Some will tell you that Dortmund is the seventh largest city in Germany and that it’s one of the country’s most hi-tech. Others will tell you that Dortmund was for generations a centre for coal mining yet remains one of the greenest cities in Europe. Others will tell you of Dortmund’s three 13th century moated castles and of the Reinoldikirche, an eight century church with a gothic tower standing over 100 meters tall. But some, like me, will tell you that the Casino Hohensyburg, in the leafy outer suburbs of the Ruhr Valley will this week play host to a mighty battle of champions – from poker and beyond – as the European Poker Tour comes to town.
Here for the second year, the EPT Dortmund’s champagne-across-the-bow moment came last year when Norwegian Andreas Hoivold won the inaugural title ahead of a final table he ultimately dominated. His reward stood at over $880,000 – a figure that could well be topped this week. A seat here comes after the exchange of 8,000 crisp Euro notes and over 400 applicants for the position of champion have made their way here.
But to reach that mountain top position you must first start in the foothills, or day 1a as it’s also known. The moated Casino Hohensyburg stands amidst forest overlooking the Hengsteysee reservoir on the Ruhr river and alongside the quaint gingerbread village of Syburg. It’s the type of place you imagine is easy to get snowed into, where you’d need huskies to go fetch help, but with a 25 table poker room and adequate bar facilities you wouldn’t really mind.
Finding a route through day 1a will be Team PokerStars Pros Dario Minieri and Katja Thater who happen to be seated on the same table, as well as PokerStars sponsored players Sebastian Ruthenberg. EPT Baden winner Julian Thew is also here, fresh from his GUKPT win last week.
Table 7 stands out featuring as it does EPT winners and runners-up and WSOP bracelet winners and runners-up. Rob Hollink (EPT Grand Final winner season one), Juha Lauttamus (4th at EPT Prague), Juha Helppi (WPT winner and WSOP runner-up), Gino Alacqua (EPT Prague runner-up) and Alex Kravchenko (WSOP bracelet winner) will all spend a good part of the afternoon together. In between them are three PokerStars qualifiers getting an early test of mettel.
We start in the usual fashion – 25/50 blinds and an hour clock. Eight levels which should take us into the early hours – about to get underway.
Photo (c) Neil Stoddart