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Dominik Nitsche Q+A: "Never Blame Anything on Your Luck"
Two years ago, just before the 2014 World Series of Poker, we interviewed Dominik Nitsche at EPT San Remo.
We talked about his rise up the ranks in the game, his relentless travel schedule, his new home in Edinburgh and his views on the current and future state of the game of poker.
It included this assessment of where his and poker's future lay:
"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 ... The future belongs to players like me, who work mainly on mathematical factors like position, stack size and bet size."
Fast forward to now and Nitsche has clearly fulfilled his own prophecy. He won two more WSOP bracelets that summer to make him the youngest 3-time WSOP bracelet winner ever.
In the Summer of 2015 he signed a deal as a sponsored pro for 888poker and since has racked up six-figure score after six-figure score.
He's the go-to stud for the Global Poker League's Berlin Bears, plays in the biggest High Roller events around the world and streams a lot of his online action live on Twitch to a score of rabid fans.
Recently he turned the camera on himself and had his fans ask him anything in a lengthy video Q+A; we've collected some of the best below.
Q: What’s your average buy-in?
DN: The lowest tournaments on 888 that I play are the $109 tournaments. I guess the average is about $200. Live it may be around ten times that.
Q: Will you be streaming on Twitch?
DN: Yes, pretty soon. I’ll do sessions every now and again, like in big tournaments or if I spin a jackpot at BLAST.
Q: Please recount how you played a hand really badly?
DN: I’ve played hands badly, although I might not have thought so at the time. Every poker player makes mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.
Q: Is online poker a fix?
DN: No. Play on a reputable website, and you don’t need to worry.
Q: What’s your limit and how long have you been playing for?
DN: I’ve been playing for about 10 years. Online I play $5/$10 up to $500/$1000, where there sometimes are crazy games.
In live tournaments I play from about $1,000 up to $100,000 but these don’t run on a regular basis.
Q: Is recreational drug use common amongst online poker players?
DN: Yes. There is a lot of weed around, and some other drugs, too. People like the Burning Man crowd are often all about enlightenment.
When I started with online poker many players were smoking weed. I don’t see how they do it, though. How can you play your best when you’re high?
It certainly wouldn’t work for me so I don’t use any drugs, but when other people do it I don’t mind.
Q: Is poker a game of luck?
DN: If it was, why don’t you just go out and get a bracelet? Of course in a single tournament, in a single hand, there’s always luck involved, but when you’re talking about the game of poker, it isn’t.
Q: What’s your favourite poker hand?
DN: Strictly speaking it has to be aces, because I like to win and this is the best hand. Actually, if your favourite hand is something else you should probably check the games and maybe play 2-7 or something.
Q: Can you make $100k a year playing 50c/$1?
DN: I haven’t played on that level for a long time but I don’t think that’s possible. Maybe on $1/$2 or $2/$4.
Q: What’s your advice for making money in poker in 2016?
DN: Pick up a good book on Pot-Limit Omaha, learn the game and aim to move up to $2/$4 or $3/$6. PLO is currently the best game online.
The action is better than in Hold’em, the players are worse. Let’s say your goal is $100k. I can’t see that happening for you in Hold’em, but in PLO it’s definitely possible.
Plus you can always play your No Limit games on the side. I recommend to move away from the multi-table grind and move up to the more skilled level of play. It’s better for your development.
Q: Sofia Lövgren often posts pictures of herself with large cash game chip stacks.
DN: Yes - I don’t know how she does it either. Every time she plays she has piles of chips. Sofia is a sick player, and cash games are her best game.
I assume she sits down at a $5/$10 table with enough to cover the fish and then tries to bust him. After that, she takes it from there.
Q: Do you cheat?
DN: I don’t. I don’t run good enough to cheat. If I was cheating, I’d be a pretty bad cheater.
Q: Do you swap?
DN: I do, but only with players who I think are on my level or very close. But swapping is a business decision. You should never swap with someone because they’re your friend.
If you think you’re better than them, then why would you accept a swap when you could just buy their action for less money?
Q: How do you prepare for big tournaments like the XL series?
DN: I don’t do much preparation but it’s important to adjust your sleeping rhythm. If your tournament starts at 8 PM, you don’t want to be tired at two in the morning because the big decisions are still two or three hours ahead.
Being well-rested is important to me to play good poker.
Q: What event are you looking forward to at the 888 festival in London?
DN: The £2,000 high roller, because I like the higher buy-ins. But the main event will also be a lot of fun as there will be an $888 bounty on my head and I intend to keep it along with the money for first prize.
Q: What’s been your longest online session?
DN: Not as long as for many others. I remember playing 15 hours in a crazy online game with a recreational guy, I think some Russian millionaire, who had infinite money.
He lost a lot that night, and I won, so that was great.
Q: What was your worst beat?
DN: There are too many to tell. I remember a funny one from the €50k in Barcelona. I got it all-in with Q-J on a board J-5-3-7 and someone called with A-Q.
I don’t know why he did that, because he’s a really good player. Anyway, the dealer slams an ace on the river and I was out of a 50k event.
Q: A poker website you’d recommend?
Q: What poker website do you dislike?
DN: Tracking sites like Pokertableratings. I think they’re terrible for the game and I’m glad that 888 got rid of it.
Let’s say someone makes a bad play and gets lucky. Seconds later they get shouted at by someone who’s read how much they lost.
Q: Your advice for beginners?
DN: Don’t be afraid to start very low and work your way up. Study hard and realize it’s mostly hard work.
If you’re talented and catch a break here and there, you’ll make it. And never blame anything on your luck. Nothing good will ever come out of it.