Two years ago at the Victoria Casino in London, Vicky Coren triumphed on home soil to become the first woman to win an EPT main event. Coren remained alone until about an hour ago at Hohensyburg Casino, Dortmund, when Sandra Naujoks, a PokerStars.de ShootingStar, joined her in the exclusive club, winning €917,000 and the latest EPT championship.
Naujoks, 27, took the lot after a tense heads up finale against countryman Holger Kanisch. An all-in with aces over jacks gave Naujoks the momentum and despite a battling comeback from Kanisch, Naujoks never looked like letting go.
With their chips in the middle pre-flop for the last time, and the stacks close to even, Kanisch was ahead, A-Q over Naujoks’ A-9. An ace landed on the flop changing nothing but the crucial nine hit the turn making Naujoks the champion.
A modest Naujoks seemed awkward winning thanks to a well-timed dash of luck, but Kanisch, who had also played the tournament of his life, picking up €533,000, was as gracious in defeat as Naujoks was humble in victory. She lifted the winner’s trophy to rapturous applause.
“It was sick. I don’t really know what I feel,” she told the EPT host Kara Scott moments after the last hand. “I’m exhausted.” She added later: “I can’t believe it. It’s such a great feeling to win my home EPT.”
It’s been a week to remember for the Germans and the final table here did nothing but live up to local expectation. Marc Gork finished third, completing a German one-two-three and giving the home-town railbirds something to cheer about in what has been the largest EPT event of the year outside of the PCA.
It had been a final table loaded with possibility. The Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson fell short of a first title on his third final table. He finished in seventh place for €116,500. Luca Pagano made a record-breaking tenth cash en route to the final but also came up short, finishing in an exhausted sixth place for €153,000.
As well as Johan Storakers, an EPT veteran who recorded his best finish, collecting €237,000 for fourth place, there was also the matter of a certain Mike McDonald.
The 19-year-old, who famously became the youngest ever EPT winner in this very room 12 months ago, spent periods this afternoon dominating the table, a succession of all-in moves refilling the tanks after a coin-flip went awry against Kanisch, costing him his earlier momentum.
But hope for an historic second title was quashed by Naujoks who came alive after the dinner break and jumped into the lead. While McDonald exited in fifth place for €197,000, she survived a few knocks and eliminated Gork to go heads up.
Gork was the oddball of the final, even more so than Cengizcan Ulusu from Turkey, whose exit in eighth place followed a dramatic coin flip (we’re talking literally here) that convinced him to call Mike McDonald’s pocket kings with his own K-2, with statistically obvious consequences that will be talked about for years.
A self-confessed amateur, Gork, a literature student, read poetry for much of the final, ignoring the others in a bid to maintain his own concentration. It worked, albeit to the confusion of those on the rail, securing him third place and €307,000 to spend on whatever a student might need.
Tribute to the popularity of the game in Germany more than a third of the field called this their home EPT with German players picking up more than €2.1million of the €3.3 million prize pool. Sebastian Ruthenberg in Barcelona, Moritz Kranich in Deauville and now Sandra Naujoks, not to mention German winners of past seasons Thang Duc Nguyen and Michael Schultze, have proven that German poker is here to stay.
The result of the EPT Dortmund final table:
1st – Sandra Naujoks, Germany, ShootingStar, €917,000
2nd – Holger Kanisch, Germany, €533,000
3rd – Marc Gork, Germany, €307,000
4th – Johan Storakers, Sweden, €237,000
5th – Mike McDonald, Canada, €197,000
6th – Luca Pagano, Italy, Team PokerStars Pro, €153,000
7th – William Thorson, Sweden, Team PokerStars Pro, €116,500
8th – Cengizcan Ulusu, Turkey, €83,500
For a detailed look at how it got this way click on the links below:
Trying to imagine how the Germans feel? Count the exclamation marks on the German blog, or the tear drops of the Swedes. The Dutch stopped crying days ago, but their version of today’s events can be found on the Dutch blog in all its glory.
As ever, today’s photos were provided by the keen eye and expensive looking equipment of Neil Stoddart. You can also look back on any or all of the week’s video blogs, as well as the extensive EPT archive, at PokerStars.tv.
All that’s left is for us to say congratulations to Sandra Naujoks on what is unlikely to be her last tournament victory.
“The ShootingStars are a great team. We have so many good tournament players. My bet is that together we will win two bracelets at the World Series and I hope I win one.”
She also said this:
Them’s fighting words.
Next stop San Remo for what could prove an even bigger EPT jamboree, with a beach. See you there.