seems to be his way.
It wouldn’t be unfair to assume that Eike, by this point in his journey, would be far, far out of his comfort zone. Not the case. As the tourney progressed, he managed to keep his head together, even getting good rest in between days (apart from one “tense” night before the final table).
The key to Onodera’s calm seemed to lie in his approach to the game.
“After Day 2, I just spent the night playing some hands in a training app and studying bubble adjusted play,” says Onodera. “I had a session with one of my coaches (bungakat) before the final table discussing some strategies, so I don’t think I made any mistakes.”
“Of course, I ran really good, but I didn’t change my strategy because it was a high-stakes game. I was just trying to play solid poker, and at the same time not be afraid of folding too much or pulling the big river bluffs against the regs.”
Eike “Mr. Havener” Onodera took his Big Blowout freebie all the way to the final table, eventually finishing sixth place. His prize: a whopping $167,360.
That’s really quite something for a free ride. It’s a similar story to John Vallis, who won $57k for free in the Stadium Series. In this case it was $167k and a Blowout Series title. It’s fantastic stuff. And Onodera was more than happy with the outcome.
“Winning such a large amount of money is always what poker players aspire to, but of course for me it was quite unexpected as I was grinding low-stakes. I didn’t even think about making it into such a big spot”, said Onodera.
“I’m really happy with this outcome, especially because it’s money that can boost my poker career, so it is life changing money.”
Eike wants to give a shout out to BBZ and DTO poker training, both of which have helped him to improve his game in recent years. It’s a much deserved win. A free opportunity, yes, but executed with all the energy and commitment you would expect from a pro who had bought in with their own money. Congratulations Eike “Mr. Havener” Onodera!
The $1,050 Big Blowout had 6,992 entries and a total prize pool of over $6.9 million. “arbaarba” from Lithuania was the official winner, qualifying via a $109 satellite and locking up $739,976. A three-player deal occurred, so Fernando “fviana” Viana of Brazil, technically the second place finisher earned $771,416, the biggest prize both of the tourney and the series.
Here’s the full final table payouts: