2008 World Series: The big Danzer in the desert
George Danzer came right up to me at the break. It was hardly surprising. I’d been sweating him for nearly a full level by this time and as far as discretion was concerned the game was up.
There were a few reasons for my hanging around. Firstly as a part-German, part-Portuguese PokerStars sponsored player George represents one of Europe’s best chances of main event success. But also I wanted to check in with him about his World Series preparations that he’d told me about back in Monte Carlo during the EPT Grand Final. Something about heading north. The extreme north - to Lapland to ‘clear his head’ before Vegas. So how was it?
“I couldn’t go!”
Okay, well, that’s the end of that story... Well not quite.
“I wanted to go to north Sweden, Lapland, north of the polar ring. I wanted to hike there but winter came back. So I couldn’t go. It had been 15 degrees the week before – perfect weather to hike! Then it was minus 14 at night and too dangerous.”
My favourite part in that was “winter came back”. So to a simple spell at home before crossing the Atlantic...
“Well, I went to southern Germany instead to skydive. I did some 1,200 meter jumps.”
Whilst jumping out of a perfectly good working plane is not everyone's idea of peaceful poker training, George is not the type to leave anything to chance. Surely, with the adrenaline, the speed, the sinus clearing volocity, all this would do no end of good. So I asked him did it work?
“No!” he laughed. “Well my head was clear but it didn’t bring any cashes.
“I’ve played nine events and no cashes. I played four and then my girlfriend came over from Germany and we went to California for two weeks - so I was at the beach!
“I came back for the deuce-to-seven and pot limit Omaha hi-lo because that’s my game. I bubbled both of them!”
Aside from taking things in good deadpan humour, George is distinctive in a room full of players for his sharp suit, shirt and silk scarf worn on all of these occasions. Fine cloth and good stitching certainly brings a touch of elegance to a t-shirt and elasticized pants world.
I once heard that the silk scarf was to hide any sign of a pulse in his neck during big hands. It seemed an unlikely curse for a player of his calibre, but I went along with it. It turns out the explanation is much more simple.
“When I first started coming here I got really ill from the air conditioning." I use to have a big scarf and everyone was making jokes, so I changed it to a smaller one” he said, probably making mothers around the world, who forever warn their kids about the dangers of being cold, nod their heads in agreement.
But looking classy is relatively easy. Acting with class is something entirely different.
Two years ago the World Series main event was going well for George. Thrust onto the final table mid-tournament, he lined up against the then chip leader Dmitri Nobles, moving all in on the 8-4-7 flop with Kings, to be called by Nobles with A-8 in what has made for a memorable YouTube clip. George was already walking out of the Amazon Room when a second eight hit the turn, but showed a touch of class when he returned to congratulate Nobles with a hug.
So to today, and a table in the Brasilia Room.
“It's going very bad.. I lost a hand that you saw - I bluffed with AQ. I made a normal continuation bet on a T-9-3 board. He called, I’m thinking he has one pair, so I give up the hand. But now make a gutshot straight on the turn. I check behind on the turn and the river makes a four card straight. So now I have to bluff the AQ against one pair. I make a small bluff, but he made a set of nines!”
All this followed by a big laugh.
Another hand followed to take a few more from George’s stack. The hand? Those kings against ace-eight again...
So with all those plans prior to playing, surely he had something lined up for afterward, to unwind from the stresses of the Rio?
“I was going back to do a boat trip in Sweden, but now I’m going to Brazil in August so my girlfriend wants me back in Germany after the World Series so I’m going there.”
'Action' George Danzer, down to 15K but certainly cutting a high-flying gib in the Brasilia room.