The pre-bubble period of play is a funny one. Coming back into today there were more than one hundred players left, around a third of whom weren’t going to be paid. The money was close, but not close enough to stall for. You could see small looks of relief on the face of some when a hand went to the flop with other players involved. You can’t bust when you’re not in the hand, and a post-flop hand can take no little amount of time bringing the money closer still.
There were also plenty of players that obviously didn’t have that attitude, of course, and you’d count the likes of Pius Heinze, Mike Telker, Shyam Srinivasan, Stephen Chidwick and Dominik Nitsche among them. Nitsche had been particularly active and had grown his stack from a Day 3 starting 258,300 up to 320,000. Then he moved to the feature table being webcast on EPTLive. Something went very wrong when Nitsche picked off a huge river bluff made by Stephen Chidwick. It wasn’t a bluff.
Nitsche had called a river shove with A♠10♠ on a 5♠8♠6♦10♣K♥ board for almost his entire stack. Chidwick held pocket eights for a flopped set. That left Nitsche very short, but he’s since run it back up to around 150,000. It’s been a very swingy day, which isn’t particularly unusual for Nitsche.
The 23-year-old German is a talented player with $3,020,855 in live tournament cashes to his name, partly thanks to LAPT and WSOP titles. He’s picked up a similar amount of cashes in online tournaments, too. The European Poker Tour however has not been so bountiful a hunting ground; he’s collected just €53,000 from four Main Event cashes, despite being a tour regular for several seasons.
“My EPT finishes have been kind of embarrassing to say the least,” said Nitsche. “I don’t know why this is. They’re the toughest tournaments out there and there’s lots of good players, so it’s kind of what you’d expect. There’s been some really big fields this season and last season, maybe that’s why. Maybe I didn’t adjust to the players. There’s probably a couple of things. I’d hate to say it was variance. I probably haven’t played my best in the past.”
Nitsche is honest if nothing else, and that brutal honesty is no doubt part of what makes him such a good player. That and the fact that he’s always looking to improve his game.
“I’ve been playing a lot more cash games online and I think that’s been helping me playing the deep stacked part of an EPT better,” said Nitsche. “It’s resulted in me finishing up with pretty decent stacks after day one in Prague, Vienna and also here. I think I’ve improved a lot and I hope I can turn it into something good. It’s starting to look nice.”
Those $5/$10 and $25/$50 cash games look to be helping, but then again this was all said before he called that big river shove from Chidwick. Things didn’t look quite so nice for a while, but the upbeat German is now back on course and looking to spin up his fifth EPT Main Event cash into something significant.
“I’m in a big EPT and Sanremo hole,” said Nitsche.
He’s played “six or seven” headline tournaments here in Sanremo, between EPT and IPT Main Events, but this is his first cash (although he did win a side event for €35,000). He’s now locked up a minimum of €9,180, which is a good first step, but Nitsche is still looking to rectify squandering a monster chip lead at EPT Barcelona in Season 7 (which was eventually won by Kent Lundmark).
“I blew up really hard,” said Nitsche. “I was chip leader with 40 left and played it like an idiot. That happens sometimes. It’s time for redemption. It’s four years later. It’s time.”
Just so long as he doesn’t keep calling down sets, of course.
Considering he won so much so young, Nitsche is pretty grounded. He’s not into extravagant displays of wealth – although he does love a good restaurant – and doesn’t really understand why other players would let their ego go to their head.
“They’re complete idiots, let’s be honest,” he said. “They blow their money on expensive cars, expensive watches, they play Super High Rollers on their own money and lose because they’re not good enough or they get unlucky and no one cares. I’m not like that. I don’t need that. For me, poker’s a way to make money, very consistent money. By the time I’m 30, I want to be set.”
If he can spin up his stack here into a final table finish then he’ll have taken another huge stride to achieving that. He’s starting to look at different investments accordingly.
“I haven’t done as much as I’d like to in the past because I’ve been playing so much,” said Nitsche. “My priority in the past has been poker, poker and some more poker. I’ve been looking to buy a house after the summer, if I don’t get destroyed in Vegas. I could buy a couple of houses and rent them out. Right now, I’ve got enough money, but if Vegas goes badly… I can never say what’s going to happen. There are other things I’ve looked at. Some of my friends have invested in Bitcoins, but personally I’m not convinced.”
Among other things, he’s currently considering investing in a video game, alongside the likes of former EPT winners Rupert Elder and Mike McDonald.
“I’m spreading my wealth and seeing where it goes,” said Nitsche.
It kinds of sounds reminiscent of his pre-flop game. If we can’t have a double winner here then we could certainly do worse than crowning Nitsche as an EPT champion.
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Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.