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.


23-4-12 - Charles Lamb


Casino Square

Casino Square in Monaco

The main event of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final begins in Monaco today. It’s the flagship final event of the tour’s eighth season, staged in the Salle d’Etoiles at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel which features a retractable roof which, for a few minutes each day, reveals the Mediterranean blue sky, bright sunshine and horizon of one of the world’s most exclusive, not to mention expensive, coastlines.

The tour is returning to Monaco after a one year hiatus in Madrid in Season 7. There’s certainly something about Monaco that makes it a draw for poker players; it’s ludicrous wealth, stark prices and glorious weather, not to mention the history attached to the place; that of Princess Grace, the Grand Prix, and the ships, described as luxury yachts, moored in the iconic harbour.

The place suits opulence and the celebration of, well anything, which lends credence to the idea of Monaco being European poker’s spiritual home, and the ideal venue for the continent’s biggest live poker event.

Or is it?

Perhaps Monaco is too exclusive, what with astronomical rents and preference for baccarat in Casino square rather than Mind Sport. Is London’s Victoria Casino poker’s real home or maybe even Cannes, along the coast, home to the World Series of Poker Europe?

Who really knows?

Regardless, events in Monaco usually end memorably, as this week’s events should demonstrate. We’ll leave you to decide which destination you would call poker’s spiritual home.


Roberto Romanello Eptcampione 2apr12 Small

Roberto Romanello

 Being a successful poker player is not just about taking your seat and playing well in a tournament. It’s also out preparation.

Like athletes in any sport, the best poker players put the time between events to best use, with the aim of maximising their performance. For some this can mean keeping healthy so you start in the best possible shape mentally and physically. For others it’s simply a matter of staying focused, keeping mistakes and distractions to a minimum.

Two players exemplified that mentality on the European Poker Tour in Campione this week.

Patrik Antonius had his first taste of poker success in 2005, winning EPT Baden. A former tennis player, Antonius, from Finland, quickly displayed a unique will to succeed, first mastering hold’em and then studying other variations of the game with help of other pros, in order to broaden his skill base.

The result has been a record almost unrivalled in poker, of big wins in tournaments and a career built on high stakes cash games in Las Vegas. Those playing against Antonius they know they’re up against one of the most talented and best prepared players in the game.

Roberto Romanello may have more humble origins, coming from Swansea in South Wales, but the Welshman is another pro who demonstrates a knack for making every advantage for himself.

Ironically the former EPT winner has cashed only once in EPT main events this season, but he has cashed 11 times in side events, winning two and coming second in another. It’s a performance that puts him second in the Player of the Year rankings with two events left to play.

Romanello’s approach is simple, relying on complete focus for the week long trips, during which he has been known to turn his back on nights out to maintain his intense focus that has resulted in him reaching back to back finals in three separate festivals this season.

Combined with extraordinary talent, Antonius and Romanello are also humble. Both share another thing in common, a life beyond the walls of the tournament room. Antonius has two young children and rarely travels far away from his family. Romanello helps run the family business back in Swansea where a large extended family provide him with support while keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

Poker is not always predictable and can sometimes turn to bite you. It’s how you cope with that, and how you conquer it, that separates the good players from the truly great.


Irish Flag SmallDublin is the centre of the poker world this week as the Irish Poker Open gets underway at the Burlington Hotel in the Irish capital, one of the premier events on the European Poker Calendar.

There is something about Ireland that links it to poker’s history, an unswerving appeal that ensures this week’s field of hundreds will boast players from Ireland, the UK, Europe, North America and beyond.

Various books about poker have elegantly linked Ireland to our great game, with Irish players being among the first foreign raiders to take on the home town Las Vegas crowd at the World Series of Poker, and in 1999 Noel Furlong became the first of them to win the main event.

Now, despite poker initially turning its back on Ireland with an absence of European Poker Tour events, the country remains a hotbed for poker talent with two legs of the United Kingdom and Ireland Poker Tour practically sold out each year, and the WPT in Dublin later this year.

All of whom will likely be taking part in the Irish Open this week, competing for a share of the prize pool which last year was worth nearly €2,000,000 for an event broadcast live on television and won by Niall Smyth.

Check back to the IFP news section for results of the event after the final table on Monday.