Friday, May 22, 2015

Remko’s Run

Last summer I remember listening to an episode of the Dope Stories Podcast, the one featuring Shane “Shaniac” Schleger and Dr. Pauly. It was their “last” episode, actually, titled “This Is The End,” although they’d get together for another reunion ep. after that one.

On the show Pauly tells a funny story about working at the World Series of Poker several years back, with one of the story’s highlights (for me) having to do with our Dutch friend Remko Rinkema. I must’ve first met Remko at the 2008 WSOP when he was there reporting for PokerNews’ “NL” site, and we’ve had the chance to work together many times since then including most recently at the EPT Grand Final in Monaco.

I won’t rehearse all of Pauly’s story, but I will say it has to do with him having noticed something special about Remko. As the good doctor explains, his powers of perception had been heightened pharmaceutically, thereby enabling him to see more clearly than the rest of us Remko’s unrelentingly bright and positive aura. I’m remembering Remko back then often dressed in the orange jersey of his native country’s football squad, which I suppose only heightened the sunshiny effect Pauly was witnessing.

You can take Pauly’s story however you like, but anyone who knows Remko would readily agree that it is almost impossible not to pick up on the positive vibrations he consistently gives off. There are many others with whom I’ve had the good fortune to work at poker tournaments over the years who have also made my life brighter and funnier, and I’ll bet a lot of them -- like me -- would include Remko in that category of colleagues, too.

Thus was it especially fun to see Remko not only go deep in yesterday’s PokerStars’ Spring Championship of Online Poker Event #35-M, the $215 8-game mix, but actually come close to winning the sucker. He finished second out of 548, and in fact took away the largest share of the prize pool ($18,195.21) thanks to making a deal heads-up when he had the chip lead.

Even wilder, he outlasted both fourth-place finisher Dzmitry "Colisea" Urbanovich (who finished fourth) and Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier (who finished third), even knocking both of them out. Urbanovich is just coming off a series of European Poker Tour victories and earning EPT Player of the Year for Season 11, while Mercier has won three SCOOP titles over the last week-and-a-half. Seriously, what a barnburner!

When he and the eventual winner, a player named “Toby Work” from Denmark, were heads-up and getting the deal done, Remko’s opponent asked “u r journalist?” Remko didn’t hesitate before answering.

“I’m a top poker pro, I just write about poker so that the others have a chance to win,” he typed.

Remko’s many friends who were railing -- including both players and other poker media -- all laughed wherever they were around the world, each imagining hearing Remko delivering that line. (“Imagine how much funnier I am in Dutch,” Remko once told me. I believe it.)

I was glad a lot of us Remko fans got a chance last night to enjoy seeing him shine.

(EDIT [added 5/23/15]: To hear Remko tell the story of his run, check out the newest PokerNews podcast.)

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