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The Real World Series

Globe1 With its ubiquitous presence, the newfound celebrity status of pros, and infiltration into pop culture, the poker phenomenon in the U.S. is second to none.

But some of the most skilled practitioners of the game hail from across our waters.

On Day 4 at the WSOP, the field was a virtual United Nations of poker with more than 30 players representing nations in Europe, Asia, Central America and elsewhere. And of course, a large number of the American rounders here are originally from abroad, including John Juanda (born in Indonesia), Farzad “Freddy” Bonyadi (Iran), a few Eastern Europeans now living in New York and the always strong crew of pros born in Vietnam, including Hung La, Minh Ly and JC Tran.

One of the strongest and most surprising contingents is the Scandinavians...

At least eight Swedes started on Day 4 as well as two Danes, but not the one you’d expect, as Gus Hansen went out early Day Two. Jonas Huttel, a Copenhagen based reporter for the paper Ekstra Bladet, remarked to us that the strength of Scandinavian poker lies in the fact that they are good at not having tells because they are not emotional people. From time spent in Denmark and Sweden, we buy that theory, as they’re generally a pleasant but stoic bunch. But what we found most surprising was that, according to Huttel, the majority of players there (and representing here at the WSOP) have very little live tournament experience, playing mostly online because casinos are limited in both numbers and games with low enough limits. Huttel also explained that the high number of online players is due to the fact that Sweden and Denmark have two of the highest percentages of households with broadband connections.

So as Day 5 begins with Bonyadi near the top of the chip count, Vietnam born players like
Minh Ly and Hung La hanging around, along with Swedes Daniel Bergsdorf, Per Hildebrand, Ayhan Alsancak and Oskar Silow, it may just be a foreign born player waking up to the 7.5 million dollar American dream this year, which would be a first since Carlos Mortensen in 2001.

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