Dominik Nitsche doesn’t stand out much at the poker table but he’s accomplished more at 23 years-old than some of the most famous personalities in poker. The young German cut his teeth playing online and started playing live tournaments as soon as he could in Europe. Nitsche won his third World Series of Poker bracelet on Tuesday in a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event after he defeated Dave D’Alesandro and earned three bracelets faster than anyone in history.
Nitsche has more bracelets than Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth had at that stage of their careers and has cashed for over $3.6 million in his career. In a moment of brutal honesty moments after winning his most recent bracelet Nitsche confessed, “”I’ll be super honest, I’ve been playing poker for seven years now. If I wasn’t at the point I’m at in my career I don’t think I would playing anymore. I wouldn’t come out to Vegas every year. I honestly think I’m one of the best No Limit tournament players in the world right now. I personally think a lot of people still have a lot to learn – I do was well.”
Nitsche joked that he had Hellmuth in his sights for all-time bracelets. Considering what he has accomplished so far, it’s not too far from what could happen. “I have a lot of respect for Hellmuth – it was kind of a joke. I would like to catch him some day for sure. I like winning tournaments and they are fun for me.”
Nitsche has the ability to be at his best in the end stages of tournaments when the spotlight is brightest. He has won exactly a third of the final tables he has made for nine wins. “I think a lot of people get caught up in the moment,” he said. “The cameras are here, the bracelet is on the table – I think I’m a lot more laid back and play my game regardless of what happens.”
Nitsche is one of a handful of young German players that have been turning in jaw-dropping results over the past two years. One thing that they all seem to have in common is that they appear so relaxed at the tables. When asked what they are doing differently Nitsche said, “It’s so hard to say. There’s a lot of great American and Canadian players here and a lot from all over the world. The thing that helps is that Germany is a really big country and we’re going to produce a lot of players.”
“We also have online poker still where Americans don’t. That’s a very big point. You get so much better by playing online. If you play live you can’t get the hands that are needed and be relaxed at this stage,” Nitsche said. “For example, I was talking to Dave (D’Alessandro) and he said he only plays on the New Jersey sites, so he doesn’t get to play against the players I do on a daily basis. When I’m at home I play cash games against some of the best players in the world and they are really hard to beat. They are very strong players – almost as strong as players like Vanessa Selbst. If you can beat those players then you’re going to do well in any tournament.”
Nitsche’s first recorded cash was a win at the 2009 PokerStars LAPT Mar del Plata main event for $381,030. Just six months later he earned his second six-figure cash in a World Poker Tour Marrakech preliminary event. From 2009 through mid-2012 Nitsche played mostly in Europe and it wasn’t until the 2012 WSOP that Nitsche was able to play in the U.S. Fast forward two years and Nitsche is the reigning National Champion and has 19 WSOP cashes to his credit.
Nitsche found instant success and cashed four times for $670,327 in 2012 and won his first bracelet. Interestingly, he defeated 2013 National Champion Jonathan Hilton heads-up for the title in a 4,620 player field. In his two open bracelet wins Nitsche outlasted 6,661 players.
Nitsche has collected nine six-figure cashes in his career out of his 66 cashes. He made a deep run in the 2013 WSOP Europe Main Event where he finished in third place for $547,465.
With success in such huge fields Nitsche shared some observations for navigating big fields. “They are full of inexperienced players. It’s a weekend event and the amateurs come out and have fun. Obviously they are quite easy to navigate early on but then they get tough when good players get a lot of chips like Jeff Gross,” Nitsche said.
“In the end you have get lucky with your table draw. What helped win this tournament was my table draw. I had a starting table full of inexperienced players that always folded to my min-raises and I tripled my stack early in Day 2,” said Nitsche. “My table didn’t break and I had a good seat, I was able to take full advantage. That’s the thing about these $1K tournaments, you have to get a good table draw and then get lucky here and there as well.”
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