The poker world has lost the two-time European Poker Tour Main Event runner-up, Max Heinzelmann after passing away of natural causes, aged just 26.
I have very few poker friends.
I don’t spend enough time in the throng to connect deeply enough to make them. But I do have plenty of acquaintances; people I like and seem to like me, who share a smile and a pleasantry every once in a while, more often than not, connected to a request for an interview.
One of these passing flings was with the German pro Max Heinzelmann. I met him in 2011, in San Remo, where he played superbly to finish runner-up to Rupert Elder in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event, three weeks after finishing in the same position at the EPT Main Event in Berlin.
A deep run in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event followed (151st), and it seemed Heinzelmann was heading for the stars. Unfortunately, beset by financial problems, the young man’s career didn’t reach the stars and instead was sucked into oblivion like a rocket ship sailing past Pluto.
And now we will never see him again.
Max Heinzelmann passed away in his sleep.
He was 26-years old.
Writing about his passing in PokerTube, Andrew Burnett, was in contact with Lanni Deskins, a former girlfriend of Heinzelmann, who confirmed the two-time EPT runner-up suffered from a series of health issues and died of natural causes.
Deskins also stated that Heinzelmann had made bad choices but truly wanted to fix his mistakes. I assume Deskins was referring to a 2+2 thread that opened in 2014 where several players outed the German star over a series of unpaid debts.
Writing at the time of the outing, Heinzelmann apologised to those he had wronged, accepted that nobody would ever trust him again, and vowed to repay people as quickly as he could.
During my conversations with him, I always felt a very positive energy emanating from him. He was a sweet and kind young man, and to leave this world at the age of 26 is such a tragedy.
Heinzelmann earned $1.8m playing live tournaments between 2009 – 2014, and played online as HotKarlMC.
He passed away on 31 May.