25 year old Alexander Jung has become the first German to win the Party Poker Million, after beating off the competition from 171 entrants to take down the $358,280 first prize. The Mathematics student from Berlin beat fellow German Dominik Stopka heads-up to take the prestigious title on board the MSC Poesia, a luxury cruise liner that left Venice on the 3rd May and returned on the 10th. He joins a prestigious list of previous Party Poker Million winners that includes Kathy Liebert, Howard Lederer, Erick Lindgren, Michael Gracz and Mike Schneider.
Alexander Jung has experienced success on the World Poker Tour and at the World Series of Poker, but his Party Poker Million VI triumph is the biggest win of his career to date. He commented after his victory "This is my biggest live win so far. The structure of the tournament was perfect for me, and there were some very good players here. I had a lot of respect for Dominik. I had seen him play a great many hands, mostly without a showdown and when he did have to show it was often something like aces, so he is a good player. However, I felt one or two others were a bit tight on the final table, perhaps wanting to try and climb the money positions".
Jung, who credits strategy books and his mathematical education with improving his game, intends to use his winnings as a bankroll. He was so focused on his poker that he only managed to leave the liner once on the one week luxury cruise and was amongst a strong group of German online qualifiers who made up 20% of the main event field. It was a week when German speakers really dominated, with Johannes Strassmann a big chip leader in the early stages and eventual runner-up Dominik Stopka the chip leader going into the final table. Also on board the liner were the likes of Florian Langmann and inaugural Party Poker German Open champion Sebastian Ruthenberg, both of whom have had significant success on the circuit in recent times.
Going into the heads-up Jung was in the driving seat, holding 1.1 million in chips to Stopka's 610,000. After taking a number of pots uncontested, Jung eventually moved all-in with J-7 against Stopka's A-9. The board came 3-Q-7-5-6, the seven being enough to win the event.
38-year-old Stopka, from Munster, Germany was also very pleased with his performance and, like Jung, this was the biggest win of his career. "I once won $72,000 in an online tournament, but this is by far my biggest result" he said.
A Party Poker spokesman said "Alexander Jung was the deserving winner in a week where German players truly dominated the tournament. The heads-up was a clash of two different kinds of player. In Jung you had the mathematical online whiz kid and with Stopka, the experienced and respected professional who has fine tuned their game over the years. Everybody on board had a great time - it is just that the German players departed a great deal richer!"
Blinds started at 3,000-6,000 with a 1,000 running ante, leaving plenty of play for the chip leaders on a final table of nine. First out after just two hands was Denmark's Kenneth Gregersen, who pushed in early position with A-9 for his remaining 42,000 chips. It was folded around to Cory Albertson with 9-9. Gregersen needed an ace to stay alive but the board of K-J-6-2-8 was no help. Next to go was Austrian Peter Steinlesberger, who moved all in for his last 24,000 chips with A-10. He was ahead of Mika Paasonen's A-8 of diamonds, but the flop of 9-7-K was all diamonds, giving Paasonen the nut flush. Out in seventh was Johannes Strassmann, who had been chip leader for much of the tournament. Strassmann, from Bonn, was much fancied to go all the way and his story is remarkable in that he has only ever had to deposit $5 in his online account! He was busted when his 3-3 all in bet was called by Raymond Estall holding A-6 clubs. The flop came 2-6-4 sending the Englishman ahead but giving the German a gutshot chance. The turn was another 6 and the river a 9, sending Strassmann to the rail.
At this point the two chip leaders remained the same as at the start of the final table with Jung and Stopka dominating proceedings. Andreas Jorbeck from Stockholm went out in sixth place. After a succession of pushes without being called, he went all in again with 9-9 and found himself up against Cory Albertson's K-Q. The flop came K-4-Q, meaning the Swede needed a 9 to stay alive, but the turn and river came down 7-8. Jorbeck's final table at the Party Poker Million VI adds to his 2008 Late Night Poker title. Jorbeck qualified for Late Night Poker online and conquered a final table that included 2008 Premier League winner Andy Black and runner-up Roland de Wolfe.
Out in fifth was Raymond Estall, from Solihull in the UK, who busted when his K-Q ran into Alexander Jung's A-2. With no help on the board, the Englishman, who works for a chemical distribution company, picked up $92,883.This was his first live event. He said "It has been great fun. But I don't think it will be the start of a new poker career. I'll be back at work on Monday with a great story to tell!"
Out in fourth was Finland's Mika Paasonen. On a board of 2-Q-2-9-3 with three hearts, he pushed with Q-8 but was instantly called by Alexander Jung with the A-7 hearts for the nut flush. Paasonen, a familiar face on the European circuit, picked up $119,425. Next to go was Texan Cory Albertson, who started the final short of chips but played a blinder to win $159,235. He pushed all in with A-3 clubs against Jung's A-J. The flop of 4-2-8 gave him hopes of making a straight, but the following Q and 4 ended his tournament. Albertson was the only non-European on the final table and picked up the biggest win of his career. This left Stopka and eventual winner Jung to fight it out heads-up.
30 countries were represented in the main event, with a line-up that represented a United Nations of next generation poker talent. Online qualifiers won a Party Poker Million VI package worth $12,000, comprising $8,200 buy-in for the No Limit Texas Hold'em main event, $2,700 for the accommodation and the cruise and $1,100 spending money. Amongst those who failed to make the final table include Canada's history-making Mike McDonald, Brazil's Christian Kruel, Danish sensation Soeren Kongsgaard, Christoph Haller, Alan Smurfit and JJ Liu.
Previous winners of the Party Poker Million include Kathy Liebert, Howard Lederer, Erick Lindgren, Michael Gracz and Mike Schneider. The first Party Poker Million was a huge breakthrough for poker, being the first hold'em tournament to offer a $1,000,000 first prize, the first tournament to combine direct buy-ins with online qualifiers and the first to hold its finals on a cruise liner. The result was momentous too, with Kathy Liebert's victory marking the first major tournament win by a woman.
With the shift to the European route, the tournament was changed to no limit from limit, but the look and feel of the cruise was the same. Mike Sexton was host and MC, with leading tournament directors Matt Savage and Dave Lamb overseeing proceedings. The Card Player Cruises team that included Linda Johnson, Mark Tenner, Jan Fisher and Rita Axel were on board maintaining a lively and successful card room.