2008 World Series: The AAs
Poker has always been an international game, bearing striking similarities to various ancient card games in numerous countries, with the result that historians are divided on its true origins. There are claims that it started in Germany, France, the Far East and America, among others, with those notorious gamblers in the maritime profession introducing their own variations in ports across the globe during shore leave.
PokerStars just might be the modern equivalent of these sea-faring poker players. The cardroom is accessible in hundreds of countries across the world, and PokerStars qualifiers come from the vast portion of the 118 different nations represented here at the World Series main event. Only yesterday, we had a friendly discussion among ourselves on how to pronounce PokerStars qualifier Mike Adamo's home nation of Turks & Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the West Indies with a population of around 30,000. Just for the record, there were 54,288 entries into this year's World Series. Make of that what you will.
This global appeal of poker has made players into stars in countless languages and German-speaking supporters now have a team of "PokerStars.de Shooting Stars" to follow through this World Series and into the next season of the EPT, in addition to Team PokerStars Pro Katja Thater. There are five Germans, one Swiss and one Austrian on the Shooting Stars team, hand selected for their proven track-records in the big games both online and off.
Sebastian Ruthenberg is arguably the best known Shooting Star, especially after he beat Chris "Jesus" Ferguson heads up in event 33, the $5,000 stud hi-low event, good for $328,756 and a bracelet. But today in the main event, it is the Swiss star Anton Allemann who has got the flashbulbs popping: Allemann began with 112,500 and one of the most intimidating table images around the Rio.
Since time began, the leather jacket, dark shades and icy, chiselled visage has been the look selected by rock stars to project just about the right level of disinterested cool to keep grown men in a loop of perpetual jealousy as hordes of teenage girls screech their approval. Allemann first appeared on the poker radar when he made the final table at the EPT event in Baden, Austria, in October last year, and it seems as though he has changed neither clothes nor expression since then.
Allemann has featured in a fair few photographs since making his appearance at the World Series this year, but not all have been for his image. He was one of only a handful of players past the 100,000 mark on his day one, and he continues to prosper in silent, effortless cool this afternoon. PokerStar, Shooting Star and rock star. Quite a player.
Allemann probably doesn't need a poker nickname -- it could justly be dismissed as passe -- but if he did he could do a lot worse than taking his own two initials "AA" and playing up their similarity to everyone's favourite starting poker hand. He might, however, have to fight it out for the nickname with Antonio Arce, a PokerStars sponsored player from the Phillipines, who is also in the fray today.
Arce also came to our attention for the first time on one of the PokerStars regional tours that have rapidly succeeded in changing the live poker landscape across the world in a similar way to the online entity. Arce is probably the best known Filipino player and he was a regular face on all of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour events in its inaugural season, fresh from cashing in the main event at the World Series last year.
Just last weekend, "AA" Arce won event three of the PokerStars Filipinio Poker Tour in Manila, before hot-footing it to Vegas for the big dance. He's also going strong in the same section of the Amazon Room as the other AA, Allemann. Both are well and truly on the radar, and definitely worth watching for days to come.