It’s pretty rare to meet a professional poker player who has never played a live tournament before. It’s even rarer to meet one who is also a sponsored pro.
“That was actually my first live tournament,” says Lasse Jagd Lauritsen after busting the record-breaking €1,100 Estrellas Poker Tour Main Event last week. “It was crazy, so sick to experience that. Sitting down, getting the feeling of it. It was lovely.”
Lauritsen–or “Wistern” as he’s better known on Twitch and PokerStars–represents the new school of content creators slash poker professionals. He might not battle at the highest possible stakes or have a graph like a ski slope, but he shares his poker journey with an ever-growing community through consistent streaming. His personality and content eventually caught the attention of PokerStars and he became a member of Team Pro in April of 2021.
But streaming was never an afterthought for Wistern. He’s been a streamer for as long as he’s been a poker pro.
“Every parent would have a hard time when their kid says they’re going to play poker full time, right?” ” he tells me, a couple of days after busting his first event. “Especially a 19-year-old kid like me who didn’t have the results from the get-go.
“It’s one thing to tell your parents you’re going pro and showing them how much money you’ve won. But I went full-time streaming and streaming isn’t very well known, let alone poker. But after getting the contract from PokerStars–even beforehand–my parents were very supportive. These days, my parents love it. They want updates and pictures all the time.”
It’s a few days since Wistern popped his live event cherry at EPT Barcelona and now he’s practically a grizzled veteran, having also entered the €330 EPT Cup (“I busted both before the money but made it pretty deep in both, without cashing. I’m playing the €2K today. I’m feeling really good about it, my head is in the right place.”)
We’re sat in the lounge area of Casino Barcelona and dozens of players are walking by, on their way to either the table or the registration desk. For many of them, today will be the first time they play a live tournament too.
So how did Wistern find the live poker experience? Especially considering that his maiden event just so happened to be a PokerStars Live record-breaker in terms of total entries.
“I don’t think it weighed on me too much,” he says. “My mentality always is to just go in and experience it. If you stress about it too much then the nervous energy will get to you, y’know? Just take it one step at a time, see what it’s like and take it from there.”
That’s a great attitude to have. Unfortunately, a few slip-ups are inevitable when you’re just getting started.
“It was so embarrassing,” Wistern says. “The first thing I did was sit down at the table and put out my blind, but I didn’t realise there was a big blind ante. The dealer drags in my blind and in my head I was like, hey! That’s my big blind! Then I realised I had to put another blind in.
“Right after that, I threw out a 500 chip to raise (the blinds were 100/200) but I didn’t announce it, so it was a call. I looked like a fool! These are things you just get used to. Counting chips and working out bet sizes, eventually, you just know it and you get a good feel for it. I’m definitely enjoying live poker and I plan to play a lot more in the future.”
(As he’s telling that story, high-stakes wizard Christoph Vogelsang strolls past us and takes a seat in the lounge. Wistern whispers: “We saw all of the Super High Rollers regging for the €100K the other day, it’s crazy. It was like, ‘hey, there’s this player! And there’s that player!’ You’re so used to seeing them on huge stages. But here at EPT Barcelona, you just see the huge names walking around.”)
The normal grind for Wistern takes place at his home in Denmark. He usually plays the morning schedule, which while busy has smaller fields and prize pools than the evening events.
“During SCOOP and WCOOP I get up there and play the higher buy-ins, but in a normal day-to-day grind, there aren’t many huge tournaments running,” he says. “And when there are, it’s the best of the best crushers in there. So it’s great to play these big events at a live stop and still feel like you actually have a chance of doing well.”
Speaking of crushers, this trip has been the first time that Wistern has got to meet his fellow PokerStars Team Pros, many of whom were early supporters of his. On meeting the likes of Lex Veldhuis, Ben “Spraggy” Spragg and Parker “Tonkaaaa” Talbot for the first time, he says nothing has surprised him.
“They’re just so nice. Down to earth. None of them are secretly arseholes behind the scenes. Everyone has been really helpful. We did a photo shoot earlier and the photographers were telling me that the PokerStars pros are some of the nicest people they’ve worked with.”
Wistern says he was lucky to have the support of the biggest poker streamers very early on, when he had just 500 followers on the platform. “I started streaming at the end of 2018 and by early 2019, I had Spraggy and Lex in my DMs helping me, asking if I had any issues with anything. They told me they’d seen my streams and they thought I was doing well and seemed cool. They were so supportive.
“I wasn’t on anyone’s radar. But they were so quick to say: if you ever need anything, we’re here. Same for Tonkaaaa and Fintan [“easywithaces” Hand]. Before I got signed to PokerStars, all four of them texted me beforehand.
“The whole PokerStars team is just amazing, honestly. The Spanish guys [Team Pros Ramon Colillas, Alberto Perez Merendez, David Gutierrez Gomez, Guillermo Sanz Inclan and Steve Enriquez Gallo] and Papo [Argentinian Team Pro Alejandro “Papo MC” Lococo] asked me to go for dinner with them during the €1K as we’d been sweating each other and sitting close to each other. We got some insane sushi. They’re just super nice guys.
“It’s a good environment to be in.”
We’re not surprised to hear that Wistern has fallen in love with the atmosphere at live poker events. It’s pretty rare to find a poker player who doesn’t enjoy their time at EPT Barcelona.