WSOP 2015: English only at the Twitter, please
All I know about the German language I learned from the Beatles, National Lampoon's European Vacation, and Hogan's Heroes. This is no fault of the Germans. I'm just a pretty bad student and seek instruction in non-traditional venues. My failures have routinely drawn furrowed brows when I announce "My family and I are looking for sex," and even this has not dissuaded me from efforts to use popular culture as my own personal Rosetta Stone.
If I were to be swayed at all, it would be because of my deep affection for the German members of Team PokerStars Pro, Jen Heitmann and George Danzer. Defying all stereotypes propagated by pop culture, Heitmann and Danzer are two of the warmest, friendliest, most genuine people I've met in poker. This makes it a crying shame that I have no damned idea what they are saying some of the time.
To be clear, both men speak better English than most people I grew up with, but that doesn't mean they don't often take the opportunity to speak in their native tongue. That's how I ended up staring intently at this recent tweet from Heitmann. It came at the first break of Day 2A/B of the WSOP Main Event.
Zum ersten Break ein bisschen aufgebaut. 78k oder so. Tisch ist gut, habe Position auf den Bigstack und ihn schon herogecallt. #hero— Jan Heitmann (@JanHeitmann) July 8, 2015
I looked at it like I would one those 1980s shape-shifting posters they had in the shopping malls, trying to un-focus my eyes just well enough to read between the lines. It helps that poker is a bit of a universal language. With just enough staring, I was able to divine he'd made the break with 78,000 or so, that it's a good thing, and that he has position on the big stack.
It felt like enough of an update, and I was going to let it go. Still, as I started at the word herogecallt, I knew there was something in the context I was missing. Yes, I see the words hero and call, but the "ge" in the middle threw me way off.
Wait...herogecallt? How is it pronounced? Is the big stack the hero? Is Heitmann the hero? Has anyone sex-bet pre-flop yet? Twitter offers a translation service, but it wasn't much help.
This is an easily-solved problem. From where I sit in the WSOP Media Room, it would take me no more than two minutes to walk into the Brasilia Room, and find Heitmann. I know exactly where he is sitting, and he would no doubt give me the whole story.
But, as a smart man once said to me, "this is why we have computers." Google, despite (or perhaps because of) its ruthless and rabid collection of personal data, is pretty good at sussing thing kind of thing out. It was able to offer me this.
By and by, I did, in fact, wander over to Brasilia to check in on both Danzer and Heitmann, and I can confirm both men still have stacks, Heitmann does have position on the big stack at his table, and if anyone is a hero at that table, it's the German.
This ten-year worldwide poker explosion has been an enlightening experience for me. I have so many language barriers, you could use them to fence off a federal disaster area. I'm getting better, though. This is better than previous years. Our Swedish blogger, through no fault of her own, once had me believing her translation for "Day 6 of the WSOP" was "Dog Sex of the WSOP."
With that settled, I need to refocus my attention on some of the other Team Pros. But first I need to watch some Miami Vice to make sure Jason Mercier and I are speaking the same language.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.