GDAM Day 2: Vorsprung durch Technik as the German wizards land in Macau
We've known in Europe for several years that if you want to win a high roller tournament, you had better have a German passport or else you've got pretty much no chance.
First there was Tobias Reinkemeier, then there was Philipp Gruissem, and then Igor Kurganov appeared on the scene. But just when you thought three was enough, we were introduced to Fabian Quoss, Niklas Heinecker and Max Altergott, who came purring off the same production line.
These German players are all good friends, travel together, and all discuss strategy constantly with one another. Several of them live in the same apartment block in west London, which must rival even the Panorama Towers in Las Vegas of a few years ago, where the likes of Deeb, Bonomo, Haxton et al once dwelled, for poker ability per square foot of real estate.
Rumour has it that they all often have a piece of one another at many of the big events, meaning that these German players have had an enormous slice of pretty much all of the biggest cash pies on offer at tournaments (and cash games) through the past five years. There's absolutely no question of any soft play, but they have found perhaps the only really efficient way to reduce variance to its minimum. Vorsprung durch Technik indeed.
All six of the aforementioned German wizards made the journey to Macau this week. And such is their strength in depth that even though Gruissem and Quoss have been eliminated, the other four remain in the final 35. If all things were equal, one of these guys would make it to the final based on the law of averages alone. But these guys have proven time and again, that all things are far from equal. Absolutely no one would be surprised to see at least two in the final eight, and possibly even playing heads up for the title.
At time of writing, at the first break of day two, it is Kurganov with the most. He has about 4.5m; Altergott has about 3.2m, Reinkemeier has 3m and Heinecker has 2.5m. The average stack at this stage is a little more than 3.5m, so they are hovering around the middle of the pack.
Things are getting really congested here, however, as many of the less well-known players depart and the others bunch around increasingly few tables. Take table three, for example, where Kurganov sits alongside Greg Merson, Dan Smith, Mike McDonald, Isaac Haxton and David Steicke, as well as Liang Yu and Keith Gipson. That is an absolutely brutal table, even before I tell you that Haxton is the tournament chip leader with about 9.5m in chips.
As mentioned above, we are down to our last four tables, but still three of those need to close until we finish for the day. We have now entered level 10, the third of the day, and the plan is to play two more levels before taking a dinner break. Then we race all the way to the final eight, through the bubble.
The top three stacks in the room at the moment are:
Isaac Haxton: 9.2m
Zheng Tang: 7.35m
Sorel Mizzi: 5.2m
But all of Tom McDonald (4.6m), Dan Smith (4m) and Tony Gregg (3.5m) are still going along nicely. This field also still features Gus Hansen, Mike McDonald, JC Alvarado, ElkY and Pratush Buddiga. Aaron Lim doubled up on the last hand before the break, outdrawing Brian Powell. Lim had A♦J♣ and hit a jack to beat Powell's A♣K♣, all in pre flop.
And... STOP PRESS! Isaac Haxton has just knocked out Dan Smith, with A♥A♦ versus Smith's A♠K♣ all in pre-flop. That puts Haxton to more than 11 million and WAY out front.