WSOP 2012: Heitmann holds on in tough spot

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Jan Heitmann is a man who likes to stay positive. Almost everything in his life is positive, from his family life back home; to the fact he can entertain both on the piano and with sleight of hand, being an accomplished pianist and magician (I once accused him of being a witch). I say almost everything because his position right now is a difficult one.

The German Team Pro said earlier this week that any day where you bag up chips is a good one, and that will certainly include today. The strain is showing on Heitmann. He sits to the right of Jason Somerville, who himself sits to the right of Ronnie Kaiser, two of the better players remaining in the field. It makes Heitmann's job all the more difficult, although not as difficult as that of the woman behind him wearing flashing bunny ears selling cigars, cigarettes, candy and gum from a tray.

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Jan Heitmann on the European Poker Tour

Heitmann looks tired, his face doing its best to look alert while combating inevitable fatigue. He's not alone. We're into level 18 - that makes this the 36th hour of poker - and the time difference with Europe means that by rights we should all be asleep. His hair is slightly out of place, as though he walked here from the Strip in 40 degree heat and did his best on arrival to smarten up.

His immediate concern however is at the table, where he just clashed with Kaiser in level 18, losing capital to the Swiss EPT winner.

Heitmann raised from the button, making it 12,000, only for Kaiser to defend vigorously from the big blind, making it 45,000. Testing his resolve, Heitmann made it 105,000 before Kaiser raised again to 150,000. This seemed to be a magic number, alerting camera teams everywhere to home in on Heitmann and the Kaiser.

Heitmann looked serious, as he always does. When involved in a hand his face takes on an impenetrable veneer, giving nothing away until the hand is complete. This time he kept that veneer until his arms flinched up into the air and a grin flashed across his face before he then surrendered his cards. It seemed the right thing to do and Kaiser knew it, being gracious enough to flash his pocket kings to assuage any nagging doubts left in Heitmann.

Heitmann can handle Kaiser, having played EPT events with him across Europe and understanding how potent a player he can be. He'll also handle the superlative Somerville, who has featured among the leaders since the Main Event began. Right now however, Heitmann has fatigue to contend with and he looks back at the clock every so often to see how much longer he has to endure.

Just 355 players remain, with one more level left to play.