2008 World Series: Being Katja Thater
Normally, during a break between levels, I'll catch up players for updates from a primary source. With Team PokerStars Pro Katja Thater I take a different approach. Few players are as focused as Katja during a tournament and prefer not to be disturbed. Just ask her husband Jan von Halle.
"The best word I could use is 'patient'. 'Patient' and 'aggressive'."
As reported earlier Katja's day 2 was one of those where you strap yourself in and hit the gas. Maybe you'll spin off the road leaving a glorious trail of destruction. Or maybe you'll speed past a few people, putting some distance between yourself and the pack.
With a huge stack yesterday the last level saw Katja endure a chip stack collapse. Finding herself down to 18,000 from 280,000 she was forced to refocus and effectively start again. Testament to the kind of player she is she persevered and made her way back to safety and 240,000.
"She's very confident" said Jan. "She believes no one has an edge against her and that she can play better than most."
It's the kind of attitude and never-say-die spirit that sees her into the last 40 players.
Jan, who is also the founder of the German PokerStars blog, went out of the HORSE event himself in level ten yesterday after a bad 45 minute spell. Kenny Tran acted as vanquisher.
"He ignored me for about three hours and then all of a sudden introduced himself and we started talking. From then on he won every hand against me! It must have been magic or something."
It's the first time either Katja or Jan have played in the HORSE, "We were more responsible last year!" But after a good year - which included a bracelet in the Razz event for Katja 12 months ago and multiple cashes for each of them - they opted for a healthy mixture of 'something to prove' and 'what the hell', taking their seats at the start of one of the World Series' most anticipated event on Wednesday.
It's been a memorable summer for Jan also, in keeping with his results from 12 months ago when he cashed four times and made the final table of the $1,000 No Limit Hold'em - albeit making only a brief appearance.
"I was the first player out. I moved with 9-2 off-suit. Whoosh... I'd do it again!"
This year was memorable for another final table and fourth place in the Pot Limit Hold'em, but also for something else, as I was about to find out...
"Did you hear how I missed a royal flush?"
This sounded good.
"I was on a table with all the top players and I overlooked a royal flush. I even checked behind two times! I'd been working in the office full time for six months - I was tired. I thought I had a black jack not a red one, so I figured I just had the straight."
Trying to hide that kind of embarrassment isn't easy and it's now one of the most popular stories on German poker forums, alongside a picture of Jan with a t-shirt reading "Royal Flush, checked behind."
"It wasn't a big pot anyway" added Jan in consolation.
Still, worth the t-shirt...
"Yeah, I think so..."
Back to Katja though, who currently sways to the massage tempo. Whilst she's been playing the HORSE her husband has busted out of two tournaments. She's in for the long haul. Her stack? That's now somewhere on the sunny side of 300k.