I haven’t been playing too much to start the year, other than at the PCA where I enjoyed serving as the captain of the German team for the World Cup of Poker. That’s always a cool event with a fun atmosphere. Now I’m playing in some events in Germany and the Czech Republic during these first few months of the year as I begin work to try to match what was a good 2012 for me.

Last year’s highlight, of course, was a deep run in the World Series of Poker Main Event where I finished 26th. What an experience that was!

Thinking back to those long days in July at the Rio, I was pretty much chipping up every day during the Main Event. I do remember making one hero call on Day 3 versus Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger where I called with a pair of threes in a three-bet pot, then called him down for pretty much all my stack and he had a pair of kings. That knocked me down to about 10 big blinds, then I got it in with 10-9 suited against LuckyChewy and he had kings again, but I managed to win that hand and survive.

From there, though, I was adding to my stack each day, some days ending near the top of the counts and some around the middle. One thing that was surprising to me was just how hard it was physically to play poker for that long. Day after day after day, doing nothing but sleeping, eating a little, and playing poker from noon to 1 or 2 in the morning — it really takes a lot of stamina. By the time I busted on that very last day of the summer, I realized how physically fatigued I really was.

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Not only are the days long, when you’re done you still have so much work to do. You think over so many hands from the previous day, then maybe do a little research of players at your table for the next day. Then you have to get to try to settle down and sleep somehow and before you know it you’re back at the tables.

It didn’t really hit me until Day 7 (the last day of the summer) how exhausting the experience was. Up until then I was having fun, just grinding and playing very good poker. I was concentrating well and staying focused, so the time passed quickly and I didn’t really think too much about fatigue. The fact that I kept chipping up helped, too, because that let me remain active and not have to fold for long stretches, so I was chatting a lot and really enjoyed myself.

Then on that last day it really hit me. I suppose the realization that there were just 27 of us left and there was now a chance I might make the final table entered into things, too. But alas, before I could get too worked up about it all I was out the door in 26th.

There were three of us Germans there that last day, with Nicco Maag going out in 27th and Wilfried Harig in 15th. I suppose near the end we were all starting to think a little bit about our fellow countryman Pius Heinz winning the Main Event in 2011, although it really wasn’t until afterwards that I thought about how great it would have been to win and get a chance to serve as an ambassador of sorts for poker.

I’m already a Team PokerStars Pro, and I’m already pretty well known in the German poker community. But I’m also known outside of poker because I do some TV commentary and some celebrity coaching for a celebrity poker show. So even just making the final table last year would have been an opportunity for me to help spread the word about poker in Germany, and of course winning would have been even better.

I’ve busted many poker tournaments in my life and usually after an hour or two it’s forgotten. That’s part of the job, and you tend to get used to that.

But busting the Main Event on Day 7 was really tough, both personally and when I thought about the opportunity I might have had to be that ambassador for poker in Germany. I really enjoy talking about the game and getting poker out there and represented in a good way, so I would have loved to have done the media circuit and done some talk shows and everything else that might have gone along with winning.

I will say, however, that making that deep run in the Main Event has helped me in a lot of ways, too. Making deep runs like that allows you to learn so much, letting you experience all sorts of different situations that help you going forward. And the Main Event with its uniquely deep structure means you encounter just about every situation and dynamic you can possibly be exposed to along the way, so that has helped me a lot ever since.

For now, I’m looking forward to these events in Europe. And with the WSOP schedule now out, I’m starting to think about the Main Event this summer, too, where I hope to make another deep run. (Maybe even deeper this time!)

Jan Heitmann is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

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