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Erik Sagstrom — The Salmon

It’s not that hard to find Erik Sagstrom, but getting to talk to him is another story. Just flip on your computer and Sagstrom is there. You can find the Swede night or day in his “office.” It’s just that Sagstrom’s “office” is out in public, in basically the highest-stakes poker games on the Internet. And like any sports star from any generation, Erik would just as soon be left alone, so he can concentrate on business and get down to his game. But the fans aren’t likely to let that happen.

It’s not unusual for Sagstrom to be locked up at some table on some Internet poker site, and represented only by a screen name, a pile of chips, and a pattern of decisions: bet, call, raise, or fold. That’s all you can see. And although the hundreds of spectators who are watching these big Internet poker games at any given time may not know his real name, they know who he is. “In America they call me ‘Erik123,’ and in Europe they call me ‘The Salmon,’” Erik said. “It doesn’t really matter.” But such is the nature of being the biggest name in Internet poker.

To those who are up to date on happenings in the poker world, the incredible thing is not that a person such as Erik Sagstrom exists. What’s incredible is that he is only 21 years old. And that’s one reason why I was so excited to finally be able to talk to the man behind the mouse. I caught up with Erik by phone when he was out of the office, when in this generation of always being wired up, Sagstrom was for a few moments unable to connect — because he was driving in a car. And I felt like I knew …