EPT10 Grand Final: Poker's reluctant superstar: Christoph 'Tight-Man1' Vogelsang
There are countless ways by which poker players try to attract attention, from the outlandish outfits to the nine-man entourage and everything in between. But this is a game in which money talks louder than everything else, which is the only reason Christoph Vogelsang's introduction to the European Poker Tour has caused such a stir.
Vogelsang is modestly attired, impeccably well-mannered and politely spoken. He would not, as the saying goes, say boo to a goose, much less bring it to the poker table dressed in Ed Hardy and some Beats by Dre headphones.
But Vogelsang made his debut on the EPT at last October's £50,000 Super High Roller event in London, where he finished third for about $620,000. He then reappeared at the €100,000 Super High Roller this week in Monaco, then played the €250,000 sit-down cash game on Thursday night. Today he is in the €10,000 Main Event, and when he's not wagering enormous sums in the live tournament arena, he is tearing up the nosebleed cash games online.
It has been quite the introduction for the 28-year-old from Sassenburg, near Dortmund, in Germany, but he has none of the ridiculous trappings of the circles in which he mixes. Indeed, Vogelsang is single-handedly proving that you can be properly big-time in this game without being a Big Time Charlie.
"My parents have been sceptical, I'd say, but I have a very good relationship with them and we talk about everything," Vogelsang told PokerStars Blog today. "I tell them how I feel about poker. They are obviously worried in some way about the environment and about not searching for a usual job. But they know that I like the game and that I've been quite successful, so that's good."
"Quite successful" is something of an understatement. Vogelsang took up playing poker seriously while he was studying for a masters degree in London, beginning by depositing $50 and taking it slowly. By 2012-13 he had graduated not only from university but also from the low-limit games, and he is now a regular at the nosebleeds on PokerStars and Full Tilt, where he plays as "26071985" and "Tight-Man1", respectively.
At time of writing, "Tight-Man1" has a tracked profit of $2,146,610 on one major online poker database, and "26071985" has $830,138. That puts him in the top 20 most profitable players since records began*--even if it has not, resolutely, gone to Vogelsang's head.
"I'm not playing poker in order to make money to buy something, it's just good to be able to live off poker and then hopefully to do something useful with the money," Vogelsang said. "I don't have a car and I don't really buy any expensive things, except I just travel to these tournaments and go on vacation when I want to."
Vogelsang is a committed Christian and attends two prayer groups in London, where he still lives -- one Catholic and one ecumenical -- and considers his religion to be an important factor in keeping his feet on the ground. "In poker you just play for money so I never pray for poker," he said. "But faith is very important for me, and it gives me a direction in life, what is important."
He talked about potentially gaining some venture capital experience and setting up a business, as well as putting his money to more philanthropic use. "I definitely want to donate money to charities I appreciate," he said.
Vogelsang's humility and shrewdness are the result of several factors -- his family and faith, of course, but also a strangely appropriate pair of university degrees. "I did business and economics in my undergrad and my masters was risk and finance," Vogelsang said. "In many ways, you can say that you learn a lot there. You just can't be careful enough in poker, to really know exactly how much money you want to risk in a tournament or a cash game, how much money you're willing to lose in a month, or six months."
Like any serious player in the modern era, Vogelsang is also a great scholar of the game, utilising plenty of the available software to know the correct lines to take in particular spots against particular adversaries. The frightening thing for his opponents is that he considers his game to have improved more dramatically over the past seven months, since he finished full time studies, than it did in any of his career prior to that. And he's going to continue getting better.
"You really want to know as much about your opponents' tendencies as possible, and you want to know exactly in which situations they are over-folding, over-bluffing, and what else about their playing style," he said. "It's just great if you have more time."
The freedom from full time study will also allow him to travel more and Vogelsang said he intends to visit every EPT festival at which there is a Super High Roller event. "I haven't decided for how much longer I want to play poker, but I'll definitely play the next 18 or 24 months, maybe longer," he said.
That time period will allow him to play the Big One for One Drop in Las Vegas this summer, which carries a $1m entry fee, and for which he is already registered. He said that he will, of course, be selling a large portion of his action for the event, but one gets the impression he'll not be letting even poker's biggest buy in go to his head.
"I'm used to playing for rather high amounts of money," he said, with exemplary command of understatement.
*The online tracking databases are neither exhaustive nor perfectly precise but offer the closest indications of profit and loss that exist in the online game.
All the hand-by-hand action from the tournament floor is available in the panel at the top of the main EPT Grand Final page. Details of the Super High Roller final table is on the Super High Roller page, and it's also being streamed on EPTLive.