Poker in Germany

History of Poker in Germany

Germany has a fairly long tradition when it comes to poker (as well as other card games) but before the global expansion of poker in 2003, Germans were content to compete mainly in 7-Card-Stud; a game brought to Germany by American GI’s after WWII. Nowadays, Germany is proving to be a quick study when it comes to Texas Hold’ Em and even PLO, and has produced some of the top young talent in the poker world.

As I stated above, the first real influx of poker players came after WWII, as American soldiers brought the game to Germany with them, and with a large US base established in Frankfurt, as well as some other German locales, the game quickly spread around the country. Poker in Germany was at first limited to Germans with a lot of contact with the US soldiers, but eventually started catching on with a larger, but still minor, segment of the German populace.

Even with the globalization of the game, with Germans fairly conservative by nature, it has taken some time before the general population has come around to the merits of playing poker –and not simply viewed it as another form of gambling—where previously the game was sequestered to private home games and in the backs of bars. Now poker can be found in a number of casinos around the country, as well as playing host to major poker tours, such as the EPT Berlin and EPT Dortmund events.

Germany has also produced a large number of female poker players, so unlike other locales where poker continues to be a male dominated endeavor, in Germany you’ll find a slightly larger proportion of women at the poker tables, including the talented Sandra Naujuks and Katja Thater.

Famous German Poker Players

There aren’t many older German poker players that would be recognizable to the masses, but there is a new crop of young poker talent that hail from Deutschland including some of the best young tournament players in poker.

To date, Germans have captured 11 WSOP bracelets, with Eddy Scharf leading the way with two bracelets. Germany will also have a representative at the 2011 World Series of Poker final table, as the 21 year-old Heinz Pius finds himself as part of the November Nine.

Here is a glimpse at the accomplishments of five of the best-known German poker pros:

Sandra Naujuks poker Sandra Naujuks

  • Nicknamed the Black Mamba
  • 2009 EPT Dortmund winner
  • Only been playing tournaments since 2008
  • 5 WSOP cashes in that time
  • Nearly $1.7 million in career tournament earnings


Sebatian Ruthenberg poker Sebatian Ruthenberg

  • 2008 EPT Barcelona champion
  • 2008 WSOP bracelet winner
  • 3rd place in the 2007 EPT Dortmund Main Event
  • Close to $3.5 million in career tournament earnings
  • Earned 3-year Epic Poker League tour card


Katja Thater poker Katja Thater

  • WSOP bracelet winner in 2007
  • Well rounded poker player
  • Team PokerStars Pro
  • $422k in career tournament earnings


Tobias Reinkemeier poker Tobias Reinkemeier

  • 2010 EPT Grand Final High-Roller Champion
  • Plays High-Roller tournaments around the globe
  • Over $2.2 million in career tournament earnings
  • Won the PokerStars Sunday Million in May 2011


Max Heinzelmann poker Max Heinzelmann

  • Two-time EPT runner-up in 2011
  • Has won over $1.6 million in 2011 through July
  • Fearless young player
  • Involved in one of the most infamous hands in WSOP history – Heinzelmann cracked Shaun Deeb’s Aces with A6 after six-bet all-in


Online Poker in Germany

There has been a lot of movement recently in Germany regarding their online poker laws; including attempts in 2007 and in 2008 that attempted to ban online poker –both measures have met with stiff resistance from Germans and from the EU as a whole which claims that the German poker laws violate trade agreements signed by EU nations.

So at the current time, Germany is in a similar position to the many other countries around the world where online poker is stuck in a legal quagmire, not expressly banned, nor 100% legal. Although, it should be noted that no German resident has ever been prosecuted or even arrested for playing online poker.

That said there are still a lot of options when it comes to online poker in Germany. Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in Germany, along with a quick look at what makes them so popular in the nation:

pokerstars site PokerStars

  • Over 50,000 players online at any given time
  • Team PokerStars Germany: Sebastian Ruthenberg, Jan Heitmann, Katja Thater, and Friend of PokerStars Boris Becker
  • Download available in German

pkr poker PKR Poker – NOW CLOSED

  • European focus on marketing and advertising
  • Award winning 3-D online poker room
  • Sponsors German poker pro Sascha “Locodice” Walter

william hill William Hill

  • Excellent reputation
  • Brings in a lot of German poker players thanks to their sports-betting arm


Where to play poker in Germany

Germany has a number of casinos scattered throughout the country, but overall there are very few casinos that have a sizable poker room to speak of –which is why many Germans choose to take the short train ride to Vienna to find a good game.

However, with a number of big tournaments now taking place in Germany you will find good action around these tournaments. Most of the casinos in Germany are operated by the Spielbank Casino group, including the SpielBank Berlin, one of the country’s poshest gambling houses.

Poker laws in Germany

Poker in Germany is best played indoors, and it’s advisable to avoid any private game that takes a house fee or rake. While the German Polezei do not actively go in search of underground poker games, they will respond to calls of such activities, and any suspicion that the game is being run for profit could result in serious problems for all of the players involved.

As noted above, the online poker laws in Germany are very convoluted at the moment, and are doubtful to be straightened any time soon. This unknown atmosphere has caused many online poker sites, including PokerStars to downgrade their advertising aimed at the German market.

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