PokerStars Festival Hamburg: How it all began for Germany's top 10 all-time money winners

While many of the players in action here on Day 1B of the PokerStars Festival Hamburg Main Event are experienced on the felt, there are likely to be quite a few who are still seeking that elusive first live cash.

So if you haven't got a profile up on Hendon Mob yet, don't fret. Everyone's live poker career had to start somewhere; even those at the top of the game right now.

On the flipside, there are those online phenoms who step straight into the live world and crush right from the get go. It's something that German players are particularly adept at; of the top 10 all-time money winners from Germany, six of them either came first, second or third in their first ever live cash.

As we're in Hamburg, let's take a look at the first ever live cashes from Germany's all-time money-winning top ten.

1. Fedor Holz

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Known on PokerStars as 'CrownUpGuy', Fedor Holz is now a poker legend at the tender age of 24. However, back in 2012 he was just another online grinder looking to make a name for himself in the live poker arena.

He did that straight away, of course, by finishing second in his first ever live event - a €500 No Limit Hold'em Main Event held at King's Casino in Rozvadov in September 2012. The €15,320 he earned that day may pale in comparison to what he'd go on to achieve, but it certainly put Holz on the European poker map.

His second live cash? A win in a small $550 NLHE event for $4,695.

Total live earnings: $26,548,871

2. Christoph Vogelsang

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Vogelsang was an online nosebleed cash game player, so he was well known before he ever turned up at a brick-and-mortar casino. When he eventually did, though, he made an instant impact.

His first ever live cash? A massive £383,200, which came from a third place finish at the EPT10 London £50,000 Super High Roller.

Total live earnings: $15,021,464

3. Ole Schemion

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Another player who took to live poker like a duck to water. Ole 'wizowizo' Schemion's first ever live score was a victory, coming in a €1,000 side event at EPT7 Berlin back in April 2011.

Schemion took down €54,200 that day, and remarkably he won the exact same event a year later at EPT8 Berlin for €68,900.

Total live earnings: $13,374,014

4. Dominik Nitsche

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Nitsche's 2009 LAPT win

Yep, you guessed it. Four-time bracelet winner and recent One Drop champ Dominik Nitsche's first ever live score also captured him a title.

An 18-year-old Nitsche travelled to Mar del Plata in Argentina and took down the LAPT2 Main Event for a massive payday of $381,030 back in 2009.

Total live earnings: $11,357,338

5. Rainer Kempe

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FINALLY, a German high roller who came from modest beginnings in live poker. Rainer Kempe may now be a boss of epic proportions, but his debut cash was for just €1,572 in a €330 NLHE event in Berlin back in December 2011.

Total live earnings: $11,245,463

6. Tobias Reinkemeier

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We don't see all that much of Tobias Reinkemeier on the live circuit these days, but after so much success throughout his career it comes as no surprise to learn that he began it all with a win.

Reinkemeier's first cash came from a €30,500 victory in a €500 NLHE event at EPT3 Dortmund back in March 2007.

Total live earnings: $11,195,905

7. Philipp Gruissem

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The man known as 'philbort' came from the online world and...you guessed it, won a tournament for his first live score.

Gruissem's victory came in Macau back in August 2009, when he took down a HK$8,000 NLHE tournament during the APT for HK$117,750 (US$15,192).

Total live earnings: $11,031,639

8. Fabian Quoss

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Like Reinkemeier, Fabian Quoss was part of the first wave of German high rollers that swept the scene. However, Quoss' first cash was far more modest.

He finished 15th in a €330 NLHE event at the 2008 Vienna Spring Poker Festival for €740.

Total live earnings: $9,659,598

9. Pius Heinz

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Remember Pius Heinz? He won the WSOP Main Event back in 2011 for almost $9 million, and then decided to take a step back from live poker (despite some impressive results in the past few years, showing he can still compete).

Heinz's live poker career got off with a bang with a WSOP final table. He finished seventh in a $1,500 NLHE tournament for $83,286. Less than two weeks later he'd be the world champ.

Total live earnings: $9,028,569

10. Steffen Sontheimer

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Arguably the best live poker tournament player in the world right now, Steffen Sontheimer is an absolute beast, no question.

He began his career as an online cash game player, and so was already equipped when he decided to take his game to the live felt. He started this new career phase well, with his first live cash coming from a deep WSOP run in a $1,500 six-handed event for $10,743 in July 2015.

Two and a half years later and he's cashed for 740 times that.

Total live earnings: $7,407,916

For live updates of today's Main Event action, check in with our friends at PokerNews.


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Jack Stanton
@J_W_Stanton in Live Poker