Some 400 players arrived in the Bahamas with Platinum Passes last week. Each had a dream to turn it into a life changing trip, and a small part of poker history.
Two came remarkably close. They were Max Menzel and Niclas Thumm. So close in fact that it’s hard not to consider their achievements as anything but two of the most remarkable stories to come from the two week festival.
Just a few days ago Max Menzel told the PokerStars Blog in an interview from the Bahamas: “I might be the most unknown player”.
Perhaps he was being overly bashful. After all, he was just one of more than 400 Platinum Pass winners, in a field of 1014 players, vying for a life changing return from the biggest poker tournament of its kind.
But one thing is certain, it’s impossible to say that now.
He might not have won first prize. But if you can’t finish first, the next best place is second. Which is exactly where Menzel did finish. A five-month long adventure culminating in a prize of $2,859,990.
It came a long time and a long way from where he started this journey. That was back at the Road to PSPC Manila event in September, the closest event to his current family home in Singapore.
If you’re curious that’s an 18-and-a-half hour journey to the Bahamas. Which was undoubtedly more comfortable on the journey back.
But even before that, Menzel had been struck by the experience and the atmosphere of the tournament itself.
“It’s been amazing,” said Menzel in the lead up to the final table. “When you have a deep run like I’m having, there’s this intensity that I enjoy.
“But I also like people to have a good time at my tables. We were chatting, ordering wine, and I had people singing… I just try to have fun. It hasn’t got under my skin, the amount of money we’re playing for.”
ODDS AGAINST HIM
Menzel’s day at the final table started with the odds against him.
He was fifth of sixth, with a stack of 5 million. That sounds a lot, but after days of play it added up to just 20 big blinds. Time was going to be short.
But sometimes poker is about more than just chips.
Menzel may not be a full time pro, but in the same interview he spoke about the importance of study away from the table as well as at it.
“I spend a lot of time studying poker, probably more than playing,” he tells us. “But poker is definitely just a hobby for me.”
But what he might have lacked in experience he made up for in table presence.
In fact, just the day before Menzel made some sensational laydowns, including one hand that stood out: folding Ace-Queen in the big blind against an all-in shove knowing it wasn’t the right time to get his money in.
The studying, and the effort, was paying off. And with a prize of $2,859,990 it’s hard to say that’s not a win, even if it doesn’t come with a trophy.
That went to Shylko, who sent Menzel out in second on the first hand of heads-up play.
The hand played out with Menzel checking his option in the big blind with J♣ 9♠ after Aliaksandr Shylko limped on the button with 10♥ 5♣ .
The flop came 8♣ 5♥ 5♦ and Menzel led out with a min-bet of 800,000.
Shylko called for the 10♠ turn card. Menzel bet again. 2,800,000 this time, which got a call from Shylko, and a Q♠ river card.
Menzel had made his straight. But Shylko had a full house. Menzel’s check was met with a bet from Shylko before Menzel shoved over the top for 12.3 million. The call was immediate.
Menzel had fallen short. But only where the scoreboard was concerned. In every other way he was the story of the tournament.
Congratulations to Max on his massive achievement at the PSPC.
The story of Niclas ‘Flushiisback’ Thumm, from Germany, ended in sixth place. But like we said, when you’re flying home with a prize of $1 million it’s hard to call that anything other than a win.
That was a point not lost on Thumm when he spoke to the PokerStars Blog earlier in the week.
“On the one hand, it’s life-changing money, even min-cashing,” he’d said.
And he was right. Dozens of players managed that. Turning a Platinum Pass, which earned them a seat in the tournament, into a minimum cash prize of $35,000.
But little did Thumm know at that time that he was about to become a millionaire. Actual life changing money, cashing for $1,001,200.
That’s more than 28 times that min-cash he was aiming for.
Thumm won his Platinum Pass through the Dare2Stream competition, which was an amazing story on its own.
Thumm didn’t actually win the competition to earn a Platinum Pass. But his attitude throughout, supporting fellow player and is relentless positivity, didn’t go unnoticed. Based on that PokerStars awarded him a pass.
Given that was back in June he figured he had some studying to do.
So he set about learning as much as he could about the tournament. Everything from the structure, the likely field size, and ICM. The Twitch community that had come to know him over the months prior, supported him all the way from the rail.
That story ended in sixth place
Thumm started the final day in sixth, with 1.8 million chips. That amounted to just seven big blinds, leaving him with work to do from the very start of play.
Maybe work is the wrong word. After all, by this point he’d locked up $1 million. This wasn’t his usual $10 tournament on twitch. Neither was it his day job as an accountant.
Things started well.
After a double up on the very first hand against Max Menzel (A♠ K♣ vs A♣ 3♥ ), Thumm then won another hand against Philipe Pizzari when Pizzari had mucked the winning hand a showdown.
But not long after Thumm found an ace and got his chips in against Nacho Barbero. He open shoved his stack of 4.4 million from the small blind with A♦ 2♥ which Barbero called in the big blind with K♦ Q♦ .
The flop of K♥ J♠ 3♦ put Barbero ahead, but Thumm picked up a draw on when the turn came 5♠ .
But the river card K♠ brought an end to his incredible story, one watched by his boyfriend and rail of Twitch followers from start to finish. One we’re looking forward to hearing more about in his next live stream. Congratulations Niclas.Back to Top