There’s A New German Wunderkind Crushing At Aria

Written By Jessica Welman on September 21, 2017
Bavarian dauchsund and beer stein

[toc]A total of six players cashed in the final event of PokerGO’s Poker Masters at Aria Casino in Las Vegas, NV. It should surprise no one that four of the six were German.

The country’s high rollers continued to dominate the big buy-in tournament scene with a strong performance at the multi-event series. In fact, the winner of the entire series is another German pro the poker world will be keeping an eye on, Steffen Sontheimer. He cashed on four of the five events in the series, earning over $2.7 million in total for just a week of effort at the Nevada casino.

Poker Masters aims to be its golf counterpart

The concept for the tournament series clearly draws inspiration from The Masters tournament in the golf world. There were five tournaments over the course of a week or so. Players earned points based on their finish in each event. Then, at the end of the series, the player with the most points won a custom-designed purple blazer.

It is worth noting that four of the five events were $50,000 buy-ins, while the finale was a $100,000 buy-in event. The difference in buy-ins resulted in a points system that heavily favored the $100,000 winner taking the blazer.

While that may be the case, it did not matter that Sontheimer won the final tournament. After all, he did well in all five events, never finishing lower than eighth place. Thanks to the strength of his prelim performance, Sontheimer clinched the jacket once he got to heads-up play against fellow countryman Christian Christner.

Here is a look at Sontheimer’s results across the event:

  • Event 1 – 4th for $204,000
  • Event 2 – 1st for $900,000
  • Event 4 – 5th for $117,000
  • Event 5: 1st for $1,512,000

Poker Masters was a Super High Roller Bowl

With such high buy-ins, there is a finite number of players willing to take part in an event like Poker Masters. The biggest field of the five events was Event 2, which drew 52 players. The four prelim events averaged 47 players, while the finale drew 36 players in the $100,000 event.

The final was actually a rematch of another Aria event of 2017. Back in May Christner and Sontheimer got heads-up in the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl. However, last time the results were flipped, with Christner coming out on top.

If you are wondering where all these German kids came from, you probably do not follow the High Roller scene. This elite group of players does not really bother with “smaller” buy-in events. A glance at the results of both Christner and Sontheimer reveal the noteworthy scores are almost entirely in high buy-in tournaments.

Even as recently as five years ago, it was not exactly practical to exclusively play high roller poker tournaments. However, with the robust high roller schedule at Aria and the proliferation of high buy-in tournaments at the PokerStars tournaments in Europe, it is possibly to dive straight into the deepest end of the pool and never leave.

How does the Poker Masters champ rank as one of the best players in the game?

What is still up for debate is if the purple jacket is the definitive prize for the world’s best poker player. While most players agree these fields have no soft spots, there is one notable contrarian. Phil Hellmuth took to Twitter to suggest these players might be overrated. He pointed out that success in big-field tournaments and success in small-field high rollers require very different skills sets.

Even with his different opinion though, Hellmuth did manage to Tweet out congratulations to Sontheimer on a well-earned victory.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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