Sandra Naujoks Nixes Naysayers to Win EPT Dortmund

Sandra Naujoks
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By Jennifer Newell Germany is one of the growing hotspots for poker in the world, and the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour stop in Dortmund proved just that when a massive field of 664 players came to the Casino Hohensyburg on March 10. The German Open was ready to begin, and the EPT was there to host and capture all of the action. It began with Day 1A and a plethora of poker pros at the tables, such as Soren Kongsgaard, Barny Boatman, Alexander Kravchenko, Ivan Demidov, William Thorson, Casey Kastle, Arnaud Mattern, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Rolf Slotboom, and Michael Turenic. The 306 players dwindled to only about 115 by the end of the day, and Thorson sat atop the leaderboard with 84,500 when it was said and done. Robert Zipf and Jan Collado-Fernandez followed in chip counts. The second starting day was when the total field became clear. The 358 players who came out on Day 1B put the overall number at 664, which was more than a 50 percent increase from the 2008 EPT Dortmund. And with a prize pool well over €3 million, an exciting tournament got even more interesting. Among those competing for that cash were Max Pescatori, Luca Pagano, Dario Minieri, Katja Thater, Marcel Luske, Bertrand Grospellier, Noah Boeken, Peter Eastgate, Clonie Gowen, and reigning champion Mike McDonald. When it was done for the day, though, only 137 players survived, and Marco Noll had climbed to 104,700 in chips to take the overall lead. He was followed by Peter Bueermann and Mike McDonald in the counts. The number of players starting Day 2 was 252, and it was destined to be a long day as they played for the money. Eight hours into the day, hand-for-hand play began, and it was Toby Newton finally at risk for his last 11,300 chips. Claudio Cecchi called with A-4, and Newton showed pocket sixes, but the board brought an ace on the flop to knock Newton out of the tournament on the money bubble. Subsequently, Matle Strothmann took 64th place and the €6,600 cash that went with it, and the day played on until Mauro Piacentino was eliminated in 35th place to end action for the day. Holger Kanisch sat in the chip lead with 526,500, while Marc Gork, Sandra Naujoks, Steve Jelinek, and Mike McDonald rounded out the top five. The 34 players who returned on Day 3 would play to the final eight, and action began with Riccardo Mazzitelli hitting the rail in 34th place. Finally, with the elimination of Waldemar Kopyl in tenth place, the last nine players were seated at one table, and there they stayed for about an hour. It wasn’t until Florian Langmann pushed all-in for 170K with 4d 3d that it was over. Luca Pagano called with ac 9s, and the board ran out qd 9h 4h 6h with an ace on the river for good measure. Langmann was ousted in ninth place on the final table bubble but received €50,0000 for it. The final table was then set for the next day as follows: Seat 1: Holger Kanisch 661,000 Seat 2: William Thorson 829,000 Seat 3: Cengizcan Ulusu 537,000 Seat 4: Johan Storakers 1,615,000 Seat 5: Mike McDonald 746,000 Seat 6: Sandra Naujoks 586,000 Seat 7: Luca Pagano 1,115,000 Seat 8: Mark Gork 540,000 McDonald’s hopes of becoming the first player on the EPT circuit to win a tournament two years running were grim as he lost chips from the start, though he was able to double through Ulusu to stay alive. Ulusu literally flipped a coin to play the hand with kd 2d against McDonald, and McDonald stood up with pocket kings and doubled. That led to Ulusu being crippled and pushing all-in on the next hand with jh 9h. Gork was right there with pocket jacks, which trumped Storakers’ pocket sixes. The cards came js qs 3s 4d 2d, and Gork took the pot, sending Cengizcan Ulusu out in eighth place with €83,500. Next on the chopping block was Thorson, who was unable to gain much momentum at the table, especially after Kanisch doubled through him. Thorson put the rest of his chips on the line with 9h 8s, but it was Storakers holding kc jd who made the call. The board came 7c 9s tc ks 4s, and Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson was gone in seventh place with €116,500. Fellow PokerStars team member Pagano had problems making anything happen at the final table as well, though he wasn’t afraid to make moves. However, when he pushed all-in with pocket sevens and found Gork as the caller with A-9, it was a race that ended in a ts kd 4s flop and 9h turn. The river was a blank that sent Luca Pagano out in sixth place with €153,000 in prize money. McDonald had previously doubled to stay alive and attempted it again with only 500K in chips. Naujoks reraised all-in to push original raiser Kanisch out, which worked. Naujoks then showed pocket tens to the kd jh of McDonald. Another race began but ended soon after when the tens held up. Mike McDonald was unable to repeat his championship and left in fifth place, which was worth €197,000. From chip leader only a short time before, Storakers felt the need to move all-in and did so with A-Q. Naujoks was again there for the call with A-K. When no queen came on any street, the most recent addition to the Full Tilt Poker pro team, Johan Storakers, was eliminated in fourth place with €237,000 for the showing. Three Germans remained, but it was Naujoks and Gork who tangled several times. Gork doubled through her, but Naujoks came back to double through Gork. The hand to decide Gork’s future did not involve his nemesis, though. It was Kanisch who started the hand, but Gork flipped a coin and thus decided to push all-in for about 900K with kd th. Naujoks folded out of the hand, but Kanisch called with pocket sevens, and the board ran out 2c qd 5c jd 5h to end Marc Gork’s run with a third place finish and €307,000 for it. Heads-up action then started as follows: Holger Kanisch 3,666,000 Sandra Naujoks 2,980,000 Action began with Naujoks playing cautiously but aggressively, and finally doubling through Kanisch with pocket aces. That put her over the 5 million-chip mark, and Kanisch then went into cautious play mode. He was able to double once, but Naujoks still held the lead with more than 4 million chips. After more than an hour, the following hand finally decided the match. Naujoks raised, and Kanisch pushed it up to 1 million. Naujoks responded with an all-in move holding as 9c, and Kanisch called with a dominating ac qh. The board came ah 7h 2d 9s 8d, and Naujoks made her winning pair on the turn. Holger Kanisch was eliminated in second place, which was worth €533,000. First place was taken by Sandra Naujoks, who became the second woman to ever win an EPT tournament. For that, she will forever have a place in the poker history books, and she will also have the €917,000 in prize money to memorialize the event. (Thanks to PokerStars Blog for detailed tournament information.)