Lee Davy talks to the three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, Dominik Nitsche, about recognition, relationships, and dealing with the nightmares of real estate.
Who's better than @DominikNitsche? 3 bracelets in 3 years & down to 5 in the 5k today— Erik Seidel (@Erik_Seidel) June 13, 2015
Erik Seidel sent that tweet on the day Dominik Nitsche made his fifth World Series of Poker (WSOP) final table. He would go on to finish third in Event #25: $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em 8-Handed for $220,657.
Erik Seidel, a man who has been racking up live tournament scores since before Nitsche was born, has won eight bracelets, earned over $24.4m in live tournament earnings, and is recognized as one of the games true greats, posed that question.
That’s high praise indeed.
I caught up with Nitsche to ask him what he thought of that, and this is what he said.
“It was pretty awesome. I respect Erik a lot. He is a very good player, and I have known him for quite some time on a personal level. It’s great when people say nice things about my game, especially if they are as respected as Erik Seidel. We have mutual respect for each other’s game, after playing with each other for years. I don’t like playing against him, but it feels good to receive compliments from him.”
You are making this WSOP bracelet thing look easy.
“I have obviously gotten much better as a player over the years, but everyone has. Perhaps I have gotten better in relation to the field? I wish I was playing here 6-7 years ago, I think I would have done really well, but I can’t change that.
“Winning them is so tough. You have to get lucky and win a few coin flips, but if you play good poker you will get there eventually. This year I had a stretch where I seemed to keep finishing in 10th place. That doesn’t pay anything. I say it’s more about patience and playing consistently. If you consistently play well, you will go deep. You also need to remember that there is always another tournament around the corner.”
How does it feel to wear a patch?
“It feels good. A lot of people are saying a lot of nice things about me, which I appreciate. The goal of becoming a sponsored professional has inspired me to become better at tournament poker. It’s the reason I have been playing so hard. I always wanted to be sponsored. Having success has been a big help. Getting first in my bracelets events, and not second, makes a huge difference. It feels great that the hard work has finally paid off.
“The 888 deal is perfect for me. There were discussions with other companies, over the years, but I like the team at 888. A lot of them are personal friends, and hopefully we will be working together for a long time.”
Who are your inspirations?
“I would start by naming the friends who have been around me for years: David Vamplew, Rupert Elder, Andrew Teng and Manig Loeser. We have been traveling the circuit for 5-6 years now and it’s pretty insane. Marty Mathis is another good friend of mine. He was my horse; now he’s on his own and winning a lot of money. I also give my girlfriend a shout. She is out here with me, and that’s important. When I’m out of a tournament I’m done. I don’t have to play any more poker until the next one. I want to spend time with her, and that helps.”
Is there anything frustrating you?
“Buying a house is frustrating me. I was trying to buy a house in Edinburgh last year. The housing market is so weird. They are valued at a certain price, you put in an offer, and someone puts in a bid £30-40k more? I don’t get it? I don’t want it that much. I can’t justify the -EV decisions that come with buying a house. I guess poker does that to you. I will try again after the summer.”
Has anything held you back from being even more successful?
“This is a good question and something that I ask myself every time. I wouldn’t have been so successful without asking this question. It’s a combination of a few things. I wasn’t working very hard on my game 3-4 years ago. I started working hard circa. 2012 and my rush started at that point. Now I am getting to the point where I am trying to break through to these high roller events. I have found someone who is willing to have as much of my action as I need in these big tournaments. He has a lot of faith in my game,
“Then there are the players. If Erik Seidel thinks you are that good, that gives you confidence to play in these big events. If they are willing to invest in you, then you know you have a chance, otherwise why would they invest in you? The support of those guys is important, as is the 888-sponsorship deal. It’s all about building confidence. If I have my own way you will see me in all $25k’s, in the One Drop, and maybe the $500k?”
I believe you have the ability to beat Phil Hellmuth’s bracelet record, but would need to start playing mixed games. Do you plan to do that?
“I’m not going to play mixed games. There’s not enough money there for me. My focus is solely NLHE, and moving up to the $100k’s. It’s money, money and money. There is enough prestige in NLHE tournaments. It would be fun to play the other games, but at the end of the day, we are here to win money.”
What are you going to do with all the money?
“Save up for retirement. I’m not the type of person who needs a fancy car. It wouldn’t look right in Edinburgh anyway.”
Have you considered giving back to the world?
“That’s something I will be doing once I am financially secure. I think the likes of REG Charity are very important to the world, but my priority lies with my family first and foremost. When I can afford to play in $25k buy-ins on my own money, have a few houses, and have taken care of my family, then I will help change the world. I respect the people who change the world, but I need to make sure my family are secure before I can do that.”
You have been in a relationship for a year now, how has that changed your game?
“She is great. She let’s me play and study when I need to. When I go to an event for a week she is fine with it. SCOOP was tough. Amsterdam was fine because the tournament didn’t start until 2pm, so we had time together in the morning. But the last part of SCOOP was tough. It’s so long. You play, sleep, roll over and fire up tables again. That’s a difficult life. But it’s only a few times per year. We get a lot of time off as poker players, and we enjoy that time off.
“There was a time when it used to be me and Andrew Teng waking up whenever we wanted; playing, ordering take away, going to bed at 5am and rinse repeat. That’s changed for the better. I was too absorbed in this poker thing. I am more balanced now. I am experiencing an unusually high level of success. I want to keep that confidence high, and hopefully the run will continue.”