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Austria and German News

Poker Goes Academic

by Michael Keiner |  Published: Jan 01, 2007

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Poker is a game of skill. Poker needs analytical abilities, mathematical skills, logic senses, and a lot of psychological knowledge. So, what makes more sense than to search for the best German poker players among our leading intelligence, university students. The students PR agency and publisher UNICUM picked up the idea, and in cooperation with 888.com, they organized the University Poker Cup. It was split into two rounds. The first qualification round was an online freeroll tournament on PacificPoker, in which the winner was rewarded with a seat in the final. The final was a no-limit hold'em live tournament, held in the beautiful "Zillertal" in Austria, where the competitors stayed in a luxury hotel with skiing during the day and playing poker at night, all expenses on behalf of 888.com. The event got a lot of media attention by German TV, and the winners received their study fees for the next year.

Another great achievement for German poker was the successful organisation of the PartyPoker German Open in London. This TV invitational was produced by Matchroom Ltd. several weeks ago. Invited were 35 poker players from Austria and Germany, as well as six celebrities from sports and show biz. The celebrities had to play the very first heat as a prologue, and the winner got a seat in the first regular heat. The TV-friendly format of a shorthanded sit-and-go, in which the winner went to the final, brought a lot of action and could prove that poker in Germany is on a very skillful international level. I had to play in heat No. 2, which was a pretty good mixture of guys from the "old guard," like Lothar Landauer and me, and some representatives from the "new generation," like George Danzer and a 22-year-old guy named Sebastian Ruthenberg from Hamburg. For insiders, Sebastian is not so new; he already had played the European Poker Tour events in Barcelona and Baden, and has huge self-confidence. Sebastian nicknamed himself "The Luckbox," and one more time he proved that this name is absolutely correct. We were down to four players with nearly the same chip counts. Sebastian reraised three times in a row my attempts of stealing the blinds. The fourth time, I raised with A-10 and received the obligated all in from him. This time, I called for nearly the same amount of chips. He showed me A-5. But if your nickname is Luckbox, a 5 has to come, sending me to the rail. Sebastian not only won the heat, he won the whole tournament. Congratulations to him!

The current pokermania was also proven by the field of competitors at the EPT event in Baden. Normally, the percentage of German-speaking players at EPT events is less than 4 percent. Baden had seen 21 percent of the players from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. After Scandinavia, we brought the biggest group to this tournament. And everyone could see how well they played. Among the final eight were two Germans: Sasa Biorac from Wiesbaden finished in fifth place, and the winner was Thang Nguyen, a German guy with Vietnamese roots. Nguyen is running a restaurant in Hamburg, and I have played in many pot-limit Omaha cash games with him, where he earned my full respect. He has a great attitude, and always wears a friendly smile on his face. During recent years, you could see him travelling to some chosen international tournaments, like Amsterdam and Bregenz, and I hope that his recent success in Baden will be motivation enough to see him in the future on the international circuit as a regular competitor. Congratulations to him, as well! spade

Michael Keiner is a German poker pro sponsored by 888.com. You can find him playing online at PacificPoker.com.