EPT Dortmund: PokerStars, a place to make friends

Noah Garcia and March Shwartz

by Simon Young

Welcome back to Dortmund for Day 1B of Germany's first EPT event. Another 250 runners or so will sit down today hoping to join the 59 who got through last night to tomorrow's Day 2.

We have a load more PokerStars qualifiers running today - and many have become big buddies already. Take, for example, Noel Garcia from California, and March Schwartz from Arizona, who only met at the hotel but are getting on like they have known each other for years.

Noel, an electrician, has been playing the beautiful game for 20 years, the last three or so on the Internet. "I'm not concerned about the other players here," he said. "They should be concerned about me! I have played so many live hands over the years - and matched that on the internet in three years because the game is so quick - that I feel confident.

"This is a great trip for me, it's the first time I've ever been to Europe and I love it!" Noel, who won his seat here in a cash satellite, reckons he will play a solid but aggressive game as he feels his way through his first ever big live tournament.

His new friend is March Schwartz, a courier driver for FedEx in Arizona. He's been playing Hold'Em online for the past three years, but was brought up on the likes of 7 Card Stud. What made him join the online poker revolution? "Watching Chris Moneymaker win the World Series and thinking, 'I can do that'."

In fact March came pretty close - he played in the WSOP Main Event last year and cashed in 613th place for $20,617. So the big live atmosphere here will not faze him. On PokerStars he plays under the name MarchMadness and usually frequents the $100 or $200 sit and goes.

Katja Thater in action in Baden, Austria, last year

Joining them and our other online qualifiers today are Team PokerStars' Katja Thater, playing in her home event, and Noah Boeken, the young Dutchman who joined the Team only weeks ago. Other big names lining up include Marcel Luske, Ross and Barny Boatman, Ram Vaswani, Michael Keiner, Jan-Peter Jachtmann, Roland de Wolfe, Liam Flood, Ben Grundy, Carlo Citrone and many, many more.

It promises to be a fantastic day. All will sit down with 10,000 chips, and will enjoy an hour-long clock starting on 25-50 blinds. The entry here was €5,000 and the prize pool is approaching A bumper €2,500,000!

The target set yesterday was by Norway's Johnny Lodden, the fearsome online player who is due a big live result. He has just over 100,000 chips - a total that me not be overtaken today.

Previous EPT winners will try - we have Copenhagen winner Magnus Petersson playing today, de Wolfe - who won in Dublin - and Thang Duc Nguyen, the German restaurant owener who grabbed the title in Baden.

Keep checking back here as we follow the action. Hold on tight!

Noah Boeken
Brad Willis
@BradWillis in