Everyone once in a while, a ghost pops up at the high stakes nose bleed tables. Since the internet provides a shield of anonymity, it's not uncommon to see a new player that no one has ever heard of before. The name quickly becomes an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. Is it new blood being added to the mix? Perhaps a wealthy businessman or professional athlete giving the shark infested online waters a try? Is it a veteran pro playing for the first time? Is it a former high stakes player who went busto then built up a bankroll under a new moniker? Could we be seeing the next Annette_15 moving through the ranks?
In August, the online poker world was stumped because no one can figure the origins of "martonas." In the initial seven sessions to start the month, martonas went on a heater and won over $1.1 million and was not shy about butting heads with the biggest players on Full Tilt including Phil Ivey, David Benyamine, and Tom 'durrrr' Dwan. Martonas focused on the $500-$1,000 tables and the results were stunning.
Despite the upswing to start the month, Martonas' swings have been monstrous ... easily over $1 million a day. In one session, martonas was stuck over $2.3 million spread out over several no-limit hold 'em tables against Antonius and LarsLusak. However, martonas magnificently rode a rush at the pot-limit Omaha tables against durrrr and Ivey to only end the day stuck almost $860,000.
The biggest question I have been asked in the last few weeks? "Who is martonas?" The answer? I have no idea. The player is supposedly from Sweden. Internet message boards have been filled with rumors and speculation.
Some of the suggestions on the identity of martonas were out right hysterical and included the owner of Ikea, President Obama, and a Lithuanian cab driver named Martonas. There were a couple of legitimate leads as some online players hinted that martonas could be Swedish pro Martin De Knijff or Jonas "Nebuchad" Danielson.
Jonas has been Martin's protégé over the last year and it's been no secret that Jonas is backed by Martin. Perhaps martonas is really Jonas playing with a screen name that's a combination of their first names? I have yet to confirm the identity of martonas. If you get a chance, log onto Full Tilt if you want to see a significant amount of chips passed around and watch martonas battle it out at the nose bleed tables.
Everyone has been talking about the marathon session between durrrr and martonas that lasted longer than 24 hours. The two played almost 6,000 hands, primarily heads-up, at the $500-$1,000 no-limit hold 'em tables where some of the size of the pots would make your head spin. At least six or seven pots were worth in excess of $400,000. The biggest pot of the summer was won by durrrr against martonas during that epic session. At that point, the $500-$1,000 no-limit hold'em game was five-handed with Cole South and Patrik Antonius also seated at the table. Martonas flopped a set of Kings and slow played durrrr. However, that decision was costly and martonas allowed durrrr to catch up when he rivered a straight to snap off martonas' K-K. That pot was worth a staggering $603,000.
Since July 1, the biggest online winner has been Cole South. He's been crushing the pot-limit Omaha tables recently and is up almost $3 million during that stretch. The biggest loser since July 1 is Gus Hansen. The Great Dane is down $2.2 million, while Durrrr's summer has been bloody awful with a $2 million deficit.
Overall, in 2009 Patrik Antonius has won almost $3 million at the virtual tables with Cole South up $2.5 million. The big loser so far in 2009? LarsLusak from Finland is stuck $3.3 million.
Paul 'Dr. Pauly' McGuire is the author of the upcoming book 'Lost Vegas'. You can read his poker blog, Tao of Poker, over at www.taopoker.com.