Few people are more comfortable at a PokerStars European Poker Tour event than Rolf Slotboom. He's played and written about poker in Europe for the better part of a decade and here at the Season 4 Scandinavian Open, PL.com got the chance to sit down and speak with him on the last break of the evening.
We had scheduled the sit-down with Rolf prior to the break and so, with just a few minutes left in the level, we headed to his table to make sure he didn't slip out the back. As we arrived a big hand was brewing that extended almost halfway into the 15-minute break. Faced with a big decision on the river for a large part of his chips, Rolf made the right decision and mucked his hand. His opponent showed him quads.
Rolf, you've been a fixture in European poker since before a lot of these young players had even picked up the game. What is it about the game that allowed it to become such a huge part of your life?
Basically I just fell into it. I was a dealer and I never intended to play poker as a living. At the time, in 1997, I didn't even know it was possible to play professionally. I was dealing and so I saw a lot of the game and it seemed to me like no one was really winning. But I felt I had the potential to be better than the players I was dealing to in the casino. I also really thought it would be fulfilling to be good at something and to be able to make money doing it.
How naturally suited do you feel you were for the game of poker and how much of it came with the experience of being a dealer?
I think it was a mixture of both. I quickly realized that I had a lot of the skills needed to be a good player, especially a lot of discipline and determination. But at first I didn't know a lot about the game at all. My biggest skill was just being able to wait for those big hands and get paid off. The period when I was a dealer really gave me the idea that I could become a better player though.
It was risky because I hadn't seen any professional players even though I was at the Concord, the biggest cardroom in Europe. There were maybe a few winning players that I knew but it really seemed like they weren't making a lot of money. So making that decision was a really big step.
Since that time you've done things in poker apart from just playing. You've done a lot of writing, both in your books and online, as well as a lot of instructional material. How much do those things help in terms of the development of your game?
In the beginning it definitely helped a lot. It helped me get on the right track and start thinking more analytically about the game. Now though I really feel it only costs me time. It takes a lot of time to come up with quality stuff and what I'm really doing is educating the competition which is probably not the smartest thing to do. At a certain point, like a plateau, that sort of activity isn't as beneficial. Talking and analyzing the game with friends or other people is a lot more helpful since you get new input and a different perspective.
You've had a good year - four cashes at the WSOP - so how much is your game still developing and do you think you've made any big advancements recently?
Actually it's still developing a lot because I used to be a strictly cash game player. I rarely if ever played tournaments. And then when I decided to focus on tournaments I got a really big head start because I won many more than my skill level entitled me to. It seemed like every final table I made I would win. I think I was playing much too loose-aggressive but I ended up getting away with it every time.
Do you think that was a good thing in the long run?
In the long run I don't know if it was a good thing but it let me play more. Also the loose-aggressive style allowed me to win those tournaments. Now I'm trying to play better but in the last year I haven't won a single tournament. If you look at my results I've done well and I've made money but I've been at many final tables without winning any of them.
Well hopefully you'll be able to take down a few in the near future. Thanks Rolf.
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Having worked alongside Rolf when he's been on the media side of things rather than sitting at the felt we can say from experience he brings a wealth of poker knowledge to the table. Although not a superstar in the game, Rolf is a perfect example of a professional who's able to make a legitimate living doing what he loves.