Is Steffen Sontheimer the World’s Best Poker Player?

Is Steffen Sontheimer the World Best Poker Player?While Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan and Daniel Negreanu are still the most celebrated names in poker and often crop up when discussing the greatest poker pros of all time, many of these players either play significantly less than they did in the past, or spend much of their time playing in private high stakes cash games away from media coverage.

Therefore, singling out a player to represent the pinnacle of todays’ game becomes a difficult task that usually involves gauging their level of success while playing on the Super High Roller circuit. This is the approach taken by  Negreanu, the world’s number one tournament earner, and recently he announced his pick for the current ‘World’s Best Poker Player’ as Steffen Sontheimer.

A quick glance at the poker resume of the 27 year-old German pro reveals $7,654,012 in career earnings since 2015, with 2017 being a break out year in which he amassed $7,052,324 in winnings. Around $2.7 million of that amount was won at the Poker Masters series in Las Vegas in which he took down two events and final tabled a further two, with the player currently sitting at number 12 on his country’s ‘All Time Money List’.

As to the elements of Sontheimer’s play which Negreanu points to in order to support his point, the Canadian pro highlights the German’s grasp of Game Theory Optimal (GTO) play in poker, explaining:

“He talked about feeling very comfortable whenever he’s bluffing or if he has the nuts because he’s not bluffing in the true sense of what bluffing used to be. Bluffing used to be, “oh my god, I have a bad hand but I’m going to try and steal this pot!” Now it’s “oh, 35% of the time I need to be bluffing here so I am going to do it.” ‘There is no emotional connection to it because he knows what he is doing is balanced and correct.”

Even Negreanu, 43, admits to being fairly new to this approach with the player usually so keen to call a clock on slow players admitting that he now understands “why some of these guys are taking two minutes to think about a decision.”

Negreanu has been extolling the superiority of the German pro contingent for some time now, and became more vocal on the subject after a high-profile twitter war with Hellmuth last year. Hellmuth refused to accept Negreanu’s claims, and as one can image reacted quite badly to being told that these players could run rings around him in tournaments. Interestingly, Steffen Sontheimer later decided to answer Hellmuth’s criticisms with a few digs of his own, and as he explained:

“I’m not sure what ‘white magic’ is exactly. If it’s like talking a lot when you face a bet and then fold the best hand, this works out perfectly. This is something he does super well. And then blowing up after getting shown random sh*t, that’s great as well.”

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