Ismael Bojang is an unheralded player from Germany who has quietly amassed nearly 40 tournament cashes over the last two years.
He’s not as flashy as some of the more well-known German poker superstars but he’s very, very good at the game.
Yet despite all his results Bojang is still hunting his first major poker title and he’s traveled around the globe looking to finally smash that one big score.
Unlike most poker players this generation Bojang was entirely self-taught and never read strategy books or watched videos to improve his game. He just played. A lot.
PokerListings caught up with the Hamburg native during a break in the $1.6k PLO event at the 2014 WSOP APAC.
PokerListings.com: You’ve had a lot of success over the years but have thus far failed secure a WSOP bracelet, is that a big deal to you?
Ismael Bojang: Yes. That’s why I’m here. [laughs] The fields aren’t that big but winning a bracelet is always nice and I’ve never had a big win. I’ve had a couple of deep runs and a couple final tables but winning one big tournament… that’s my goal.
Winning one at the WSOP is as good as it gets in poker.
PL: How did you actually get your start in poker?
I’ve been playing a long time. I just started playing with some friends and then won a little bit of money online. Then I played live poker a lot. I didn’t really play much online poker. It just worked for me.
I had some fun winning money and that’s pretty much why I kept playing.
PL: Was it live poker right from the beginning? That’s fairly unusual in this day and age.
Yeah. I just won like $500 online and took it right to the casino.
PL: Where are you living these days?
I used to live in Hamburg, that’s where I was born, but I moved to Vienna about two years ago.
PL: How are the games in Vienna?
There are good games in Vienna but most of the time I’m traveling. I’m on the road probably 200-250 days a year.
PL: Do you enjoy that amount of travel?
Yeah. That’s the best part of playing poker. You get to see the world and meet new people every day. I really enjoy it. I’m not playing as much poker as I used to over the last couple years but I’m still on the road all the time.
PL: German players have been incredibly dominant on the poker circuit over the last few years. Why do you think that is?
Actually I don’t have a clue. Everyone points out the fact a lot of German players talk to each other but every country does that. I mean they do that here in Australia.
We have a big advantage because Germany is a big country and we are still able to play online. There are also a lot of good players in Russia but they aren’t as famous as the German players because Germany is right in the center of Europe and we travel to all the live tournaments.
Russians and Swedes have more tax problems than we do. Germans are just more famous. It’s not that we are better.
PL: Are there any particular poker pros you look up to?
I don’t have any. I didn’t learn the game from anyone and I don’t watch videos. I just tried to find my own style and learn the game.
I learned by playing a lot.
PL: You cashed nine times at the WSOP. Any reason you were so prolific this year?
My friends make fun of me for always min-cashing. I don’t know if it’s my playing style or what. I mean I’ve had some deep runs too but I’m still looking for that really big score.
I cash a lot. It’s not just the WSOP. I probably cash around 25% of the tournaments I play. Maybe even more.
The WSOP is very soft and if you learn how to play the mix games then I think you’ll have a good cashing rate.
I play all the games and if you look at my results I think eight out of 10 were in non-Hold’em tournaments.
If you’re playing Hold’em events you’re always short-stacked and that makes it much more difficult to get into the money. If you play deep stack and have a big edge of the field… you’ll find the biggest edges can be found in mix game events.