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Buy-In: $11,840 + $440
Prize Pool: $4,683,756
Entrants: 411

EPT Main Event

  • Jan 28, '08 - Feb 02, '08


Updates on Final Day (Feb 02, 08)


EPT Dortmund: 18 year-old Mike McDonald becomes youngest ever EPT winner

It can sometimes feel like a relief when the best man wins. There were a few likely candidates when play began this afternoon, but it muddies the sceptics view when skill, talent and potential combine in a player and are so easy to spot. Sometimes it can be tougher to put your finger on, but it was punctuated nicely tonight by 18 year-old Canadian Mike McDonald.

His is a fledgling poker career officially just six months old and it's hard to imagine him having already had a bad patch. He did, but it only last three months and in the last five weeks his upturn in form has involved five cashes now totalling over $1.5 million. And judging by the way he plays - calm, considered, with less gamble than most - it's hard to see him returning to those 'dark' days.

Mike McDonald

McDonald literally leapt into poker the day he turned 18, playing in the World Series of Poker Europe in London. His birthday coincided with day 1b of the event and he turned up, promptly paid his ten grand to play, found himself at the feature table and was eliminated by 2006 World Champion Jamie Gold. But McDonald took few negatives from this experience, playing live more and more and recording his first cash in the EPT Prague back in December.

Back then he seemed like dozens of other young players making their EPT debut, perhaps a little tidier and clean cut than most, but eager, aggressive and with little regard for the value of the chips he was playing with. He finished 14th in the Czech capital, collecting €20,200 before heading to Australia, the Aussie millions festival where a second and first place ignited his form. There was nothing stopping him and the EPT Dortmund was about to see that for itself.

So back to where we started today...

Seat 1 -- Mike McDonald - Canada -- 862k
Seat 2 -- Diego Perez - Spain -- 744k
Seat 3 -- Thibaut Durand - France - 148k
Seat 4 -- Johannes Strassmann - Germany - PokerStars sponsored player -- 827k
Seat 5 -- Christian Harder - United States - PokerStars qualifier -- 339k

Seat 6 -- Andreas Gulunay - Germany -- 560k
Seat 7 -- Torsten Haase - Germany - 369k
Seat 8 -- Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland - 276k

At the start of the day this one seemed straight forward. The story would be simple - Johannes Strassmann and Mike McDonald would gradually eliminate the rest of the field (McDonald in fact saw off five), the two would then shake hands and face a heads-up battle equal in chips with everything to play for. They seemed more confident and skilled than the others - both to people watching and to themselves. McDonald would later say that he had a visit from Strassmann at 3am the night before - with friendly rivalry Strassmann said he was determined to win his home EPT.

And no-one doubted him for the first few hours of the final. The 22 year-old German, likely to feature regularly on this tour in the future, was alive at the table - talking, cajoling, using table talk that was great to watch and harked back to last year's final when Andreas Hoivold talked to the other finalists into submission without reply.

American PokerStars qualifier Christian Harder, or 'Charder' would go first. He was one of the short stacks and took his chance finding A-K in the hole. What he couldn't predict was Mike McDonald holding aces. The inevitable happened and we were quickly down to seven with Harder picking up €85,500.

An hour later we were down to six. This time it was Frenchman Thibaut Durand pushing with A-4 straight after the break, called by Johannes Strassmann. So far the blue print for the final of McDonald and Strassmann seemed to be playing out. Strassmann held pocket eights which proved enough, sending Durand to the rail with €120,200.

Thibaut Durand

But things would soon go wrong for Strassmann. Keeping his aggression in check ultimately cost him - big raises would be trumped by re-raises all-in and whilst he proved most entertaining, he was also most volatile. Up to over a million in chips he then went through a black period that would see him out earlier than anyone imagined.

Then for a while we hardly saw a flop. A hand would be folded or re-raised all-in and when it was it tended to be Strassmann who suffered. The first two players had gone within the first 90 minutes but now there was a sense of the long haul. Three players, McDonald, Strassmann and another German Torsten Haase were all within a few grand of each other whilst no one, with the exception of Claudio Rinaldi, was ever close to being so low that an all or nothing move was required.

Torsten Haase - Germany -- 863,000
Diego Perez - Spain -- 851,000
Johannes Strassmann - Germany -- PokerStars sponsored player -- 825,000
Andreas Gülünay - Germany -- 643,000
Mike McDonald - Canada -- 528,000
Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland -- 383,000

To the Strassmann demise, which started with a raise re-raised by McDonald. Painful as it was Johannes had to fold. Whilst Torsten Haase worked his way further ahead attention was still on the two favourites. Then another hand - Diego Perez raised, Strassmann re-raised and Perez moved all-in. He might have been ahead but Strassmann couldn't risk it - another pot lost.

Then, two hours after Durand's exit the hand came to send Strassmann out. A raise, a McDonald re-raise and an all-in move from the German - perhaps intended to put an end to this nonsense. But McDonald called, and why wouldn't he? Holding kings he was way ahead of Strassmann who simply mucked. It was over. Like Michael Norinder in Prague - a million to none in quick time - Strassmann was out, for €152,000.
Strassmann in seventh had taken two hours to depart. Now the other players could relax a little. One of the major threats had gone - no more raising, no more table talk that could open them up at any moment for all to see.

Claudio Rinaldi, who had hung on well, went next. He pushed in against Andreas Gulunay with A-9; pocket sevens for Gulunay which did the honourable thing and held steady. Rinaldi out in fifth for €193,000.
As predicted it was not long before the next player was counting cash on the rail.

Claudio Rinaldi

Diego Perez had spent a good deal of the week as chip leader, holding it on day three well enough to stretch it to the final, third in chips. That he didn't advance any further was largely due to Mike McDonald. By now the Canadian had manoeuvred passed a few awkward hours and was in a good gear. He raised, Perez moved in and after a few analytical moments picked apart on EPT Live, the press room and McDonald's head, he called. It was a good one. The 18 year-old only had deuces but was ahead of Perez holding J-T. We were down to three with Perez going out for €193,000.

Spaniard Diego Perez

It didn't stay that way for long. Third place was taken a short while later by Torsten Haase. The German had become the dark horse of this final, slipping by the favourites to spend a pleasant few hours with the chip lead - the only player with a seven figure stack. But again it was Mike McDonald busy setting himself up nicely, calling Torsten's all-in on a flop of Q-5-3.

Heads up McDonald held the advantage...

Mike McDonald -- 2,900,000
Andreas Gulunay -- 1,200,000

Was there a gulf between the two player's outlooks? A solid player s he was Andreas Gulunay had achieved something he hadn't expected a few days ago. He had survived a volatile final table, kept out of trouble, and secured himself a guaranteed €528,500, and soon his play began to reflect this.

Andreas Gulunay

A McDonald bet saw Andreas moved all-in. Not the gambling type, with the chip lead and feeling no rush, McDonald mucked. Cue the German supporters on the rail to begin chants of "Andy!" Gulunay raised a drink to them and said a few words, all lapped up by the rail. But all the while the flash moves seemed to be heading towards something ready to stop him in his tracks.

The best analogy I could think of was from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. In it there's a scene where Indiana Jones, in the midst of a chase to find the girl, runs into a mercenary in full battle dress who parts the crowds and prepares to destroy the hero. He puts on display of spectacular swordsmanship intended to frighten the bejesus out of Jones, impressing the crowd who await the final act of victory. Indiana Jones simply removes his pistol, shoots the man, ends the fight, and gets on with the chase.

Mike McDonald tonight performed the poker equivalent.


The hand was well underway - a flop of K-7-J. Andreas had checked allowing Mike to bet 120k. Andreas, perhaps underestimating the Canadian or perhaps ready to end this once and for all, re-raised - 300k more which McDonald called. This was now a big pot and the king on the turn would make it even bigger.

300k from Andreas who was reaching terminal velocity - again he was called. The river a deuce and the pot grew to over 1.4 million. Some hands go your way by accident but McDonald had played this one perfectly - Andreas moved all-in leaving the words "I call" the only thing separating himself from an EPT title. Andreas looked over. When McDonald called he simply said "you win", mucking his cards.

Lee Jones, watching from the press room summed it up, "He played it perfectly - he let him walk right into it."

Even with the crowd's heavy preference for the German players there was nothing but applause for McDonald, not yet legally old enough to buy a victory drink in his hometown of Waterloo, Canada.

Gulunay accepted defeat graciously and was a worthy crowd favourite but he had been beaten by the better player - fact he acknowledged in a touching moment as the photographers swarmed around his victor, where he shook hands with McDonald and told him he'd deserved the win.

Some said Mike looked overawed with the result, not quite knowing how to react to the typical media onslaught that accompanies an EPT final hand worth €933,600. But I suspect this was all-in the original plan - that if he played well, didn't go against his instincts and stayed focused, he could win and win well. He is after all no stranger to success, just the obligations to the press afterwards.

Regardless, at 18 there was something special with this win, the realisation that perhaps we'd seen something more than a simply tournament win - a tournament that will be referred to again and again in the future as the start of a career that will be followed closely. With just three semesters at Waterloo University completed he may opt for a return to college life, but his short term future is one of more EPTs and poker, starting in Copenhagen.

Final table result of EPT Dortmund

1st -- Mike McDonald - Canada -- €933,600
2nd -- Andreas Gulunay - Germany -- €528,500
3rd -- Torsten Haase - Germany -- €307,000
4th -- Diego Perez - Spain -- €234,200
5th -- Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland -- €193,000
6th -- Johannes Strassmann - Germany -- PokerStars sponsored player -- €152,000
7th -- Thibaut Durand - France -- €120,200
8th -- Christian Harder - United States - PokerStars qualifier -- €85,500

Not yet out of braces, you have to wonder how better he can become. If this performance is anything to go by he may need to get used to the media attention sooner rather than later.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: The action continues...

Mike McDonald from Waterloo, Canada, wins the EPT Dortmund and € 933,600.

9.30pm -- Andreas Gulunay -- Germany -- eliminated in second place for € 528,500.
After a series of pots going his way the crowd were getting behind their man Andreas. On a flop of K-7-J Andreas checked and Mike bet 120k. Andreas then made it 300k which was called and it was already a big pot when on the turn, a king, Andreas made it 300k, which again Mike called. A deuce on the river - a 1.4million pot - Andreas moved all-in and with little persuasion Mike called. It was quickly clear why he did so quickly - A-K for the Canadian - the winning hand at the EPT Dortmund.

9.20pm - A board of K-3-4-Q-A. Betting and calling to the river where Gulunay moves all-in. McDonald mucks making it the first significant pot for the German since the heads-up began. 2.7m vs 1.3m in favour of McDonald.

9.05pm -- Mike McDonald and Andreas Gulunay shake hands. It's just the two of them now...
Mike McDonald -- 2,900,000
Andreas Gulunay -- 1,200,000

8.45pm -- Players are now in a short break as the table is re-arranged.

8.40pm - Torsten Haase - Germany - eliminated in third position for € 234,200.
We're suddenly heads-up after another mammoth hand that edges Mike McDonald closer to an EPT crown. On a flop of Q-5-3 Torsten moved in getting the call from McDonald. A-5 for Torsten but McDonald had hit the flop better with K-Q. A three-four turn and river did nothing for the German, leaving McDonald and Andreas Gulunay.

Whilst catching up with events on the PokerStars blog you might also be following the excellent coverage on EPT Live. And if you wonder how the coverage is put together and just what Lee Jones looks like, then the following may be of interest...

8.25pm - Diego Perez - Spain - eliminated in fourth place for € 234,200
Mike McDonald could be on his way to an EPT title, thanks to Diego Perez' chips. McDonald raised, Diego Perez moved in and McDonald tanked and called. An excellent read - Perez showed J-T to McDonald's pocket deuces. The flop, turn and river each missed Perez with McDonald watching passive behind his chair. Three players remain.

8.10pm -- Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland - eliminated in fifth place for € 193,000
A few minutes in from the break Claudio Rinaldi pushes all-in against Andreas Gulunay. A-9 for Rinaldi and pocket sevens for Gulunay. The sevens hold and we're down to just four players.

8pm -- Back from the break and it's Mike McDonald out ahead...
Mike McDonald - Canada - 1,109,000k
Torsten Haase - Germany -- 998k
Diego Perez - Spain -- 764k
Andreas Gulunay - Germany -- 760k
Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland -- 475k

All the latest from John Duthie and the EPT Live team...

7pm -- Play stops as players have an hour break for dinner.

6.50pm - Johannes Strassmann - Germany - PokerStars sponsored player -- eliminated in 6th place and € 152,000
Johannes started the day close to the lead but now finds himself on the rail. Johannes Strassmann re-raised a Mike McDonald raise all-in only for McDonald to call. And why not, he had kings. A third king hit the flop sealing the deal. Most expected these players to face each other heads up, but not this early. Five left.

Johannes Strassmann out in sixth place

6.40pm - yet another hand with no cards shown - well not in play. Claudio Rinaldi moves in over the top of a bet from Andreas Gulunay. It's a 466k pot that Gulunay can't call. He mucks but the Swiss wants to show his winning hand - Q-6, to the delight of his fans on the rail.

6.35pm - A big pot without seeing any cards. A Perez raise, a Strassmann re-raise and a Perez move all-in. It made for a 665k pot which Strassmann could no longer afford to play, mucking his cards.

6.25pm - Chip counts
Torsten Haase - Germany -- 962k
Andreas Gulunay - Germany -- 947k
Mike McDonald - Canada -- 710k
Johannes Strassmann - Germany -- PokerStars sponsored player -- 619k
Diego Perez - Spain -- 480k
Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland -- 395k

6.15pm -- ElkY Grospellier called it first. A board of 8-Q-9-5-2 and a bet from Mike McDonald of 140k. A few minutes of thinking followed allowing time for Team PokerStars pro ElkY Grospellier in the EPT Live commentary to call the hand as Q-9. Perez called, was shown Q-9. ElkY may have been pleased with himself but not as much as McDonald who smiled for the first time in a while.

6pm -- Torsten Haase has worked himself to the front with over a million chips whilst Johannes Strassmann and Mike McDonald have fallen off the pace. Claudio Rinaldi brings up the rear. Still six left with blinds at 10k/20k with a 2k ante.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: The state of play at the three hour mark

A quick start has turned into more of a drawn out strategic battle. The pre-final favourites are struggling slightly whilst the others begin edging closer to the title, as Kara Scott reports...

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: Action from the early stages

5.40pm - The two key players heading into the final clash. On a flop of T-A-9 Johannes Strassmann makes a big bet of 150k with Mike McDonald to act. McDonald has lost some of the momentum that got his to this final, whilst Strassmann, the most active of all the finalists, is ahead in confidence if not in chips. All this changes though with a McDonald re-raise - all-in. Johannes chews his gum slightly faster for a second and mucks his card.

5.20pm -- Chip counts...

Torsten Haase - Germany -- 863,000
Diego Perez - Spain -- 851,000
Johannes Strassman - Germany -- PokerStars sponsored player -- 825,000
Andreas Gülünay - Germany -- 643,000
Mike McDonald - Canada -- 528,000
Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland -- 383,000

5pm -- Torsten Haase bets, short stack Claudio Rinaldi re-raises forcing a fold from Haase. Some ripples of appluse from the Swiss' support on the rail.

4.50pm - Thibaut Durand - France - eliminated in 7th place for € 120,200.
The first hand after the break, Thibaut Durand pushes with A-4 and is called by Strassmann (that man again) with pocket eights. A four came on the with a king and queen but all the options for Durand were soon lost when a third eight hit the turn. Strassmann now has over 1 million chips.

4.30pm - Players pause for a ten minute break.

4.25pm - There's a lot of talk at the table - most of it coming from Johannes Strassmann. The only problem being that it's in German and tournament rules say that only English can be spoken during a hand. Tournament director Thomas Kremser steps in to cut it off so Strassmann simply switches to English, maintaining the constant chatter. He's the entertaining player in this final and could talk his way to a title, much the same way that Andreas Hoivold did last year.

4.10pm - Then it's Torsten's turn to double up, aces against the threes of Strassmann. Strassmann had wanted to move all-in pre-flop but he said call instead, getting slightly confused with the pronunciation. No doubt Haase didn't mind.

3.55pm - Another all-in, this time between Thibaut Durand and Torsten Haase. Durand was the all-in player and was behind from the off with A-5 to Torsten's A-T. But not for long. A five on the flop would do it - enough to keep Durand alive for a little longer.

3.47pm - Christian Harder - United States - PokerStars qualifier -- eliminated in 8th place for € 85,500.
Another all-in, more fatal this time. Christian Harder was the victim although with A-K he probably thought he had a little hope. But he couldn't count on aces - McDonald again. There was a king on the flop but not on the turn and river.

3.40pm - The first all-in and showdown of the day. Andreas Gulunay raised finding Mike McDonald calling for the time being. On a flop of 6-3-K Gulunay bet again but McDonald re-raised which Gulunay called. On the turn, a jack, Gulunay moved all-in, McDonald called showing A-J. 5-6 for Gulunay and a lower pair. The river saved him though - a five to give him two pairs and a double up in a pot worth 650k.

3.30pm - Johannes Strassmann matches McDonald for re-raising. Andreas Gulunay had started it but Strassmann was having none of it. Gulunay folds.

3.15pm - The first moments of play seems calm enough and then some raising began. Mark McDonald raised, Diego Perez re-raised but McDonald came back with a re-re-raise. Perez folded, no point going out this early.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: The players pick their winner

A few minutes before the start, time to find out who the players will think will win today...

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: The final table players

Seat 1: Mike McDonald, from Waterloo, Canada - 862,000 chips
Mike McDonald is the midst of some dynamite form that has seen him cash four times in just five weeks. Still wearing braces on his teeth and only 18 years old, his fifth cash will be here in Dortmund and is already biggest of his career. The math student scored big in Australia shortly after finishing 14th at the EPT Prague last month for €20,200. Known as 'Timex' online Mike is not nervous about today's final and it's not his first TV appearance. Mike was eliminated on Day 1b of the WSOPE on the feature table by Jamie Gold. That day also happened to be Mike's 18th birthday.

Seat 2: Diego Perez, 27, from Valencia, Spain - 744,000 chips
Perez comes from the Benimaclet neighbourhood of Valencia - the Mecca of Valenciano poker. He has been a professional poker player for just eight months but dedicates his free time to playing football, and spending time with his wife Maya and his friends. As well as poker, he also excels at the strategy games Starcraft, Warcraft and Dota. His success at EPT Dortmund follows closely on his cash at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January where he came 53rd for $16,000.

Seat 3: Thibaut Durand, 25, from Paris, France - 148,000 chips
IT engineer Durand won his seat at EPT Dortmund for just $30 online last September and has spent virtually every minute since studying hard just for this event - watching videos, analysing plays and playing live in a Paris casino. He has been playing poker for over two years, mainly online, but this is first big live event. His aim at the start of the tournament was to triple up every day which, aside from Day 3, he has managed.

Seat 4: Johannes Strassmann, 22, from Bonn, Germany - PokerStars sponsored player -- 827,000
Johannes, a former Starcraft Player, became a pro in October 2006 - leaving behind his army training to concentrate on poker. He started with a $500 bankroll and has never made a deposit since. At first, he focused on 3/6 Limit Hold'em but then switched to Texas Hold'em. He prefers online cash games, short-handed or heads-up $2k NLHE. He bought in direct to EPT Prague with PokerStars. His best tournament result to date have been so far have been 9th place at EPT Prague in December for €39,200 and last season's EPT Grand Final - 23rd place for $ 44,253.

Seat 5: Christian Harder, 20, from Maryland USA - PokerStars qualifier - 339,000 chips
Christian Harder, a student from Annapolis, Maryland, only played his first big live event in January when he made the PokerStars Caribbean final table and came 7th for over $142,000 after qualifying in a $650 multi-table satellite. He qualified on PokerStars for EPT Dortmund as well - and his now at his second final table in less than a month. After studying business last semester at Salisbury University, he decided to take this semester off to play poker. Known as "charder30" online, Harder is no stranger to tournament poker. He spends most of his time playing the biggest buy-in tournaments online.

Seat 6: Andreas Gülünay, 26, from Gütersloh, Germany - 560,000 chips
Gülünay first took up poker eight years ago but was stuck with Five Card Stud as he couldn't find anyone who knew how to play Texas Hold'em. Gülünay has German citizenship, but is deeply proud of his Aramean roots- the Arameans being an ancient nomadic peoples from Mesopotamia whose language spread across the entire Near East from 800BC. A former brick-layer, Gülünay is now a freelance poker tournament events manager and says he rarely has time to play himself. His biggest success have come at the Black Jack tables rather than poker but says he will be "playing to win" at today's final.

Seat 7: Torsten Haase, 42, from Siegburg (Cologne) - 369,000 chips
Haase says he's been a gambler for20 years, but only recently took up poker. His favorite game is backgammon and he periodically takes time off work to travel around the world playing tournaments. The EPT German Open is his first major live event but, thanks to his backgammon experience, he considers his ability to read opponents one of his key strengths.

Seat 8: Claudio Rinaldi, 22, Rancate near Lugano, Switzerland - 276,000 chips
Former casino croupier Rinaldi has been playing poker for the last three years - the last two as a semi-pro. He favours live cash games but has also had some tournament success - including 18th place at the 2007 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $36,000 with smaller cashes in the Italian Championships. This is only his third big live tournament and he now has at least €85,500 coming his way.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: It's almost a typical weekend

Anyone drawing back curtains in Germany this morning might not have recognised the place. After a week of grey skies and damp cold wind a spirit-lifting blanket of snow covers the ground today. Buildings are white, roads are slushed over, locals look like they're wearing as much clothing as possible.

Snow covered hay bail men in Westphalen Park this morning

Some are parents taking their kids to sports fields to proudly stand watching them in the freezing cold. A mile away from the Hilton hotel where most players have been staying, is the Signal Iduna Park stadium, a staggering spiky construction built in 1974 and home to Borussia Dortmund which fills every week with 80,000 football fans, some of who will make the short journey to Duisburg where Dortmund play this afternoon.

Signal Iduna Park - home of Borussia Dortmund Football Club

Today the Six Nations, one of the biggest rugby tournaments in the world starts in London and Dublin. And tomorrow a billion or so people around the world will tune in to watch the Super Bowl on TV. Even more - this morning CNN reported from a golf course made of snow.

No work, no school. Weekends are purely designed for sport.

Not that this concerns us.

For eight people in Dortmund today all this is merely a side show, something that ordinary people will use to fill the gap between now and work first thing Monday. Running around after a ball might not seem trivial to a lot of people but here it matters little alongside €933,600.

That's what's at stake today at the final table of the EPT Dortmund.

It's easy to forget that on Tuesday the list of starters for this event was 411, each paying €8,000 to make a combined prize pool of over €3.16million. It made the Casino Hohensyburg come to life, not with the song of the slot machines, but instead with the sound of 26 different languages each trying to converse with the other 25.

At the head of the chip list is a certain Mike McDonald. At just 18 he is the well known internet player known as 'Timex' - a handle he picked when registering online by simply looking at his watch. His form in the real world is also edging towards marvellous - four cashes in five weeks since the EPT Dortmund and now a fifth cash here - set to be the biggest of his career.

He has his work to do though ahead of second place Johannes Strassmann. Whilst McDonald looks like a baby-faced young man complete with braces, 22 year-old Strassmann looks every inch a poker player fitting the profile of a young man not happy unless winning. He could well manage that, and the battle between him and the Canadian will be the focal point of this final.

Not that there aren't other obstacles. Chip leader on day 3 Diego Perez cannot be discounted, sitting as he is in third position on 744k. And Christian Harder from Maryland in the United States is in equally good form, coming to Dortmund just a week after a seventh place finish at the PokerStars EPT PCA. He has 339k and talked about his chances on EPT Live...

Soccer, football, rugby, it all has its place. But at Casino Hohensyburg today there's only one main event.

And don't forget you can watch the final table from start to finish, as well as reading details here, on EPT Live starting at 3pm.

How the final table lines up -

Mike McDonald - Canada -- 862k
Diego Perez - Spain -- 744k
Thibaut Durand - France - 148k
Johannes Strassmann - Germany - PokerStars sponsored player -- 827k
Christian Harder - United States - PokerStars qualifier -- 339k
Andreas Gulunay - Germany -- 560k
Torsten Haase - Germany - 369k
Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland - 276k

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: Final table set for tomorrow

We started with 32, we finished with eight. Momentum would always get us there at some stage but no one really expected the day to go so quickly. There seemed no let up in the pace and almost from the start players began falling by the wayside, from Manfred Bass in 32nd all the way through to Bulgarian Alexander Milanov who ended his day on the TV bubble in ninth place. Just another volatile day of poker on the EPT.

Who was left? The line up for tomorrow's final table looks like this...

Mike McDonald - Canada -- 862k
Diego Perez - Spain -- 744k
Thibaut Durand - France - 148k
Johannes Strassmann - Germany - 827k
Christian Harder - United States - PokerStars qualifier -- 339k
Andreas Gulunay - Germany -- 560k
Torsten Haase - Germany - 369k
Claudio Rinaldi - Switzerland - 276k

All that's left now is to try to unravel the story of what happened in between.

Brandon Schaeffer - out in five hands...

Favourites at the start of the day were the two players that to everyone stood out from the rest. But for Marcel Luske and Brandon Schaefer it was destined to be a day of frustration. Whilst Marcel's demise came over a lengthy spell Brandon's exit took just five hands - five showdowns that as he said himself he was ahead in each time. He went from over 200k, to 40k, to bust. It took no more than 20 minutes and more followed. In the time it took to write the first headline we had already lost five.

Marcel Luske

Whilst all this took place a few feet away on the feature table, fortune shone brightly on Englishman Dan Carter whose high watermark hand came in a pot worth 250k that sent two players to the rail, including countryman Christopher Rossiter. It kept the heads up championship runner up in business a while longer but his day would end in 12th position and € 41,100. Still, it was typical of a day of big hands played fast.

After a glimpse at the intricacies of a feature table, and an hour for dinner, play picked up where it left off and in the same rapid spirit. As Carter went Canadian Mike McDonald began to light a trail to his seat in the last eight. The 18 year-old is in the midst of a hot streak with four big cashes, split between the EPT Prague and Australia, in the last five weeks alone. This one makes five and there may be little to stop him.

Chip leader Mike McDonald

Johannes Strassmann grew to be one of the key players of the day and his duel with McDonald may prove to be the match-up of tomorrow. They each claimed scalps in their bid for the chip lead and built stacks that will serve well in front of the final table cameras. 40k separates them and it's over 100k to the next player along - Spaniard Diego Perez who started the day in front.

Johannes Strassmann

So with the final set, the crowds heading off from the Casino Hohensyburg and a finale ready to play out the last word rests with Gavin Griffin. His name has been talked about all day with everyone working in the poker world only too aware of how great an achievement his Triple Crown win of WSOP, EPT and WPT titles really is.

Tomorrow has all the hallmarks of a fantastic final. There may not be the big names some expected but by Saturday night their replacements will be more than fitting. Mike McDonald is the chip leader on 862k, closely followed by local boy Johannes Strassmann on 827k. Thibaut Durand has work to do as the short stack on 148k.

It starts at 3pm local time tomorrow and can be followed all the way from start to finish on EPT Live and of course here on the PokerStars blog. You can also find more details of which players finished where by clicking here, and to catch up on the day's events and with Kara Scott and the EPT Live team...

Final table in view, the last 32 begin third day

Players in no mood to take things slow

A pause for air at the end of level 17

How to get that polished TV shine

The mighty continue to fall

Mike McDonald on course for final table

A few words about Gavin Griffin

All the action from today's play with Kara Scott...

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: A few words about Gavin Griffin

It will be talked about for some time yet but there's no harm in paying homage to the man - Gavin griffins Triple Crown record is already set to be the poker story of the year. The EPT live team and one or two others give their verdicts on a remarkable achievement...

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Dortmund: Mike McDonald on course for final table

Mike McDonald is the last Canadian in the EPT Dortmund, he is likely the only 18 year old left in the event and I'm pretty sure he's the only player wearing braces. But he's no newbie to the poker scene. Known as 'Timex' on 2 2, the Waterloo man has recorded four hefty cahses in the last five weeks in Europe and Australia, and could shape up to be the EPT Dortmund's baby-faced assassin. Kara Scott talked to him at the break...

Tournament update -

Daniel Ryan is our tenth place finisher when he pushed with jacks only for Johannes Strassmann A-J. The ace appeared on the turn leaving Ryan stranded, out in tenth place for € 52,200. We're now nine handed at the feature table. Don't forget you can follow the action on EPT Live.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at
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