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2012 WSOP Best Bets: Germany
Every year we like to think our vast global poker expertise helps us predict precisely which players are set to light the WSOP on fire.
Every year, of course, we miss wildy. Who can predict donkaments, really?
In keeping with our annual tradition, we asked our international editors to fill us in on players they think are on the cusp of WSOP glory.
By Dirk Oetzmann
There are always a lot of established German players at the WSOP and several even (we’re looking at you, Marvin Rettenmaier) might even be bookmakers’ favorites to win a bracelet.
But who are the up-and-coming German players on the verge of a big breakthrough in Las Vegas?
These are the young guns we think might follow-up on Pius Heinz’s massive success at last year’s World Series:
Martin Finger (21 years old)
Under his online name piggybank0, Finger has long established himself as a first-class, high-stakes heads-up SNG player.
Check his stats at $1k to $5k games or ask Olivier “Adonis123” Busquet about that.
Busquet, himself known as one of if not the best heads-up player online, has lately called Finger one of the best SNG players out there.
Now Finger has also won his first major live title: EPT Prague in December 2011.
You wouldn’t think it watching him play, but Finger has only been playing poker for three years.
He says he’s just been lucky enough to suffer from very few setbacks. Now thanks to his EPT title, he has the bankroll to travel and add even more results to his Hendon Mob page.
Now Finger has set his eyes on a WSOP bracelet and it looks like he has the punch to get there (Just ask Jonathan Duhamel if you don’t believe it).
Khiem Nguyen (25 years old)
Nguyen had quite a bit of poker experience – and cashes, for that matter – before the poker community really noticed him.
He had played in EPT and WSOP events, in Florianopolis in Brazil and in Macau, but it was his third place at the Master Classics in Amsterdam in November 2010 that raised the community’s attention.
It also raised €142k for his bankroll and today Nguyen has become a regular in a lot of major tournaments worldwide.
The cashes have seemed to come more regularly too.
His third-place finish at the Macau Millions in April 2011 was followed by a fourth place at the ANZPT Canberra. A third at the Poker European Championship 2011 in Baden/Austria was also booked
Now Nguyen, among others, is staked regularly by Martin Finger and they all look in pretty good shape financially after Finger won the €1k PLO side event at the EPT Grand Final at Monte Carlo.
Nguyen is an MTT specialist both live and online, so don’t look for him at the cash-game tables in Vegas.
But if has a seat in any tournament, it won't be a surprise if he wins it.
Dominik Nitsche (21 years old)
It was in April 2009 when an unknown, 18-year-old high school student from a small town in Northern Germany was suddenly crowned the winner of LAPT Mar del Plata for $384k.
Now, although few people in Germany knew what the LAPT was at the time, and fewer could locate Mar del Plata, everyone now knows what that $384k meant.
Who is this guy, people began to ask, and why does he have this problem with hairstylists?
Today, Nitsche is one of the big names in the German poker player community and his tournament winnings add up to more than $1.2 million.
Nitsche has played in Europe, Australia and South America, but in 2012 he'll make his debut in Las Vegas as he just turned 21 only weeks ago.
His idea is to play as many No-Limit Hold'em events as possible.
“Live poker”, he says, “means to burn $200,000 to then win $300,000. Maybe.”
Sound like a 21 year old to you?
Nitsche has moved to Southern England (Brighton) and has become good friends with pros like EPT Champ Rupert Elder, which can only serve to enhance his already impressive game.
Andre Klebanov (22)
Klebanov was originally born in Belarus but grew up in Eastern Germany.
He started playing poker early and was lucky enough to have friends who liked the game just as much as him, so they would play and talk poker all the time.
At EPT London in 2011, Klebanov made his first final table at a major international event. He came third, with only Benny Spindler and Steve O’Dwyer surpassing him.
The result meant his bankroll was now over $414,000, though, which was enough to start travelling and playing the tournaments he really wanted.
Klebanov moved to London and went on to start building those results including a 57th at EPT Prague plus final tables in three side events in Prague and Monaco.
He's proven he's not just lucky; now all he needs is a bit of it to make his biggest splash ever in Vegas.