When I first met Johannes Strassmann in January 2008 at the European Poker Tour in Dortmund, he was already being talked of highly. Just six weeks earlier he had finished ninth at EPT Prague, and he was confident about playing his first home EPT. In fact, he put that confidence to good use, and finished the main event with a strong sixth place.
It was the start of an extraordinary year - even if he was only 23 at time - and the launch of an exceptional poker career as he went on to reach two more EPT final tables (Sanremo and London), was nominated as 'EPT Player of the Year' and signed his first contract as a member of the German Team PokerStars Pro.
A life of such great promise was cut short when Johannes was found dead in Ljubljana, Slovenia last week. He was 29.
A great confidence in his game should not have been confused with arrogance. Johannes was anything but egocentric. In the poker scene, with players and media, he was regarded as open and helpful; a gentleman at the poker table. In addition, he was involved in various charity projects such as All in 4 Kids.
And Johannes was a guy who continued to improve - he was very focused, very ambitious. Playing poker alone was not enough, and after a few years he founded the poker school Card Coaches with Austrian professional player Markus Golser. This coincided with Johannes withdrawing more and more from the big live poker stage.
After more than two years he got out of the project, but still stayed away from most of the major events, deciding to focus instead on his very successful online game.
Yet I felt it was only a matter of time before he came back to the live scene. There was unfinished business; he had a dream to fulfill.
"I want to win a really big tournament and then it is really possibly that I quit playing poker," Johannes told me at our last meeting just a few weeks ago with his usual infectious laugh.
With his talent and ambition, his passion and his self-confidence, he had already fulfilled many dreams. Like financial independence and a globetrotting lifestyle. I have no doubt that, given more time, his dream of a big title would have come true.
The fact that Johannes won't be at the poker tables anymore, and that he can't fulfill this dream, is simply not understandable for me and many colleagues. It is sad reality.
* Robin Scherr runs the German PokerStars Blog.