Sweden's Michael Tureniec is a closer, a fact evidenced by seven high-profile tournament wins in the past nine years. They include winning the 2008 Masters Classic of Poker, a European Poker Tour Main Event, and most recently a highly-sought after World Series of Poker gold bracelet.
In mid-July, Tureniec closed out the 2016 WSOP by topping a whopping field of 4,360 entrants to win the last tournament on the schedule, Event #69: $1,111 Little One for One Drop for $525,520. That brought his lifetime earnings up to $3,765,066 and put him fourth on Sweden's all-time money list behind only Martin De Knijff, Chris Bjorin, and Martin Jacobson.
The Road to Winning the Little One for One Drop
Now back in Sweden, the former supermarket cashier spoke to us about the win, which marked the third-largest cash of his career behind the $961,902 he scored for finishing runner-up to Michael Martin in the 2008 EPT London Main Event and $679,244 he received for winning the 2011 EPT Copenhagen Main Event.
"It's overwhelming to win," says the 31-year-old Tureniec. "Winning a bracelet is the biggest thing you can accomplish in poker. It feels amazing. I only had a few cashes prior. I started off great with a fifth-place finish in the Hollywood Poker Open at the M Resort for $67,943. It was nice to break-even for the summer there, but at that point, I had bigger hopes and expectations."
One of those dreams was to go deep in the WSOP Main Event, which Tureniec qualified for right here on 888poker, a site he finds himself playing on more and more these days.
"I think I started off with $160 to the final step satellite," he says. "I got it on the second attempt. I play on 888poker mostly on Sundays. It's a good competitor in the market. It brings some balance in the poker world because, at one point, it was almost like another site had a monopoly. There weren't a lot of sites that focused on mid to high-stakes poker tournaments, but now 888poker is definitely one of the best sites for tournaments."
Unfortunately, Tureniec wasn't able to parlay that satellite win into a Main Event cash. Although his elimination meant he could play the Little One for One Drop, a tournament he cashed in the two years prior (he finished 15th for $31,804 in 2014 and 358th for $2,049 in 2015).
"Obviously, my hope was that I would still be in the Main Event, but I busted quickly on Day 2 and had a few hours off before registering the latest flight of the Little One for One Drop," Tureniec explains. "My flight back to Sweden was scheduled for several days later, so I had the opportunity to play the last event."
A Tough Road Ahead
In the Little One for One Drop, which saw $111 of the buy-in donated to charity, Tureniec found himself at a tough starting table, one that included fellow countryman and 2014 WSOP champ Martin Jacobson as well as Mark Radoja and Eddy Sabat. Tureniec only needed to fire a single bullet in the tournament, but he just bagged 15,100 on Day 1, which put him 745th of 786 survivors with 630 spots being paid. In other words, he was short-stacked going into the money bubble.
Still, the experienced pro waited patiently for his spots, made it through the money bubble, and began to build on Day 2, which he eventually finished with 542,000 to put him 28th out of the final 104 players. On Day 3, they all returned and played down to the final table, which included bracelet winners Calvin Anderson and Ryan D'Angelo.
Tureniec was short stacked at the start of the final table, but once again he sat tight and waited until the cards came to him.
“I started to pick up some big hands when we got short-handed,” said Tureniec. “It helped me a lot to get some chips when we were down to three or four players, and then when I was heads-up against [Calvin Anderson], I had a chance. Calvin was a tough player, so getting some chips to play with was very important by the time I got to heads up.”
The Final Hand
In the final hand of the tournament (Hand #125 of the final table), which happened in Level 37 (250,000/500,000/50,000), Tureniec opened for 1.075 million on the button and then called Anderson's shove of 11 million. Tureniec held the Q♠J♠, but he needed to improve against the K♠10♦ of Anderson.
He did so on the J♦9♥2♣ flop, and while Anderson had outs, neither the 3♥ turn nor 4♦ river was what he needed to stay alive. Anderson, an online legend in his own right, took home $324,597 for his runner-up finish while Tureniec's win marked the 11th WSOP bracelet win in history by a Swedish player.
"Swedish players study a lot together," he responds when asked what makes Swedish players so successful. "They take tips and feedback on played hands. They grow together as a group."
As for where the win ranks among his poker accomplishments, Tureniec wasn't quite sure. "It's tough to say, but it's certainly among the top three," he says. "Poker is getting tougher and tougher each year, so it's tough to compare the WSOP win to my win on the EPT five years ago."
Looking to the Future
Tureniec, who is now enjoying the post-WSOP downtime, doesn't have plans for the money other than to add it to his bankroll. "Poker can certainly swing a lot, so I'll start off by taking it easy and seeing how the near future goes. I'll decide then whether or not I want to make any big purchases."
"I haven't really decided what I'll play next, but after winning the bracelet it's tempting to focus a bit more on the live scene at the moment, so I might play some WPTs and EPTs," concludes Tureniec. He added that there's a good chance we'll see him September 2-4 for the 888Live Local Stockholm, an SEK2000 + 200 buy-in (~€230) Main Event at Klubb Oden.