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Ricki Nielsen - Making all the Right Decisions at the WSOP
It is assumed that all young players at the WSOP are Internet kids. They've seen very little live play, and they're uncomfortable playing in anything other than their underwear in their college dorm with their fingers caked and crusty with orange residue from eating too many Doritos. Since he's 23, and prominently repping PokerRoom.com, you might assume Ricki Nielsen is one of those kids. But he's far from it. New to poker? Maybe. But he's all about live play. It's all he knows, and with $3,170,000 in chips at the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, it certainly shows.
How long have you been playing poker?
I've been playing poker for one year and eight months.
Wow. So are you basically an online player?
No. The thing is, I'm from Denmark, right? And Denmark is a very small country, and there's a guy named Gus Hansen. They made a television show about him, and after everybody saw how this Dane went to America and became a star, they got very keen on poker. So all these young people just started playing at their houses, at ring games, and stuff like that. So I started off that way - by playing with my friends. And one day I felt that I was actually having an edge over these people, so why not try one of these weekly Sunday tournaments at a casino that was about thirty kilometers away from where I lived? So I did that and came in third, and after that I was really hooked. I started to get into it from there, and it has just continued to escalate.
So you've been doing extremely well since then?
The thing is, the difference between me and a lot of other young guys is that I never got the touch online. I started out playing live, and when I play Internet poker, I don't feel that I have the advantage that I have live. I feel like I'm an extremely good tournament player, and ok cash player, but online I just haven't had the touch yet. So, I think that in this tournament that has given me an advantage above some of the other players.
You say that you think you have an edge during live play over Internet play. What do you look for when you're playing live?
I started playing live, so I notice a lot of things. I read a few books of course, and I read a poker tell book. I have my own way of combining my game, and really just the experience is a big reason why I've come so far in this tournament I think.
It looked like you were at a pretty tough table today.
Well the last one I was at was actually not the roughest one so far. The first table I sat on a lot of people got busted out, so new players kept coming in. That table was a lot tougher than this one. I pretty much know where I stand compared to these guys. We're at 45 players right now. If you make it to the top 45 at the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, then you've got to be a good poker player. That's really all there is. It takes skill to get this far.
Why do you think it is that out of almost 9,000 starting players, Allen Cunningham and Humberto Brenes are the only pros left? The rest are guys like you pretty much - experienced players who aren't very well known. I think that's a very interesting phenomenon.
I think so too. I think when you see a guy like Daniel Negreanu getting a lot of chips, I think people just respect him because he's Daniel Negreanu. But he's like any other person. When his stack takes a big hit, of course his confidence goes down as well, and he starts making mistakes. They're excellent players, but you need some luck as well to win this event.
How did you get involved with PokerRoom.com?
I won a Danish ranking list. You know how I told you about that tournament I won third in Copenhagen? Well that actually went into a magazine, and they gave me some points on a Danish list like they have in American magazines. And every time you get in the money in a Danish tournament at one of the five casinos in Copenhagen, you get points for this list. [PokerRoom.com sponsored this list. First place got an all expenses paid trip to the WSOP, and second and third had their Main Event buy-in paid for.] And I had such a good run from the fall of '05 up to practically now. I finished on the top of that list, and it gave me lots of publicity in Denmark, and now this will give me even more publicity. People may think it doesn't take that much to win the Danish ranking, but it does take skill. I knew that if I had a good run, had some luck, and played well, I would get in the money here. I didn't know I would make it this far, but I'm just going to enjoy it, have fun with it, and make sure I keep making the right decisions.