We speak to online qualifier and aspiring poker pro Magnus Persson, who’s hoping the third time is a charm here at EPT Barcelona.
There aren’t many certainties in the world of poker, but this one always seems to ring true:
If you ever visit the European Poker Tour (EPT) event in Barcelona, you will leave with your heart set on one day playing in the Main Event.
You could be a wealthy businessperson used to playing lavish private games for astronomical sums. You could be a local poker fan who knows the EPT comes to town every year but has never seen it in person. You could be a complete poker novice who just wants to pop their head into Casino Barcelona to see what a poker tournament looks like.
It doesn’t matter. You’ll leave wanting to play, and vowing to one day return.
Sweden’s Magnus Persson doesn’t fit any of those categories, but the 46-year-old former graphic designer certainly shares that desire. This is Perrson’s third time at EPT Barcelona, his second time playing the Main Event, and his first time as a PokerStars qualifier.
And based on his previous experiences here, it’s clear there’s nowhere he’d rather be right now.
Persson, who lives in Jönköping, Sweden with his fiancé and three daughters, first visited the event in 2018 as a guest of a friend who won a package on PokerStars consisting of a Main Event buy-in plus hotel and expenses for a week.
“It was great,” Persson remembers. “We got to stay at the Arts Hotel and I met Daniel Negreanu in the gym and Sergio Garcia at the breakfast. When these mega celebrities come up and talk with the regular people just because we’re having breakfast in the same place, it’s amazing. I don’t think it’s very common in other sports.”
He tried his luck in a Main Event satellite, but to no avail, so had to make do with a few side events instead.
But he vowed he’d be back. “I love Barcelona,” he says. “The casino is so good. I enjoy every bit of it. It’s something to look forward to every year.”
Back in 2007, Persson moved to Australia to work as a graphic designer for IKEA’s in-house agency. It was there that he began to play a lot of live poker, having first discovered the game as a child when his father taught him different poker variants.
When he got back to Sweden in 2009, he found himself in a hotbed of young, aspiring poker talent and began to take the game seriously, both live and online.
Although working full-time, Persson put together a string of small live cashes before enjoying a breakthrough result in 2018 when he finished third in the Sunday Million for $95,000.
Post-pandemic, he began to travel more for live poker, taking in stops in Dublin, Malta and Tallinn. It was in Dublin where he enjoyed a €15K score, placing second in a €1K High Roller, and he instantly knew how he wanted to invest some of his bolstered bankroll.
“I fired a lot of bullets [in online satellites] for EPT Barcelona 2022, but didn’t win one,” he says. “But I was really committed to coming here.”
So Persson used some of his winnings to buy into the Main Event directly. “It was amazing,” he says. “It was another level of poker that I hadn’t experienced. I was very focused.”
He ended up finishing in 277th place out of 2,294 entries for €10,060. A great result at his favourite poker event, but not the result he craved.
“I like the ordinary game of poker where people are joking and laughing, but this is something else. I want to contend against the best.”
Persson looks towards the feature table TV stage and adds: “I believe I can be up there fighting if I have the right go of it.”
So the plan for 2023 was clear: win an EPT Barcelona package and go again. This time around, his satellite attempts went much better.
“I bought into a €530 satellite and I won a package straight away on my first attempt,” he says, proudly.
And now Persson is back in Barcelona, battling away in the Main Event.
In recent years he has left his job as a graphic designer and is now hoping to make a real go of poker.
“I would like to do this full-time, for sure,” he says. “If I get a big cash sometime I might be able to do something like that. Until then, I’ll keep trying to qualify!”
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