When it comes to Progressive Knockout tournaments (aka PKOs or Bounty Builders), there aren’t many players as accomplished as Norway’s Preben “prebz” Stokkan.
His love affair with PKOs started back in 2017 during the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) when he won his first title in a Thursday Thrill special edition for $160K plus $93K in bounties. He’s been hunting bounties ever since.
“I really enjoy the KOs!” Stokkan says as he gears up for a WCOOP Sunday session. “I probably like them more than freezeouts. They are less solved so I think the edge in them can be bigger. PKOs require more intuitive thinking regarding bet sizing and preflop strategy.”
It’s safe to say that in 2020 Stokkan has a pretty big edge.
In May, he picked up his first Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) title with a dominating performance in a $5,200 PKO High Roller, earning $101K from the main prize pool but a staggering $175K in bounties too, for a total haul of $276K. Stokkan, who lives in the UK, eliminated all but one of his final table opponents; a gallery of superstars which including his fellow beasts Conor “1_conor_b_1” Beresford and Joao “Naza114” Vieira.
He’s now back in the winner’s circle, capturing his second WCOOP title in–you guessed it–another PKO event. Stokkan beat an ultra-tough field in the 21-H $5,200 6-Max PKO for a total haul of $140K, which included $86K in bounties.
Stokkan is one of the biggest talents in today’s game, with millions won online on top of $2.2M in live earnings. Here, we chat about his amazing 2020, his second WCOOP PKO title, and his illustrious career so far.
PokerStars Blog: Hey Preben. You’ve had so many great results leading up to WCOOP [Stokkan also came close to winning his first bracelet by finishing third in an online World Series of Poker event]. I’m guessing you’ve enjoyed the online grind while live poker isn’t a thing?
Preben “prebz” Stokkan: Yeah, I’ve had some big scores. The online action has been really good this year. There have never been so many high stakes tournaments running.
I live with a few other Norwegian poker players in London and I guess the COVID-19 isolation has made it more convenient for us to grind and study a lot. I have been putting in so many hours this year.
It shows! Congratulations on your second WCOOP title. How did the event go for you overall?
I didn’t really have a massive stack until there were like 10-12 players left. That’s when I started chipping up. I came into the final table as chip leader and kept the chip lead most of the time until I won it.
With cards-up coverage of final tables being streamed to thousands on the PokerStars Twitch channel, is there added pressure knowing that your peers will be watching every hand you play?
I am usually more focused when I’m playing these big final tables. It is fun to know how many are watching.
How do you feel about at your career at the moment?
I’m happy with how far I have come. As long as I’m one of the top tournament players, I’m good with that. It requires a lot of time and energy just to remain where I’m at.
You battle against the best in the world every day, but are there any particular players who you hate to see on your table?
The regulars who are winning at the high stakes tournaments are so good now. I wouldn’t say there is one particular player who is far better than everyone else at the top level. That being said, I do respect Michael Addamo’s game a lot [Addamo goes by “Imluckbox” on PokerStars]. He might be a little bit ahead of the rest.
How did you first discover poker and what was your journey to becoming a professional like?
I started playing when I was 16-17 years old with friends in Norway. I had my own regular poker game in my Mum’s basement throughout high school. It was great fun.
The first half of my twenties I was 50/50 on whether I should go to school to study finance or play poker online professionally. I finished Uni in 2014 and decided to go 100% for poker instead of a normal job.
I would have to credit the many countless hours I’ve spent studying and doing work in solvers for much of my success over the past five years. I would say I probably spend more hours than most running sims in Piosolver.
What advice would you give to low and mid-stakes players who dream of battling in the tournaments you now play on a daily basis?
My advice would be to put in a ton of work studying and solving spots. If you enjoy watching videos then look to buy a course online like RaiseYourEdge or PokerCode.
I think to be one of the best players in the world these days you have to spend hundreds, maybe thousands of hours running sims in Piosolver / Monkersolver.
After many years in the game do you still wake up excited to play poker, or is it more of a work routine at this point?
I definitely get excited if I am deep in a big tournament and playing for a lot of money, but on an average day, it feels a lot like a work routine.
I still love playing and studying the game though. Running sims while watching a podcast on YouTube is just as enjoyable for me as playing.