The EPT in Germany – a story of raids and sensations

In April, the European Poker Tour will come to Berlin for its German leg of the season. The stops in Germany have never been short of extraordinary stories.

The EPT in Germany – a story of raids and sensations

When the EPT hit Berlin for the first time in 2010, it was to be an event that no one who was present will ever forget. It became more infamous than famous, because for the first time in its existence, a poker event was raided by a gang that was seemingly connected to the organized crime scene in Berlin.

Armed with guns and machetes, the four thugs entered Hyatt Hotel where the event was held, made their way to the poker reception, held the employees at gunpoint and took as much of the buy-in as they could stuff in their bags.

They were attacked by one of the security guards but managed to escape with several hundred thousand euro. The gang was later arrested because they made a couple of crucial mistakes: Not only did they sit in a fast food restaurant opposite the hotel for several hours talking openly about what they were going to do.

One of the gang members also didn’t wear gloves because he was only given a pair of yellow rubber gloves, which he refused to take because he found them uncool. After the raid, the men took off their masks and escaped through through a large shopping mall with surveillance cameras everywhere, so they were quickly identified.

Within a couple of weeks, all the villains were arrested, but the haul is still missing today.

Before the EPT moved to Berlin, it was held in the Hohensyburg Casino near Dortmund. In 2008, a young Canadian player named Mike “Timex” McDonald made his debut in the European poker scene by taking the event down and winning almost a million euro.

In an amazing run, he came back the next year, made the final table again and almost repeated his feat, ending up in fifth place. He then went on to make final tables at the World Poker Tour event in Venice, then in Deauville and also in smaller events in the Bahamas, San Remo, and Monte Carlo.

All this within two years and before he was even old enough to walk into a casino in the USA.

2009 saw the rising of a new German poker star. Having busted Mike McDonald in fifth place, young model and student Sandra Naujoks from Dessau went on to win the last EPT Dortmund and capture her second international title within a year, the first having been the European Championship in Baden/Austria.

With Holger Kanisch in second and Marc Gork in third place, this was the only EPT event where the top three players came from the same country.

Sandra Naujoks quickly became the new face of poker in Germany. Today, she is still travelling the world as a tournament player, representing one of the biggest online poker rooms on the internet.

In 2011, another German player called a lot of attention to himself. Max Heinzelmann, savvy online player with a reputation of playing hyper-aggressive, made the final table and only had to bow out to the eventual winner Ben Wilinofsky.

Undeterred, Heinzelmann went to San Remo only two weeks later and followed his feat with another terrific performance, making the heads-up again and losing again, this time to Rupert Elder from England. Until now, Heinzelmann is the only player on the EPT circuit who made two second places in a row.

Next month, the EPT is coming back to Berlin, and the German poker scene is waiting in anticipation on what’s going to happen this year.

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Suck-outs and failed bluffs

Two German poker players had a really bad week in online poker and lost more than $500,000.

Suck-outs and failed bluffs

High Stakes Players are the most fascinating to watch for the average amateur player. While you might be sitting at home grinding away at 1c/2c tables, these guys play for money you would never dare to risk (partly because you don’t have it). The highest games running online these days have Blinds of $200/$400.

A single pot can easily amount to the value of a middle class car, and within a week, some players win or lose as much as a house.

The two Germans who fared badly last week are called Tsubasa Manabe and Benny Spindler. Manabe, who plays under the nick Tsubi87, has been a regular online player since 2007. He is sponsored by German poker school PokerStrategy, where he became a Black Member in early 2011.

His family originates from Japan, but he grew up in Bensheim, Hessen, and speaks fluent German. Over his whole career, he has made around $500,000 profit with online poker, but last week that dwindled to a mere $180,000 within only a couple of days. Manabe lost $313,000 and was thus the biggest loser in online poker last week.

A lot better known, mainly because of his formidable success in live poker tournaments, is “Psycho”Benny Spindler. Spindler emerged on the live poker stage with a 3rd place in the $9700 PCA main event 2009, where he reached third place and won over a million dollars.

His nickname is no accident, as he is infamous for his hyper-aggressive, forward playing style.

He went on to make several final tables in large international events, and went on to win the English leg of this year’s EPT season for another $1,2 million. On the whole, he has over three million dollars in live poker winnings.

Online though, where he is better known under his nick toweliestar, nothing seems to go his way this year. Last week alone, he lost $220k playing his favourite game No Limit Hold’em. Over the course of 2012, his losses now amount to more than $700k.

It’s the worst run the German MTT specialist has ever had in his career. Although the presence seems to look bleak for Spindler, if he can’t turn things around online, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s only two weeks until the World Series of Poker begins, and that means a series of almost 60 live MTTs. More than enough chances for “Psycho”-Benny to make up for his online downswing of the last couple of months.

The World Series of Poker takes place every year in Las Vegas. The main attraction always is the $10.000 main event, but this year it will also feature the Poker Players Championship with $50.000 Byu-in as well as the biggest buy-in tournament ever: “The Big One”, as it’s called, will cost you a cool million to play in. That’s real dollars, not Facebook chips.

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