The 23-year-old German is on a neverending poker journey, it seems, and has been since he was 18 and burst onto the poker scene with an outright win for $381,030 at the LAPT Main Event in Mar Del Plata.
PokerListings Germany's Dirk Oetzmann met up with Nitsche at the recent EPT stop in San Remo to find out more about his struggles on the EPT, his new home in Edinburgh, Scotland, and his plans for the 2014 WSOP.
PokerListings: You’ve won a WSOP bracelet, a WPT title and plenty of other live tournaments. However on the EPT you've never seemed to get anything going. Why?
Dominik Nitsche: You know, I’ve been getting this question a lot recently. Everybody seems to think this is really funny.
Well, variance is one thing and my personal preparation is the other. The level of players here is much higher than at the WSOP.
I have improved my game a lot in the last two years, so now I feel a lot better at these tables.
Playing cash games helped me to improve. From $5/$10 up to $25/$50 players are a lot better than most of the tournament players.
Now I’m not worried anymore if I sit next to some of the best tournament players in the world. I’ve played with most of them online, and my knowledge about them goes far beyond “this guy plays loose, and that guy plays tight."
I know in which spots they're 3-betting, which range they're folding to 3- or 4-bets and so on. I think I will sit at an EPT final table before the end of the year.
PL: Online cash games are one thing but you've earned your fame in live tournaments.
DN: Yes, my life is a neverending poker tour … (laughs)
PL: What place is still missing on your personal poker map?
DN: Japan. I will be in Macau in November anyway, so it won’t be a long trip. I’m already looking forward to visiting the fish market every morning for some fresh sushi.
PL: However, you can’t play poker there. You don’t want to experience anything like Moldavia again.
DN: Oh, you know the story? It’s true, I flew to Chisinau for a poker tournament and when I stepped into the casino there was nothing there.
However, I made the best of it. I jumped on the next plane to Cyprus and went on to win a tournament there.
PL: Being on the road all the time, do you still feel you have a home?
DN: I live in Edinburgh now. I used to live in London beforehand but when Manig Löser moved to Vienna, it became a little lonely.
Rupert Elder, David Vamplew and Andrew Teng are some of my closest friends and they all live in Edinburgh. I am pretty happy with my decision to move up there.
PL: So you’ve also joined some poker clique, too?
DN: No, not really. I am pretty open-minded, I like to meet people and talk to them, but that doesn’t mean that I need to be part of a specific circle.
Also, I don’t pick my friends according to their poker skills, which is why I live together with Andrew Teng. (grins)
I like the way I live in Edinburgh now. I’m even thinking of buying an apartment.
PL: Can you afford this?
DN: For now, yes. But then you never know how things will be in Las Vegas. Worst-case scenario would be that I keep paying rent.
PL: What are your plans for Las Vegas?
DN: Play every No-Limit Hold’em tournament and win my second bracelet. I give myself an edge in every single NLHE tournament. That’s it.
PL: What’s your strategy?
DN: I’m going to do a couple of things differently this year. For example, I will be playing cash games every day.
When they start a $1k tournament I’m going to miss the first two, three hours and play cash games instead.
You can’t win anything in the first couple of levels in a tournament. Even if you have an edge on the bad players and you win some chips, you'll also lose some.
In a cash game my win-rate is a lot higher. And at the end of the day I’m there to make money.
PL: You're obviously still thinking a lot about the game. How do you assess the current state of poker?
DN: What can I say? Everybody still sucks at poker. That includes me, I’m just a little less bad than most of the others.
The reason for this situation is that people have the wrong approach to poker. They consider it a game of egos, where they have to start a levelling war every single hand.
Things are not going to change until people change their mind sets and find a more mathematical approach.
PL: So, what’s going to happen?
DN: All the players who used to be successful in the past with their more intuitive approach will go broke and disappear.
Everybody who thinks along the lines of “oh, this is a good spot for a cold 4-bet, so I should bluff with 100% of my hands," will vanish from EPT main events within two or three years.
The future belongs to players like me, who work mainly on mathematical factors like position, stack size and bet size.
PL: I guess then you should also be in the $1m ONE DROP event.
DN: That’s my goal. At the latest in two years I want to play the ONE DROP. And I want to move up to $50/$100 cash games. It’s still a long way.
But I’m working hard on my game, as opposed to many others. And this is exactly why I will be successful.