Left in the dark
Arguably the biggest weekend of the online poker calendar, it was a crazy few days on the virtual felt as most of the sites featured the main events of their biggest festivals of wealth redistribution.
Titles were won and hundreds of millions of dollars changed hands but perhaps nothing was quite so celebrated or dramatic as the final stages of a $5,200 PKO event on PokerStars, featuring popular poker player, Twitch streamer, and Team Pro Fintan Hand plus a host of famous players including Viktor “limitless” Malinowski, Andy “BowieEffect” Wilson, Jon “Luckyfish89” Clark, Thomas “WushuTM” Muehloecker and Jareth “jareth3542” East.
Hand was broadcasting his progress on his Twitch Channel, replete with all the hand analysis, finger wagging, and “pump it up” dancing for which his virtual rave streams are famous. When it got down to heads-up play, Hand faced off against Argentinian player Lucas Landa for his second title. 15,000 viewers were glued to their screens, anticipating some poker history.
Hand took the lead. Hand lost the lead. Hand got the lead back again. Suddenly, the Twitch stream crashed and fans were left in the dark while Hand was literally left in the dark, after an ill-timed power outage in his building.
Hand spotted by Pokerstars in 2017
In 2015, Irish poker professional Fintan “EasyWithAces” Hand was one of the first poker players to stream his play (almost) live on Twitch, a streaming platform popularized by e-gamers. A SNG player at the time, Hand slowly but consistently built his bankroll and fan base.
Hand’s Twitch fans were tuning in and their numbers were considerable.
In 2017, Hand made the Irish Poker Open final table, donning a green suit and entering with a “billionaire strut” and it was remarked that the streamed coverage of the final day had bigger audience numbers than expected. Commentator Dara O’Kearney was the quickest to figure out why. Hand’s Twitch fans were tuning in and their numbers were considerable.
The final table did not go as planned for Hand and after making a mistake which still haunts him to this day, he ultimately busted in 7th place for €19,445 ($23,550). It was a painful lesson about the cutthroat nature of tournament poker, but one that would motivate him to push on and improve his game further.
In July of that year, Hand’s hard work was recognized in a big way when he signed with industry leader PokerStars. Committing himself to a grueling schedule, he streamed 50-60 hours every week and when he wasn’t entertaining his ever-growing legions of fans, he was putting in time off the tables to study under Jordan “BBZ” Drummond.
Previous best was in SCOOP 2020
By 2020, Hand’s reputation was solidified as one of poker’s biggest Twitchers, always in the group of three fighting it out for the second spot behind the seemingly untouchable Lex Veldhuis. With the wind behind him, Hand took on an exhausting SCOOP schedule, culminating in a career best score on the final Sunday. In Event 69-H, the $1,050 Afternoon Deep Stack, watched by over 20,000 viewers, he outlasted 408 opponents, defeating Antoine Saout heads-up for a career-best $73,653 score.
it’s daunting when you know that you’re going to be doing a lot of buy-ins”
Speaking with VegasSlotsOnline News, Hand was quietly confident ahead of this year’s SCOOP which kicked off three weeks ago. He credited his sharpness to a combination of BBZ’s coaching and the DTO Trainer. While he acknowledged the relentless and high variance nature of the series, he was still upbeat about his chances of a big score, saying: “It’s daunting when you know that you’re going to be doing a lot of buy-ins, but I’m feeling really good about my game.”
Four days ago, however, Hand was punch-drunk and $40,000 in the hole after a rough SCOOP to that point. It was a testament to his inner strength and resilience that he continued to get up on the horse and as is so often the way in poker, his fortunes changed in the blink of an eye.
On Thursday, Hand entered Event 82-H, the $5,200 buy-in PKO, and it’s fair to say that after 18 days of pain, he got his just desserts and more.
Hand went on a heater
Hand went on a heater during Day 1, taking to Instagram right after to describe how he “didn’t lose a hand for two hours.” With 37 players left, Hand had 20% of the tournament chips, a commanding chip stack, and bounties galore.
By the time Day 1 was over and the final table was set, he was third of nine left with a guaranteed cash of $10,000 and another $22,000 in accumulated bounties. In buoyant mood, he took to Twitter to acknowledge the toughness of the remaining competition but also to remind us of his own credentials:
Audience grew during marathon final table
On Saturday evening, Hand had the perfect start to the final table, eliminating Malinowski early with pocket Queens against the Polish pro’s J-9 on a Jack-high board. He was into second place with another bounty captured.
For the next few hours, players busted around him and Hand laddered without adding to his bounty total. By the time there were four left, Landa had a commanding chip lead while Wilson, Clark, and Hand had similar stacks. Wilson busted and Hand dropped back to a distant third. His largest career score was guaranteed, but his sights were still firmly on his second SCOOP title.
A slice of good fortune came Hand’s way when he shoved over Landa’s button open with A-7 and got there versus the Argentinian’s pocket Tens. From there, he battled back, and as he did, his audience grew and grew. By the time he got heads-up, Hand was being watched by over 12,000 people. That number was over 15,000 people when his connection went down, but luckily, fans could switch over to the PokerStars channel to watch their hero complete a famous victory, winning $232,156.
Had to celebrate in the dark
Posting a video to candlelight from his Malta apartment, Fintan explained how the power went in his building literally six seconds after the tournament ended. “What an anti-climax,” said Hand, gutted that his loyal audience missed out on the biggest moment of his career to date. Speaking to VegasSlotsOnline News, he described it as “pure madness” and “a wild ending.”
Two wins from two SCOOP final tables is certainly an extraordinary achievement, equaled only by Scottish pro and Triple Crown winner Niall Farrell.
The money and the title are of the utmost importance, of course, but for a man who has shared almost every minute of his poker journey for six years, what a cruel twist of fate it was that he could not share this special moment. Hopefully for Hand and his fans, another deep run is on the horizon as takes his seat tonight for Day 2 of the $10,000 buy-in SCOOP Main Event.