EP10 10 Vienna: Max Heinzelmann on beer and late entries

Do you remember Max Heinzelmann? You will if you're on the tour, because he frequently drops in to play, but what about if you're a PokerStars Blog reading, EPT Live watching poker fan? Stretch your mind back three seasons to EPT Season 7. You'll definitely remember the young German then.

Heinzelmann finished runner-up in back-to-back EPT Main Events for a combined €1,000,000. Not bad work for a 21-year-old, but that's the heady fearlessness of youth for you. Heinzelmann has clocked up some live results since then, including a final table finish at EPT Prague just before Christmas, but has taken his foot off the poker pedal, i.e. he gave up for a bit. Now, at 23, he's got himself an American girlfriend who studies in the States at Columbus - they met through a language website, she wanted to learn German - and has been cultivating a (we'd say 'healthy') interest in beer.

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Max Heinzelmann at the TV

"I want to open my own beer or start brewing my own beer," said Heinzelmann, whilst waiting to jump into a €2k side event. "I'm really interested in it. I actually have a couple of friends in the US who are starting out to do, so I might be an investor there. Or maybe I'll do it myself."

Making decisions about your life is never easy, but when you've had some early success, like, for instance, winning a €1m in a couple of cards games, then the breadth of options can be overwhelming. If you were to pick your future out of a hat you could certainly do worse than unfolding 'Open a microbrewery' on your scrap of paper. But, for the time being at least, Heinzelmann is still a poker player: "I stopped for a while, but I just started up again," said Heinzelmann. "I'm playing more live poker because it's fun and you get to meet up with people and the social side is really nice."

Shall I stay or shall I go?
As mentioned, we caught up with him as he waited to join a €2k side event, a deep-stacked affair where you start with 500 big blinds. He'd just been talking with David Vamplew, who was looking particularly unhappy with his High Roller predicament: waiting for play to resume with just five big blinds to return to. He's since busted. While Vamplew was eager to hang around at the poker table, Heinzelmann was still reticent to sit down.

"I think it's kind of pointless to play that deep," he said. "Obviously you've got a good edge when you're playing that deep, but sometimes I think it's too deep. No-one ever plays a big pot unless they've got the nuts. It's obviously better to start out from the first level because you get to play against people who aren't as good as you, but even they won't go crazy in the first few levels. They want to survive until the antes."

Heinzelmann's argument may well ring true, but plenty of other players would likely dispute it. Why wouldn't you want to ante in earlier and grind up a few big blinds? And why wouldn't you want to book more time at the table? Each to their own. That is certainly part of the attraction of the game. You can choose when you want to play, what you want to play, and how much you want to play for. If Heinzelmann wants to pay his money and sit out a few levels, or if Phil Hellmuth or ElkY want to, then that's their prerogative. And if you think your edge is still going to be good enough later on, why not spend the earlier levels catching up with some other players on the tour.

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At the EPT7 Sanremo final table

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is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour