The Patrik Antonius Poker Challenge (PAPC) first graced the poker world three years ago, when just under 100 players took part in the main event in the Estonian capital, Tallinn. It was an ambitious inaugural running, even for the pre-pandemic era, with 29 events on the highly varied tournament schedule.
The eponymous Finnish pro even managed to scoop the 2019 high roller in a rare tournament appearance for a player better-known for high-stakes cash action. This launch event had been a vehicle to promote First Land of Poker (FLOP), an app which connects players and live poker rooms in a single cash game community. Unfortunate timing for the launch of such a business, live poker soon went into hibernation.
Now, after a lengthy hiatus, the PAPC has managed to stage its second event, albeit with a false start. The event, which took place in Tallinn’s Olympic park Casino had initially been scheduled for February, but was forced to postpone due to an ongoing 11pm curfew in Estonia, which lifted just the day before the PAPC festival began.
The thirst for a return to live poker was evident, with most of the tournaments exceeding their 2019 participation. The €1,650 main event attracted 190 entries, almost double the number who contested it in 2019 (98 entries). The festival also featured a new addition, a €550 Kick-Off Cup, with three starting flights, which had 151 entrants. While the lower and medium stakes side events did reasonably well, there was however a distinct lack of high-roller players, with just 13 entrants for the €5k high roller while the €10k high roller had to be cancelled.
Jonathan Raab, head of business development at Antonius’s Monaco based company We-Opt, explains
The lack of high roller players at the event was a little disappointing, but not unexpected, with most of the big hitters choosing to attend the Triton Series event in Cyprus, However player engagement at the more modest end of the live poker spectrum was much higher than in 2019 and it was nice that many of the lower and medium staking players got a chance to play directly with Patrik in affordable cash games
We were testing the functionality of the FLOP app at the festival. Players could join the waiting lists for cash games directly from the app on their phones and it was in this way that we filled the TV cash game on Friday night. A bit like the start of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, with a fastest fingers first approach to players securing a seat in the games with Patrik.
Unusually, the streamed coverage of the PAPC TV table did not feature the main event at all. The organisers gambled on cash game coverage on two of the stream’s 3-days and opened with an invitational event: a series of heads-up matches between online qualifiers, who played for the right to face-off against the fearless Finn.
The final day of streaming saw the TV table’s biggest game take place, with a 25-50 (100) NLH cash game taking place, involving Antonius, Juha Helppi and slots streamer Kim Hultman. In the latter stages of this game it got decidedly messy, when main event finalist Jussi Mattila (The Fun) joined in. Within an orbit of the table he had reloaded twice and ended up in a 30k hole for the night. He chopped the main event the next day for €57k to get out of it, taking second place, with Finland’s Kristian Kostiander securing the trophy and the extra €3.2k they set aside to play for.
The action was called by poker players James Dempsey, David Lappin and Dara O’Kearney and was streamed on Twitch and Youtube)
The PAPC aims to appeal to high and low staking players alike and incorporates a mixed-game schedule side-by-side with the Holdem and PLO offerings. It is also a stage for Antonius to experiment with things that he believes are good for the game, such as his advanced shot-clock, which was used on two of the higher buy-in sides.
Unlike most standard shot-clocks, the PA version only allows players 10 seconds to make their decisions pre-flop. However there is a proviso that if the player is facing a three bet or more, thinking time is doubled to 20 secs. Post flop, players also have 20 seconds to make their moves and additionally have 15 x 30 second time banks to use for any decisions that might take longer. Whether this advanced (but perhaps a little complicated) shot clock becomes popular remains to be seen.
2022 PAPC by the Numbers
- Minus 1 – C temperature in Tallinn
- 0 – Masks required to be worn during the event
- 1 – First live poker festival in Estonia in 2022
- 3 – Days of live streaming
- 5 – € Price of a bowl of spaghetti in Olympic Park Casino, Tallinn
- 10 – seconds pre-flop on the PA Clock
- 17 – cash games running on Friday night
- 21 – legal age to enter casinos in Estonia
- 26 – tournaments on the schedule
- 70 – € lowest buy-in event
- 90 – minutes ferry ride from Helsinki to Tallinn
- 190 – entries in the main event, up from 98 in the last PAPC in 2019
- 1,650 – € Main Event Buy-In
- 5,200 – € High Roller Buy-In
- 60,200 – € 1st place prize money
[Anyone’s guess – the number of alcoholic drinks consumed (partly/mostly by Ilari Sahamies) during the festival]