On Tuesday night, a Belgian who goes by the PokerStars name Coenaldinho7 won the World Championship of Online Poker Main Event, banking $1.3 million and online poker’s most coveted bracelet.
It was clear from the outset that this would be no ordinary final table, and by the time Coenaldinho7 won, it was clear he was no ordinary champion. Before the final table even started, Coenaldinho7 was begging for a deal. He hoped everyone would take half a million dollars out of the prize pool and then play winner-take-all for the rest. For the better part of four hours, he couldn’t get a consensus. It wasn’t until four players remained that the hold-outs finally agreed to a rather modified ICM deal. And it was not without some chat that got a little contentious at times.
We asked him for a picture of himself, but he demurred. Seriously, the only thing he would offer is this.
So, who is this guy?
Here’s what we know.
Coenaldinho7 has no interest in being a big poker name. That is, he’s not going to reveal his real name nor his face today.
“Personal, job related, and security reasons,” he told us.
That understood, he’s not as secretive about other parts of his life. Coenaldinho7 comes from Limburg, Belgium. At 36 years old, he’s still an active soccer and tennis player. He and his girlfriend (more on her later) have a newborn son. He spends his days as the head of transport for a Belgian meat producer. When he’s not doing that, he’s swamped at home.
“My biggest hobby at this moment is working day and night, weekends, and holidays in our house to try and get it renovated before the winter,” he said. “Somehow I think I will manage now.”
While his newfound riches might go a ways toward helping with the house, Coenaldinho7 can’t buy extra time on the clock.
“With work and a five-month-old baby, I don’t get spare or free time,” he said. “I must say these three nights (of WCOOP Main Event) were tough. No sleep, the next day at work as usual, and in the evening babysitting (my girlfriend often works late). When she arrived, I’d be at my computer…making history as it turned out.”
We wanted to know more about his history and the history he made. Here’s an edited version of what Coenaldinho7 was willing to reveal.
Pokerstars Blog: How does this win compare to your other poker experiences both financially and emotionally?
Coenaldinho7: I started online poker in 2004, and have been attracted to it ever since. You understand the simple rules in five minutes of Texas Hold’m, but I realized I had a lot to learn about odds, tactics, bluffs, steals, positions, you name it. YouTube was a source to see legends in action, and I thought to myself, “When I can afford to register for a decent main event of any kind, I will prove to myself and whomever it concerns that I can do this.”
Only recently I have had some more means to do so, but $5,200 is (or was) a lot of money for me, too. I pulled (my WCOOP entry) off for $1,700 in a S&G. So, I entered the 2015 WCOOP Main Event, and I worked my ass off for three nights. I won. It feels bizarre.
I have experience with final tables but for $5,000-$20,000. This is something else, I must admit. Now, I believe it has been all worth it because I learned, learned, and learned. I am not the best player around, but instead of gambling, I steal, bluff and change tactics every hand.
I am thinking of quitting my stressful job, enjoying life even more, and maybe becoming a frequent visitor of online and live poker events. I’m not sure, though. I’m a good friend, an even better dad, working my butt off at my work and in my house. So, one can say I’ve already accomplished a lot, but I’ve known for 11 years–really this sounds unbelievably shallow, but it’s true–I could pull this off and become even more successful in life.
You wanted a deal from the very beginning. Tell us why you pushed so hard and what you think now that you won.
Coenaldinho7: It’s very simple. Nothing to lose at that point. I got my $100,000 and chose this tactic: constantly misguiding the others, or trying to at least, to let them believe I was so desperate to make these crazy request for deals, they didn’t know what to think of me. That–and I am so convinced of this–made my 3-bet steals look much stronger. Along the way I realized this did not make me very popular, but I was in fact entertaining the table and the spectators. I kept this strategy until the end, still shifting tactics on the table however. It worked, and I really got a feeling this ship wasn’t about to wreck before docking at its destination.
What are your plans for the money?
Coenaldinho7: Nothing spectacular except thinking about career move, finalizing my house without much help of my own two hands now, and spoiling the missus, my son, and my family and friends. No new car, no luxury, trying to help a good cause now and then…other than my own
You said your girlfriend hates poker. What did she say after you won?
Coenaldinho7: She was in shock. I told her about the $100,000 I already had before she turned in, and she couldn’t believe that for starters. After I won, she was sleeping. I sent her an email with the tournament results listing my name on top and highlighting $1.3 million, and than I shouted at the stairs that she had to wake up to read a urgent email.
She sent back that this is not realistic anymore and came down with a sad face saying that she was loving our life as it was going and why did I change that forever now? I understood her immediately and told her we’re not changing a lot right now.
Today she was enthusiastic and planning stuff. Go figure.
Anything else you want people to know about you
Coenaldinho7: I’m not gonna be the man I’m supposed to be anymore. With my hand on my heart, I am much sweeter, calmer, and more reserved than the chat yesterday. Believe me: All tactics. All tactics.
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Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging.