Heiko Warnke, a 30-year-old from Berlin, became the fifth German player to win a Platinum Pass to the PokerStars Players NL Hold’en Championship (PSPC) 2020 in Barcelona after he won the final of PokerStars Germany’s “Chase Your Dream” promotion, held at EPT Prague.
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“In Barcelona I’m looking forward to the sun, finally vacationing on the beach again,” Warnke said. “But above all, I‘m happy to play against all the big sharks.”
Five poker players from Germany and one from Austria had won through to the grand final, after beating thousands of competitors in an online freeroll. It gave them a seat at the final table in Prague, with a Platinum Pass worth €26,000 on the line. The action was broadcast live on Twitch.
The familiar face of Marc Gork was among the last six. More than 10 years ago, Gork made the final table of EPT Dortmund, winning €307,000 for finishing third. Although live tournament poker has taken a back seat, he has still been active in the scene as a player, coach and and video producer.
Gork got off to a good start in the final, but ultimately, like the Austrian Paul Hofer, he fell victim to Dilip Tandon, who quickly opened up a dominating lead. With four left, Tandon held well over half of the chips in play.
Warnke then came to the fore and was responsible for the next elimination. He got it all in pre-flop with 9♣9♠ against Falk Frede’s A♦Q♠. Frede flopped well when the dealer put the 10♠7♣A♥ on the table, but Warnke hit a one-outer when the 9♥ came on the river — Tandon had folded the 9♦ before the flop.
Martin Barisch was the next to go, pushing his last eight big blinds from the button Q♥5♦, but ran into Tandon’s K♠K♦ and was eliminated in third place.
Tandon led heads-up with 203,800 to Warnke’s 96,200, and they got it all in on the very first hand. Warnke’s top pair stayed good against Tandon’s open-ender and Warnke doubled up, and into the lead.
Only a few hands later, a cooler ended it all.
Warnke raised to 30,000 with A♥K♦, Tandon pushed for 105,600 from the big blind with A♦Q♣. Warnke would have called without hesitation in an online freeroll, but here in Prague it was about the Platinum Pass and so it took a few seconds longer until the showdown.
Eventually he did call, however, and the last board fell 3♠J♠10♠7♦8♠, which was good for Warnke. He seemed stunned at the conclusion, an indication of the great tension that prevailed during the day. But after Felix Schneiders handed him the Pass, he was finally able to relax–and start planning for Barcelona next year.
“First of all I want to thank PokerStars and Felix Schneiders for the opportunity,” Warnke said. “I was really excited before the final started and now I’m even more exited, because there is a much bigger tournament coming up with the PSPC in Barcelona.“
He added: “The last one and a half months I have thought of this event every day. I watched videos, read a lot of poker content, gave my best and now I‘m very pleased that everything worked out. I have never played a tournament like the PSPC and if I were alone now I would probably cry.
“My current game is certainly not enough to achieve something in Barcelona, so I will look for someone who will give me private coaching and try to play a few live tournaments before then.”