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[caption width="618"] Martin Jacobson's 2014 WSOP Main Event win was a watershed moment for poker in Sweden[/caption] In 2014, Martin Jacobson's life was changed forever after he won the World Series of Poker Main Event. The Swedish poker player received the second largest cash prize ever given out in the WSOP's marquee tournament, $10 million, and was the first player from his home country to win it all. Not even two years later, Swedes rule the roost on PocketFives. Players from Sweden make up half of the top 10 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings and Sweden has entrenched itself at #1 in the Country Poker Rankings, a perch it won't be flung from anytime soon. Jacobson's win propelled him into the poker spotlight and gave the world a glimpse at the brilliance of the Swedish poker community. "I'm sure his win must have boosted the popularity of poker at least a little bit, even though it wasn't that well-covered in the mainstream media," Sweden's 'Ariados' said. "I think what it did was motivate players like me who were taking the game seriously already to get better when we realized how professional Martin's approach was. A lot of us were quite stoked when he won and a little bit jealous. It was like rooting for your country in a big sporting event." Eleven years before Jacobson, Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event, defeating Sammy Farha. Moneymaker, holding 5-4 for a flopped two pair against Farha's top pair of jacks, famously paced around the room during the final hand, his hands clasped behind his head and his beige hat turned backwards. Moneymaker, an "every man" by every standard, hit another five on the river and officially changed poker forever. "This is beyond fairy tale, it's inconceivable," said announcer Norman Chad at the time. Moneymaker, then a 27-year-old accountant from the Bible Belt, won his seat in a satellite on PokerStars. As a result, attendance at the WSOP soared, growing from 839 in the Main Event in 2003 to 10 times that just three years later. There was no fairy tale when Jacobson won. There weren't any glass slippers. Swedes didn't sign up for online poker rooms in droves. The pro's win was the exact opposite of "inconceivable." For Jacobson, it was business as usual. "I don't think any WSOP champion has had the effect Moneymaker had on the global poker market," Jacobson said. Prior to Jacobson's Main Event win, he had a baker's dozen of six-figure live scores, according to the Hendon Mob. He wasn't a spring chicken like his Tennessee counterpart. Now, with more than $15 million in live winnings, Jacobson tops Sweden's all-time money list and is #13 worldwide, ahead of greats like Carlos Mortensen and Vanessa Selbst. "Unfortunately, the interest for poker seems to be really low in Sweden at the moment," Jacobson said. "I feel like it would be tough for one single person like me to change that. It would almost have to be backed by big corporations like PokerStars that have the resources to create advertisements, campaigns, and promotions." While Jacobson's monumental win didn't ignite the masses' desire to play poker, it had a profound effect on poker pros from Sweden. 'Ariados' already alluded to what happened, and he's about to pass $5.5 million in career online tournament winnings because of it. 'Ariados' also just finished third in a partypoker Powerfest event for well over $100,000 and continues to pile on earnings for himself and for his Swedish brethren. [caption width="640"] 'Ariados' is one of the top-ranked players in Sweden[/caption] 'Pot4teUS', ranked #19 in the world and #6 in Sweden, echoed what 'Ariados' said. "Martin is a true legend of the game," 'Pot4teUS' said. "Chris Moneymaker made the Average Joe realize that anyone can make it, while Martin really won it for the pros. He showed the world how much it means to be well-prepared and 100% focused on a goal, from the time he bagged his chips in July until his winning hand. A well-respected pro like Martin winning the title by basically playing a perfect final table isn't going to create any sort of boom in Sweden, but he showed the pros how to be a pro." "I'm not sure we saw any new boom in Sweden after Martin won," #9 ranked Christian 'eisenhower1' Jeppsson said. "Martin is a really nice guy and a good ambassador in general in the poker world, but a Swedish poker pro winning the WSOP Main Event isn't fairy tale enough to trigger Swedish people to try their luck at the tables. They might need an Average Joe, or 'Svensson' as we say in Sweden, or someone who would create a lot of headlines." 'lena900', who passed $4 million in career winnings this month, added, "I don't think Martin's win influenced poker in Sweden. All of the top players from Sweden had been playing too long by that point." Jeppsson, 'lena900', 'Pot4teUS', and 'Ariados' were all members of the PocketFives community long before Jacobson slipped on his gold bracelet in Las Vegas with Swedish flags draped around him. They had all piled on hundreds of thousands of dollars in cashes long before Jacobson wrote his name into poker history. Then there's Viktor 'Isildur1' Blom, one of the most well-known cash game players in the world and a product of the Swedish poker mill. According to HighStakesDB, Blom has $2 million in career profit on PokerStars, while he's down almost $5 million on Full Tilt after run-ins with guys like Brian Hastings and Brian Townsend. Nevertheless, Blom continues to be a mainstay of the high-stakes cash game world. He was unmasked in 2011. [caption width="450"] Sweden's Viktor 'Isildur1' Blom is one of the poker world's most well-known players[/caption] How did Swedes grow to be such a force in the online poker world, then? Outside of a little inspiration from Jacobson and some hoopla surrounding Blom, it was a combination of peer pressure and group think. "Poker has always been popular in Sweden," 'Ariados' said. "Ever since the poker boom, we've had successful players in both MTTs and cash games. We're a pretty big group of high-stakes MTT players now and most of us know each other. I think we keep motivating each other to perform our very best. When people close to you are successful, you want to achieve that yourself and you realize it's possible. It also helps a lot that you can discuss hands and strategy and keep improving with each other's help." According to 'Ariados', the brand names of the Swedish poker community hang out together outside of the game. So, when they're not grinding online, they're putting back Crocodile beer from Krönleins in the local pubs. "Many of these guys are good friends and hang out a lot outside of poker," 'Ariados' said. "But, I'm not really part of that core group, so for me it's mostly poker-related when we chat. I've met all of them at local clubs or on the live circuit and we keep in contact online and occasionally grind together." It also helps that Sweden isn't known for its incredibly balmy climate. It's never "beach day," so being confined indoors can mean a boon to the local poker population. "I can't say for sure why we've been more successful, but as I said I think we're very good at helping and motivating each other to improve and perform our very best," 'Ariados' said. "I think a lot of us really enjoy the game of poker, not just the success and money that could come with it." The results are striking. The 1,270 registered PocketFives members from Sweden have combined for $123 million in winnings over the years, an average of almost $100,000 each. In the past three months, Swedes have amassed $8.5 million in winnings. The Swedish poker community is the only one that has three players with more than 7,000 PLB Points each. The European nation paces the PocketFives Country Poker Rankings with a combined PLB score of its top 20 players of 110,987 points, 6,000 more than the next closest locale. [caption width="654"] Key stats for the Sweden poker community[/caption] "'C Darwin2' and 'lena900' are particularly hot right now," 'Ariados' said. "A month from now it could be someone else. We have some pretty talented up-and-comers as well like Dennis 'DBerglin' Berglin, who has also had a lot of success this month." While 'Ariados' said that the general public in Sweden, for the most part, does not understand what poker is and what it takes to be successful at it, his parents have come to accept and appreciate the game he loves. "That, however, has taken time," he said. "They'd always support me no matter what I chose to do. They just didn't like the ups and downs that came with poker. I'm in a steadier place right now financially and emotionally, which I think is a relief for them." "My non-poker friends think it's cool and are very happy for me," he added. "Most of them are interested in poker as well and understand the principles of the game."
[caption width="640"] Sweden's 'Pot4teUS' moved up 10 spots to #5 in the world in the PocketFives Rankings[/caption] The recently-completed PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) brought plenty of chances for players to pocket six-figures in a variety of games. And with that came plenty of chances to make moves in the PocketFives Rankings. When the smoke cleared, two players punched their tickets into the top 10. One week ago, Sweden's 'Pot4teUS' was ranked #15 in the world. Then, he zoomed to a third place finish in a SCOOP $2,100 No Limit Hold'em tournament for $157,000 along with 649 PLB Points. It was the largest score of his online poker career and, as a result, he moved up 10 spots to #5. This is the highest ranking ever for 'Pot4teUS' and he's now the #3 ranked player in Sweden. 'Pot4teUS' owns $2.8 million in career online tournament winnings and is part of a ferocious Swedish contingent that holds four of the top seven spots worldwide in the rankings. Right behind the Swede on the leaderboard is Russia's 'NoPlanB', who finished ninth in the SCOOP Main Event for $104,000 and 756 PLB Points, his largest cash ever. Also in recent days, 'NoPlanB' took eighth in a SCOOP $2,100 No Limit Hold'em Cubed and put back $15,000. 'NoPlanB' was up 22 spots on the week to a new all-time high. He's the top-ranked online poker player in Russia and just passed $3.6 million in career winnings. He's banked $2 million on PokerStars alone, where he plays under the user name 'EvnomiYa'. Sweden's 'C Darwin2' remains the top-ranked online poker player in the world, a title he has held since May 11. He won a partypoker Powerfest event four days ago for $4,100, the 58th tracked victory of his career, and sits at almost exactly $4.2 million in career online winnings. He leads the second place player on the leaderboard, Joao 'joaosimaobh' Simao, by 38 points. [caption width="639"] Russia's 'veeea' moved up nine spots to #12[/caption] Outside the top 10, Russia's 'veeea' moved up nine spots to #12. This former #1 ranked player won the PokerStars $320 Saturday KO over the weekend for $28,000 and 432 PLB Points. Amazingly, it was his 234th career online tournament win and helped push his lifetime cash total to almost $5.3 million. He was ranked #1 in the world for a three-week stretch that ended in mid-February. Estonia's Markku 'markovitsus' Koplimaa was up 39 spots this week to #29, his best showing ever. Koplimaa took fifth in the SCOOP High-Stakes Main Event for $416,000 and over 1,000 PLB Points. It was the largest score of his career by a factor of 10 and boosted his lifetime cash total to almost $3 million. Koplimaa leads the 162 Estonian PocketFives members with PLB scores. Diego 'Die Ventura' Ventura reentered the top 100 at #48, 20 spots off his all-time high. He won a $109 SCOOP No Limit Hold'em Progressive Super Knockout for $45,000 and 539 PLB Points last Thursday and then finished fourth in a $215 No Limit Hold'em Mix-Max tournament for another $20,000. "I am very happy with my results," Ventura said. "After a few years, I finally got my first SCOOP tittle. I am looking forward to joining the top 10 on PocketFives." Also reentering the top 100 and landing one spot behind Ventura is '3p3nipa'. He scored big in the France Poker Series on PokerStars, taking down its Main Event for $142,000 and 880 PLB Points. That score followed back-to-back days of SCOOP final tables for $66,000 combined. '3p3nipa' is at $2.8 million in career online tournament winnings, three-quarters of which has come on PokerStars. Finally this week, Finland's 'European' reentered the top 100 at #55. He was ranked as high as #3 in the world two years ago and rocketed up the leaderboard thanks to three five-figure SCOOP scores in a three-day span, including a third place finish in a $2,100 No Limit Hold'em Three-Max Turbo Progressive Knockout and a 19th place run in the Main Event. He's about to hit $3 million in winnings for his online tournament career. This week's top 10: C Darwin2 - 8,265 points joaosimaobh - 8,217 points lena900 - 7,961 points 1_conor_b_1 - 7,550 points Pot4teUS - 7,367 points NoPlanB - 7,354 points Ariados - 7,255 points RoccoGe - 7,070 points damourinio - 6,983 points Big Huni - 6,947 points
[caption width="640"] Jonatan 'Pot4teUS' Hellman has been able to crush online poker thanks to balanced meals he prepares (photo: Tomas Stacha)[/caption] A number of poker players will tell you that a healthy, balanced diet improves their performance at the tables by leaps and bounds. Eat greasy pizza, a fatty cheeseburger, or a big old hunk of chocolate cake and your ability to call, raise, fold, and read other players effectively will likely go downhill. Eat a grease-free, balanced meal before playing poker and you might find yourself winning the next big tournament you play. Sweden's Jonatan 'Pot4teUS' Hellman takes the mantra "you are what you eat" to heart. On the felt, he has $3 million in lifetime online tournament winnings and has shot up all the way to #4 in the PocketFives Rankings. He's about to break $2 million in winnings on PokerStars under the handle 'TanTanSWE' and makes it a point to master the art of cooking so he can perform at a high level in the poker world. "I cook everything," the Swede said. "In the summer, it's a lot of barbecue stuff, but I like to try out new things all the time." Hellman's parents divorced when he was 12 years old. His mother was primarily the family's chef, so when he stayed with his father, Hellman began to assume the role. "It wasn't really given who was supposed to do the cooking since dad was used to mom always being in the kitchen," Hellman said. "So, I started helping out with simple stuff and got better and better at it. I think the breaking point for being a good cook is when you don't need recipes anymore and you get that fundamental feeling of what flavors work with what. That is when it becomes fun to cook. You take a look in the fridge and randomly improvise to make a nice meal. The feeling when your food gets appreciated by others is truly amazing." His ability to cook an array of foods has led to an uptick in results online. Take Sundays, when Hellman usually begins grinding at 4:00 PM, just before the dinner bell rings. "I need a hearty, filling meal with a lot of slow carbs that's going to give me energy for a lot of hours," he said of what food he usually cooks on poker's biggest tournament day. "It's hard to find the time during the grind to eat something serious, so I think it's important to have a good meal before. Swedish meatballs with potatoes, cream sauce, and lingonberry jam is probably my go-to Sunday grind meal." It's no wonder that by eating a variety of healthy foods, he's been able to dominate the online poker world. Hellman made the top three of the PokerStars Super Tuesday twice last year for $100,000 total. He also took third in a SCOOP $2,100 No Limit Hold'em event earlier this year for $157,000, his largest career score. His gold medals have come in tournaments like the Saturday Super-Knockout, partypoker $200,000 Guarantee, and PokerStars Big $162. [caption width="640"] Sliders three ways, one of Hellman's staple dishes[/caption] "I usually play badly when I'm hungry or am low on energy," he said. "Food also makes me happy. On Sundays, it's nice to have time for a nice meal with the soon-to-be wife since I'm going to be at the computer for 12 hours and only get to talk to her during breaks." Some of his favorite dishes to cook include pasta on grind days and the Christmas turkey, the latter of which takes countless hours to prepare but is well worth the wait. But, despite his aptitude for being able to produce high-quality food, he has no intentions of becoming a full-time chef any time soon. And who can blame him? "I thought about working professionally as a chef, but realized it's too stressful and the hours are not good," he said. Besides, cooking for fun still allows him to produce dishes like his signature fillet of lamb with red wine reduction, potato gratin topped with goat cheese, and a cherry tomato/basil salad. "I love lamb," he said, "and everyone who has tasted that dish goes crazy." Hellman is getting married on July 23 and his matrimony will likely make the residents of his home town of Lillhagen pretty giddy. Consequently, he's not in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker Main Event. Staying at home prepping for his wedding, which he's definitely not self-catering, has also allowed him to play in a mostly shark-free pool. In fact, he has four wins already in July, raising his career total to 83. With more mouth-watering food hitting his belly, the sky seems to be the limit for the Swedish grinder from here.
He may not be #1 in the world this week, but in the June PLB rankings, super Swede ‘C Darwin2’ found his familiar place in the top spot. And he had some unusual company in the top 10 - an American. ‘C Darwin2’ (3,732.08 June PLB points) put in plenty of volume and, as usual for him, it paid off. Early in the month, he cashed for what would be his largest score of the month by winning the Winamax Mini Las Vegas High Roller for $46,404.27 and 414.57 PLB points. That was just one of eight five-figure scores won during the course of June which, in total, earned ‘C Darwin2’ over $289,000. The former #1-ranked grinder is speeding to the elite plateau of $10 million in lifetime earnings, needing just $220,189 to get there. For most people and players this is the equivalent of many, many years of hard work. For the Swede, if he runs good and puts in his usual volume, he may hit this mark by the end of July. Denmark’s ‘x_zola25’ (2870.25) finished the month in the #2 spot in June. Currently ranked #45 in the world, ‘x_zola25’ topped his month with a runner-up finish in the June 19 edition of the PokerStars $1,050 Super Tuesday for $25,319 and 267.99 PLB points. The Dane, who regularly plays the biggest online buy-ins he can find, managed another five-figure finish when he placed second in the partypoker Sunday Major High Roller for another $20,778/255.52. In total Denmark’s #1-ranked player produced a massive 130 results in June for over $181,000. The June effort helped him climb over the $4 million lifetime earnings mark as he works his way back to the Worldwide Top 25. Speaking of a top 25 grinder, Ukraine’s Worldwide #23-ranked ‘Palyaaa’ (2842.02) landed in the #3 PLB ranking for June. He did it on the back of two large PLB scores. ‘Palyaaa’ first booked the win in the June 14 edition of the partypoker $1K Big Bounty Hunter High Roller for $38,066. Four days later, he repeated the finish in the partypoker Super Sunday 1K Deepstack High Roller for another $27,710. Between the two, the Ukrainian picked up over 761 PLB points. The massive month also helped him reach a career peak Worldwide ranking. The question for ‘Palyaaa’ is can he continue to rise the ranks into the Worldwide top 10? The second Swede in the top 5 of the June PLB leaders is ‘Pot4teUS’ (2,658.55). A former top 10-ranked grinder, currently #25 in the world, ‘Pot4teUS’ soared past the $6 million lifetime earnings mark in June. The bulk of this was thanks to two massive five-figure cashes. The first came on June 10, with his third-place finish in the partypoker KO Series Event #38 for $29,975 and 365.77 PLB points. Then he finished as the runner-up in the $1k Sunday Big Bounty for another $24,218/296.49. In total ‘Pot4teUS’ brought in just under $150,000 in winnings in June in roughly 110 results. Wrapping up the top 5 in June is Argentinian superstar Ramiro ‘Ramiro’ Petrone (2,571.20). Currently ranked #6 in the world, Petrone has been on a heater for the better of a year, continuing to crush both the tournament and online cash games. In June, Petone put in a lighter schedule than he has in recent months but still managed to book big-time scores. On June 3 Petrone kicked off the month with a runner-up finish in the PokerStars Sunday High Roller for $37,249. The same day he had another second place finish in the partypoker Super Sunday 1K Deepstack for another score of just over $30,000. In total, Petrone booked five scores of five-figures en route to a month that brought him over $163,000 in earnings. He heads into July needing only $30,000 to hit $4 million in lifetime earnings. Also of note: It's been roughly seven years since a player located in the United States has been able to crack the top 10 of any given monthly PLB rankings. The restrictions of the UIGEA have made it virtually impossible for US players to put in enough volume in large enough fields to accumulate the necessary PLB points. Players from all over the rest of the world are at a huge advantage being able to play in the largest tournament series and sites that have millions at stake on a weekly basis. This is what makes the accomplishment of David 'bewater' Goodman, from the United States, all the more amazing. WSOP.com's recent shared tri-state liquidity and Goodman's domination in the month of June has not only made him the #1-ranked player in Nevada but also the first US player, still living in the US, to crack the monthly PLB in years. In total, Goodman was able to earn over $121,000 on 31 cashes in the month of June . PocketFives June PLB Rankings Top 10 RANK PLAYER POINTS 1 C Darwin2 3,732.08 2 x_zola25 2,870.50 3 Palyaaa 2,842.02 4 Pot4teUS 2,658.55 5 Ramiro 2,571.20 6 proudflop 2,433.90 7 lena900 2,399.30 8 SixthSenSe19 2,379.30 9 papan9_p$ 2,377.28 10 bewater 2,298.14