With just 34-players remaining, Johnny Lodden continues to lead a very impressive cast in the production of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Grand Final in Monte Carlo.
You look at the face, you look at his style and then you look at his patch. Team PokerStars pro Johnny Lodden. It just rolls off your tongue. Everything about him screams superstar poker player, and yet when you look at his live tournament record you have to say it has been disappointing. To put things into perspective if Lodden manages to hold on to his chip lead for just a few more days he will have earned more money in a single tournament than he has earned in a decade.
That’s the position the Norwegian family man has put himself in after securing his place in the headlines of every poker writer by leading the EPT Grand Final for the second consecutive day. Day Three was the day that people got paid. Quite an important milestone when your pocket is €10,600 lighter than whence you first stepped into that helicopter. The money bubble lasted only eight hands and when it burst it was the Team PokerStars pro Chad Brown who gave everyone something to smile about after running his pocket queens into the pocket aces of Sebastian Mueller.
The hand that put Lodden into the perfect position to run off as the chip leader came against Panagiotis Gavrillidis. There were just under 50-players left in the tournament when Gavrillidis opened under the gun, Lodden thee-bet one seat to his left and Gavrillidis made the call. The dealer put [Jh] [5d] [4c] out there and Gavrillidis check raised to 57,000 after the Norwegian had bet 26,000. Lodden three-bet to 91,000, Gavrillidis four-bet to 167,000 and Lodden tank-called. Fourth street was the [6d], and Gavrillidis moved all-in for 400,000 and Lodden – who was sitting on 585,000 – made the call. It was pocket kings for Lodden and nothing but baby deuces for Gavrillidis.
“This one I need to win,” Lodden told the baying crowd.
The [Tc] rolled off on the river and Lodden became the first player to assail the million chip mark with 1.4m of those darling discs. Whether he will win is still open to debate. He has all of the momentum, the skill but he still doesn’t have the directions that will help him find his way to the top, but there are many lurking behind him that do.
John Juanda, Noah Schwartz, Jason Mercier, Daniel Negreanu, Freddy Deeb, Jake Cody, Mickey Petersen and Oleksii Kovalchuk have all bagged major live tournament titles. Two players who haven’t secured a major, but are bang on form are Steve O’Dwyer and Paul Volpe. Both players are also looking sharp with O’Dwyer looking particularly impressive sitting in second place.
With the €25k High Roller starting today, as well as the continuing saga of the Main Event, Monte Carlo is all smiles, and Johnny Lodden has more reason to smile than most.