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Austrian and German News

The development of national pride in poker

by Michael Keiner |  Published: May 01, 2007

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Casino Duisburg - a brand-new, elegant, and large venue - opened its doors to the public recently in the western part of Germany. The management expects more than 700,000 visitors during 2007, and in almost every PR article, you will find the sentence that 80 percent of the earnings will go straight to charity. Shortly before the grand opening, I had the opportunity to talk to a young guy who was in training to become a croupier at the casino. Of course, I asked him how big the poker area will be. Instead of answering my question, he simply said: "Poker is bad." I didn't trust my ears and asked him why. His explanation was as fast as ridiculous: "If a casino customer plays poker, he will lose his money to the sharks on the poker table instead of spending it on traditional games like roulette or blackjack. He leaves the casino with his pockets empty and there is no benefit for us. If every customer would play only poker, the management couldn't pay our salaries and there would be no money for charity."

I don't blame this 22-year-old kid for his very naive point of view, as he just repeats the phrases of his trainers. They forget that between €5 and €30 taxes are taken out of every single pot, and they forget that with an average 1 percent tip of the pot volume given by the players, a big part of their salary is paid. What you can read between the sentences of this guy is symptomatic of the official politics in our country. Every competition to the government monopoly is bad, even if it is represented by a winning poker player, who might cut its possible earnings by a buck or two.

Once again, the PartyPoker Nations Cup went on its way, and once again I was selected captain of the German team. After our second place in 2006, the expectations of the German team were quite high. Though England dominated the preliminary heats with three victories and three second places, we were still confident, standing third before the final started. As always in poker, you have to find your spot and take your chance. If you are successful and win, you are a hero; if you lose, shame on you. Phillip Marmorstein, who played the first final round for Germany, found his spot when he flopped a set of fives in a heads-up situation, but his opponent turned a set of tens. On the river, all of the money went into the pot, Germany was crippled in chips, and was shortly eliminated in last position. When the results became public, the reaction of the German poker community was as surprising as unexpected. Of course, nobody can criticize Phillip for the way he played that special hand, and almost every poker player would have lost his chips with it. But in dozens of e-mails and countless posts in poker forums, I was massively criticized for this special selection of team members. The main stream of the posts was that in "normal" tournaments, it doesn't matter if a player makes a bad decision or not, or plays well or badly. But in this special tournament, we represented Germany as a poker nation, and we didn't fulfill the expectations. And inasmuch as there was no way to criticize the way we played, the target was the member selection. Most of the posts were made anonymously. What you could read between the lines was a question: "Why didn't you select me as a member of the German team?" So, I will give back the question to these anonymous posters: How can I consider choosing you if you are not even willing to give me your name? Anyway, next year's Poker Nations Cup is on its way, and in case that I'm selected again as the team captain, I do promise the following: The way on to the team is open for every German player who proves with continuous excellent live tournament results and his behaviour in public that he deserves to represent Germany in a national team event. spade

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