Dominik Nitsche Breaks Down the Tools to Succeed at No Limit

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Dominik Nitsche has a few tips to help you get better at No Limit Hold’em.

Every poker player starts their poker education somewhere, even someone with over $10 million in combined live and online tournament earnings like Dominik Nitsche. He may be one of the best No Limit tournament players in the world now, but Nitche’s poker beginnings probably look more like yours than you would expect. While many probably think these high rolling Germans just roll off the assembly line at the Willy Wonka Poker Factory, it took years of work for Nitsche to get his game where it is.

He started where many people did, watching poker on TV. So much so that he takes a lot of pride in filling his own commentary with the most useful strategy information he can while still keeping things watchable and fun.

“It’s important to have someone else with you doing commentary asking the right questions. I think one situation that came up in the broadcast was Daniel Negreanu raising 7-4 suited from early position and the big blind folding a hand as strong as K-9. Situations like these are easy to explain when someone like (my co-commentator) Michael Koener is there to ask the right questions,” says Nitsche.

From there, he turned to the internet, where he leaned “how to play 10-10+ and A-K+ with a 20-big-blind stack. Back then it was more than good enough to win at the smallest games and run up a bankroll,” Nitsche says.

The next step in his poker career is a familiar one—Harrington on Hold’em. “studied these pretty much every day for two or three months,” Nitsche recalls. “Whenever I’d play, I would refer to hands I saw in the book. Back then, it was by far the best resource. Then, of course, came Kill Everyone, which was a fantastic book .”

With his studying, Nitsche built his online bankroll in Sit n Gos, then transitioned from $100 and $200 SNGs to multi-table tournaments. The next step, of course, was live tournament action. He thought he was all set to crush live, but his first experiences on the real-life felt were a bit of a wake-up call. Nitsche very candidly recalls his first experiences:

“I played my first big tournament at the Aussie Millions in 2009. Of course it was a big change of pace from mainly online to playing live, but the players back then were all very inexperienced and ready to give their chips away at any point. I thought I was probably the best player at any table. Now in hindsight, I was probably the best from a technical poker strategy point of view, but I was giving away a lot of live tells and missing probably even more.”

“One thing I very clearly remember doing is looking at my cards as soon as I got them instead of waiting for my turn. It doesn’t seem like a big deal and I only learned about it a couple months later when I met Boris Fragin at the Irish Open. He told me about this and a few other live things after we were done playing for the day. I figured he probably has a good point and maybe we young, online players really do screw up live and miss a lot of things. So, from that point on, I started paying a lot more attention to live tells and I have mostly Boris to thank for it.”

The very next tournament Nitsche played was a Latin American Poker Tour event in Argentina he won for over $380,000. Goes to show what happens when you are willing to acknowledge your weak areas and make efforts to improve them.

This is something Nitsche continues to do today, after $6 million more in live earnings and another $3 million in online winnings, he is still constantly fine-tuning his game. Nowadays, he spends time talking about the game with his peers, grinds day in and day out, and continues to review his play and look at what is working and what is not.

His latest training tool is the work of his friend Roman. It is called Simple Postflop and it is a tool designed to help make game-theory optimal GTO postflop decisions. “His program has been my favorite study tool of choice for the past year and they are doing great things,” Nitsche says.

We may all dream of being a high rolling German poker stud, but even Nitsche had to start the same place as the rest of us. However, his journey is a reminder that hard work pays off, that the learning curve in poker is steep and never-ending, but that there is hope that all of us can go from watching poker on TV to playing on the ESPN main stage someday.