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Black Mamba deadly in Dortmund
EPT Dortmund may have opened with a bevy of beautiful showgirls, but by the end of the show just one girl remained - Sandra "The Black Mamba" Naujoks.
"I can't believe what happened!" Naujoks told PokerListings. "In my home EPT, first season ever - to win the tournament - it feels great!"
Naujoks took down the title to become only the second female winner of an EPT, behind Vicky Coren, in what was a dramatic, hotly contested final table.
At the outset, all eyes were firmly fixed on Canadian Mike "Timex" McDonald, the young man bidding to collect his second consecutive EPT Dortmund title and become the first man in history to win two EPTs.
For some time, it looked as though McDonald was set to do just that.
An early double-up helped his cause. His pocket kings were paid off handsomely by Turkish player Cengizcan Ulusu, whose "unconventional" play with king-deuce suited left many observers baffled.
It was no surprise when Ulusu exited shortly afterward in eighth spot. Next to fall was Swede William Thorson in seventh, following some cruel twists of fate that saw him lose a crucial pot against Holger Kanisch's inferior hand.
Thorson has had many final-table appearances on the EPT tour, but has always fallen short. As he was interviewed following his latest near miss, he glumly admitted, "I'm very disappointed. It feels bad to be on the wrong side of luck all the time."
Italian Luca Pagano succumbed next, a key coin flip scuppering his chances as he joined the rail in sixth spot, locking up his 10th EPT cash in the process.
Meanwhile, Timex had been experiencing some chip fluctuations, but as the dinner break approached he looked to be adjusting best to the growing blinds.
His aggression and stack size were increasing steadily by the time the break arrived, though, and the Sandra Naujoks show began shortly thereafter.
The resumption of play saw Naujoks win a spate of crucial hands, and it was the German who ended Timex's run in the tournament, her pocket tens holding versus the Canadian teenager's king-jack.
Despite narrowly missing the opportunity to create another slice of history, Timex was upbeat about his performance. "I think I played well," he said afterward.
Naujoks claimed the chip lead with this pot, and she consolidated her strong position by knocking out Johan Storakers moments later, his ace-queen no match for a dominant big slick.
Storakers' elimination left three Germans vying for the title, ensuring we would have a homegrown champion.
Marc Gork proved an interesting character at the final table, alternating between eating large quantities of fruit and reading poetry in between playing hands.
But not even a combination of grapes and fine literature could prevent his elimination, as Holgard Kanisch busted him in third, leaving Kanisch and Naujoks head-to-head for the title.
The heads-up game saw Naujoks take first blood, her aces besting the coolered Kanisch's jacks to give her the advantage.
The critical hand involved an element of fortune, with Naujoks getting her chips in behind with ace-nine versus ace-queen, but destiny smiled upon her as she made aces-up to knock out Kranisch and take the trophy and €917,000 in prize money.
That made Naujoks the third German champion this season. She was upbeat about the state of poker in Germany right now.
"We have so many fantastic tournament players. We have a strong game and I think we have a good chance [of success] at the WSOP."
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