Norway's Silje Nilsen is at the World Series of Poker but she's already looking forward to the Battle of Malta in November.
Right now Nilsen is on a five-week poker trip to Las Vegas that will include cash games, tournaments and the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event.
She's the poker ambassador for GUTS, an online casino and poker room which also sponsors the Battle of Malta.
“I've had good and bad experiences here as you often do in poker but it's such a big city and you have so many opportunities to play in every casino,” Nilsen said about Las Vegas.
“So usually you have to find where the big fish go and just stalk them. If you see a guy with a camera around his neck you stalk that guy until he sits down and then join his table," she joked.
Nilsen said her favorite game is PLO and she usually plays $1/$2/$5. If she's playing No-Limit Hold'em it's at the $2/$5 stakes.
Nilsen is still looking for her first WSOP cash. She played the Ladies Event today but busted out about halfway through the day.
Trading Norwegian Winter for Malta Sun
Nilsen has cashed in the BoM Main Event the last two years in a row. Her biggest career cash was a runner-up finish in the Norwegian Championship in 2015, good for almost $90,000 USD.
She also won the PokerListings.com Spirit of Poker Award in 2016 in the category of Rising Star.
"I love the Battle of Malta, it's so much fun,” said Nilsen.
“I love the structure. You have so much time to play and try lots of crazy stuff.
"And it's just so nice going there when it's winter in Norway. I always look forward to going back because it's always a great experience."
Norway has been heavily represented at the Battle of Malta in past years, largely because poker is still so restricted in that country.
Nilsen said you can now play 10-person Sit and Gos for low stakes but that regulated poker has a long way to go before it replaces the underground card clubs that are so popular.
In fact, after the WSOP Nilsen plans to travel within Norway to play in those clubs.
Underground Poker in Norway
According to Nilsen, the underground poker scene is thriving in Norway thanks to restrictions on legal casino poker.
There's a lot of underground clubs since poker's not allowed and so many people love playing. They're really big and really professional and they're just packed with people every night," she said.
"Cash games and tournaments. Whatever you want to play.
"The police in Norway actually don't have the time or resources to really care about poker clubs as long as there's nothing like drugs or anything else going on. They even come to play sometimes,” she said.
Nilsen has experience playing in the underground clubs in her hometown but she says it's definitely a lot harder than the cash games in Las Vegas.
"In my hometown in Norway, in Trondheim, there are two really big clubs right now and it's really hard there because all the big champions and all the grinders live in that city," Nilsen explained.
“So usually when people come up to play with us in these clubs they're like, 'Holy shit this is a tough table'.
“That's where all the previous Norwegian champions and the Norwegians who have won other major titles all play and discuss hands 23 hours a day and develop their games."
After her five weeks in Las Vegas, Nilsen has been invited to play in a club in Bergen, Norway, somewhere she's never been before.
After that she plans to go to Barcelona and then to the Battle of Malta in November.