The EPT this season has belonged to the Germans – or, to be slightly broader, the German-speaking countries. After Sebastian Ruthenberg won in Barcelona in the curtain raiser, Moritz Kranich took down EPT Deauville and Sandra Naujoks led a German 1-2-3 on home turf in Dortmund.
Benny Spindler deserves notable mention for his third place at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Nico Behling was second in Warsaw, and Nasr El Nasr has flashed on our screens on numerous occasions, a cash in Dortmund following a final table appearance in Prague.
Part of their success owes much to the sense of community among the German players. Spindler, Behling and Florian Langmann, for example, frequently travel together to these events and are known to have intense poker discussions, exchanging strategy tips and hand histories, helping each other hone their game to become formidable tournament forces.
Furthermore, the PokerStars.de ShootingStars team has been a revelation: the tournament pros Jan Heitmann, Johannes Strassman, Ben Kang, George Danzer and Ruthenberg have been joined this season by Langmann and Naujoks. Meanwhile the Swiss player Anton Allemann, who is primarily a high stakes cash game player, also has an EPT final table under his belt. And here in Monte Carlo, another ShootingStar, the Austrian player Johannes Steindl, is shining. Steindl raced up to about 120,000 at one point this afternoon, and still has something like 80,000, even after taking a couple of hits.
Strassman, meanwhile, has more than 100,000; Danzer, Langmann and Naujoks are between 60,000-70,000; Allemann has 53,000, Ruthenberg 52,000 and Kang about 20,000.
All the more reason, then, to pity Heitmann, who has not only busted from the tournament after a miserable afternoon, but doesn’t even have any mates to hang around with. All those other stars are continuing in the ascendant, along with the former tennis player Boris Becker, whose transformation into poker star is looking increasingly convincing. Becker has about 50,000 too.