Join the Founder of Sviten Special Bengan at The Festival Series Tallinn
The Festival Series Tallinn is less than a week away at Olympic Park Casino and the Hilton Tallinn Park from June 27 to July 3.
While the highlight of the festival is easily The Festival Series Tallinn €550 Main Event, there are also plenty of mixed game tournaments and even casino-based tournaments like blackjack and roulette events littered throughout the schedule.
The Festival Series Tallinn kicks off with an event that will attract many mixed game players with the two-day €330 Sviten Special event on June 27-28.
Sviten Special founder Anders Bengtsson, also known in the Swedish poker community as Bengan, will be among the players planning to join the action in the Sviten Special event and shared with us his enthusiasm, the history of the game, and more.
“I like it. I love it. I love it so much!” Bengan shared with us about the two-day Sviten Special Event at The Festival Series Tallinn. “Every time there’s a Sviten event at any festival, I get so excited. It's so much fun because even though I know I might not be the inventor of everything, I know. I am sort of the founder of making Sviten Special popular. And everyone else says I'm the founder in Sweden at least. So, it's a little bit close to my heart, and now, I'm really, really excited. I love it so much!”
What is Sviten Special
Before we get into the history of Sviten Special, it is important for you to know the rules. Although in the USA, another similar variation of the game called Drawmaha, is played as limit poker, the popular Sviten Special game is played primarily as a pot-limit game throughout Europe with its origins coming from Sweden.
Sviten Special is a mix between Omaha and Five-Card Draw. Players start with five cards and a round of betting takes place. Another round of betting takes place after a three-card flop is dealt. Those still in the hand have the option to draw as many cards as they desire or can opt to stand pat with what they have.
Those that draw cards in either Sviten Special or Drawmaha will receive them face down in most circumstances to add to their hand without the opponents knowing any of the cards. There is a small twist when playing Sviten Special as opposed to Drawmaha when drawing one card. In this case, the dealer exchanges the burnt card with one face up for the entire table to see. The player can choose whether to add it to their hand or to ask for a new card, which would be face down.
A third round of betting takes place after a turn is dealt and a final round of betting after the river is dealt. Half the pot goes to the best five-card draw hand and the other half goes to the best five-card Omaha hand.
Don’t worry if this sounds confusing as it is easier to visualize. Check out the video to learn more about Sviten Special by a close friend of The Festival Series and expert Sviten Special player Peter La Terra.
Bengan Begins Poker Journey in the 80’s
Bengan’s passion for poker began as a teenager in the late 1980’s. This is something this author can relate to as it was the same time frame I began to play poker as well. This was before the popularity of no-limit hold’em with stud and draw games dominating the tables throughout the world.
“My friends and I started playing poker when we were 15-16 years old,” Bengan said. “We were playing small with today's value of around one cent and we played just about every weekend. And it was so much fun. We didn't know about the big scene, what was played in the United States or in the other parts of the world. We just knew five-card draw which we played for many years.”
To many, no-limit hold’em was something picked up thanks to the growth of online poker and the simplicity of learning the basics of the game. Bengan and his crew of friends discovered hold’em via a different path also familiar to many. The WPT began to televise in the late 1990’s and Bengan began playing hold’em soon after that.
Brief History of the Sviten Club
Sviten Special wasn’t on the radar yet, but that all changed in a couple of years. Bengan began to expand his network and eventually opened a poker club in the Swedish capital of Stockholm called the Sviten Club in 2003.
The club was initially just a bunch of friends wanting to play with their first Texas Hold’em tournament attracting 15 runners. The rake from this event allowed Bengan to reinvest in the Sviten Club which continued to grow and switch venues, each bigger and nicer than the next before growing into the biggest poker club in Stockholm.
Despite its growth, Bengan opted to close the club in 2007 but his influence lives on at many other poker clubs and now casinos around the world thanks to one big night where Sviten Special was born.
Sviten Special Born on a Wet Night
Bengan shared that in 2004, mixed games were becoming popular at his growing poker club. Games like Omaha, Soko, and dealer’s choice games were attracting players while many others were still enjoying no-limit hold’em.
“One late night, a very wet night, we were four people still playing in Vurra, Liggat, Viet, and myself,” Bengan shared. We just wanted action games action, action, action games. So, we thought about how to get as much action as we could. And then I said, ‘Okay, let's play five card and Omaha.’ And we started playing it was really, really fun. And we didn't have one open card when we first started playing. This was added later and I think that is a better game actually.”
The growth of the game was purely a grassroots movement. The players that played the previous night decided to start the game again the next day. Other players at the Sviten Club observed that game named after the club and wanted to know more. As the Sviten Club was the home to many mixed game players, the game picked up quickly.
Eventually, players in Finland, which also tend to like action games, got wind of the game during a Finland vs. Sweden poker competition and the game shortly after spread there as well.
The game can now be witnessed just about anywhere mixed games are played in Europe. This was in no small part to the traveling Cash Game Festival introducing the game to many different players. Now, you will often witness Sviten Special events at many events at Olympic Park Casino with cash games running throughout every festival. This author also has witnessed in Malta, small buy-in weekly Sviten Special events at Portomaso, where they also run cash games where they switch up the rules of Sviten to add even more variety. In Vegas, you will often now also see Drawmaha cash games, especially during the WSOP when many more poker tourists and professionals are in town.
The Festival Series €330 Sviten Special though is truly “special” as it is a rare two-day event with what promises to be a huge prize pool.
Respect for La Terra
Peter La Terra is known as one of the greatest Sviten Special players with a good combination of reads, aggression, and mastering the more advanced aspects of the game. While, Bengan did dish out some respect for La Terra, he did want to mention that at times it isn’t all skill for his friend.
“You can quote me on this,” Bengan said. “Peter La Terra is the most luckiest dude ever on earth when it comes to Sviten.”
Bengan shortly after shared that La Terra is a good guy who he hangs out a lot with and does in fact respect his skill.
“I think Peter ‘Lucky’ La Terra is the best Sviten player,” Bengan said when asked who his top three Sviten Special players are. “Especially when it comes to tournaments. I think Jari Virta comes pretty close and, of course, myself.”
We asked La Terra what he thought about Bengan’s skills. He acknowledged that nobody was perfect but that Bengan is a solid player.
“He is a good Sviten player,” La Terra said about Bengan. Maybe he takes one too many chances and a couple of mistakes like most of us.”
Value Your Five-Card Draw Hand
Bengan had one last parting word of advice for newer Sviten Special players that are unsure of what cards they should be investing in before the flop.
“Always, always, value your hand by the five-card draw strength,” Bengan advised.