Any tournament win is satisfying, although for all poker players — amateurs and pros alike — some stand out more than others.

Talking this week with Norway’s Espen “_sennj_” Sandvik about his victory in WCOOP Event #35-M, the $109 Stud Hi/Lo event, it sounds like there are several reasons why this one will remain memorable for him for a long time.

“It’s my first win in an official tournament,” he says. “I’ve been having most of my success in local tournaments and live cash games,” he adds, but never has he enjoyed a breakthrough like this one. Sandvik earned a $8,694 first prize for topping the 460-entry field.

Sandvik’s poker memories extend back into his childhood, starting soon after he first learned the game at age 10. One incident in particular stands out for him involving his education in another poker variant.

“I remember Norwegian poker legend Roar Aspås — a.k.a. “theknower” — waiting for me outside the school on Monday morning after one of our first sessions of five-card draw, eager to collect the weekend’s winnings of $16.”

Sandvik’s road to victory in Event #35-M was a fairly smooth one, he says, including only a few bumpy moments along the way.

“I was chip leader almost all of the way from 100 left” to the finish, he notes, which meant he was frequently “taking advantage of some players being too hero or too aggro.”

“I think I had rolled-up trips five times in the tournament, so I definitely ran very hot — as you need to do to bink.”

He says he had “a little dip at the start of the final-table, but managed to keep calm until the good cards typically came flying in” as they seemed to do for him for most of the tournament.

After scoring a double-knockout to trim the field to four players, Sendvik had more than half the chips in play, at which point it was mostly just a waiting game (he says) until the others all fell.

#35-M champ Espen “_sennj_” Sandvik

“Heads-up was the toughest. ‘FENOMENICO’ [the Russian who took runner-up] played good on the final table. He had a lot of ‘alligator blood’ in him.”

That latter quality was demonstrated somewhat by FENOMENICO proposing an even chop when Sandvik had a 2-to-1 chip lead, but Sandvik was having none of that. “He started to run bad,” after that, says Sandvik, “and I finally got rid of him.”

While Sandvik was at his final table Saturday night, he drew a little extra inspiration from the parallel deep run in the “High” version of the Stud Hi-Lo by another Norwegian well known to us here at PokerStars Blog, Tobias “Senkel92″ Leknes”.

Leknes won a couple of WCOOPs last year (bringing his overall total to three), and talked to us then about his hot start to the series. That made Leknes one of our WCOOP players to watch this time around, although Sandvik already had a reason to watch him.

“A big motivation for me during the tournament was trying to finish higher than my friend and ‘poker professor’ Senkel92,” Sandvik tells us.

“He ended fourth… so Mission Complete!”

A memorable night all around for Sandvik. Congrats to him, and good luck as well as he can now continue to compete with Leknes for the most WCOOP titles!

CHECK OUT MORE OF OUR WCOOP WINNER INTERVIEWS HERE:

Rodrigo “guinHuuh” Freire: Roller coaster ride turns $11 into $13K
Patrick “prepstyle71” Serda: No more pizzas for the three-time winner
Jeffrey “Jefffrr8” Reardon: He wanted a five-figure score. He got one.
Maxime “Daghemuneguu” Chilaud: Malta-based Frenchman wins first WCOOP of the series
Norway’s “19_Kumite_79”: First two-day event, biggest field, biggest cash
Viktor “TsiTool” Kovács: Puts Hungary on the WCOOP map
Italo “sep_itl1914” Carandinas: Brazilian chooses his own adventure
Naoya “nkeyno” Kihara: Woken up by a kick from his 3-year-old, plays Razz and wins!
“snovalshik1”: first-timer, who turned $5.50 into $3,408
Rinat “Zapahzamazki” Lyapin: Won PLO while streaming live
Alex “dynoalot” Difelice: Second win, but “I feel I have a ways to go.”
Pedro “PaDiLhA SP” Padilha: Akkari’s acolyte, who sets the record straight
Shaun “shaundeeb” Deeb: Seventh title, surely not the last

Photos courtesy Espen Sandvik.


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