In a glimpse of what organised national poker looks like the German Poker Federation (the DPSB) staged its fourth National Heads-Up Team Championship in Hannover last weekend, bringing together qualifying teams from across the country to compete head to head for title of German champion.

Riverkings_Hof_winner_team (2)Poker in Germany has surged in the past decade, with Stud giving way to hold’em, and the internet bringing poker to millions of players. Last November Pious Heinz became the first German player to win the World Series of Poker and Team Germany took down the inaugural IFP Nations Cup in London. Events like the Heads-Up National Championship introduce more players to the international fold.Heads up poker is one of the toughest poker disciplines, with literally nowhere for a player to hide. Every hand pits you against your opponent; you can’t rely on another player at your table to do the hard work. It means the best heads-up players are focused, patient and ruthlessly aggressive.

This is doubly important in a team context, which adds another layer of potential complication; where each decision is taken in full view of your team mates, whose result depends on your actions as much as theirs. As witnessed at last year’s Nations Cup, it adds a new and complicated dimension to the game that is not easy to master.

Organised by the AllIn Hannover poker club, the competition featured 12 teams for four competing over two days. Four heads-up matches were played simultaneously between teams, for three rounds, with increased points for each win. If there’s no team winner after three heads-up rounds a decider is played, with a team requiring 41 points to win.

The tense round robin group stages were not for the faint of heart, starting at 10am (not usually an hour suited to poker players), playing through to the 3am finish (that’s more like it). The four group winners then progressed to the semi-finals on Sunday.

The standout team in the group stages was Riverkings Hof, winning both of their group matches to advance to the semi-finals, where they beat THC Mönchengladbach by a score of 58 to 23. In the other tie 89 suited München defeated Entertainment Poker Hürth, 42 points to 20.

It made for an all-Bavaria final, with both teams having competing in each of the three prior national finals. But showing the same form in the later stages as they had in their group there could only be one winner; Riverkings Hof, from a town of only 50,000 inhabitants, clear winners, 54 points to 27. In the third place playoff THC Mönchengladbach got the better of Entertainment Poker Hürth, 41 points to 21.

Congratulations to Riverkings Hof on a great victory. Here at IFP we are already looking forward to next year.