The rail may not be as boisterous as it was at the start of the day – local boy Anthony Lerust’s elimination sent most of the excitable French supporters out the door – but at least one person is looking pretty intent on the action. Dominik Nitsche, who’s sat alongside EPT London winner David Vamplew, has a slice of Oliver Price, who’s now among the final five players with a guaranteed € 164,600 payday, and a shot at the €614,000 first-place prize.
“It’s quite a random story,” said Nitsche, a tour reg with $3,017,030 in live winnings to his name. “I ended up buying a piece of Oliver because we have a friend in common, his name is Ben Dobson. David and I were looking for a place to stay since neither of us won a package. Oliver and his friend were renting a whole apartment down the street and asked us to stay with them. That’s kind of how this whole thing came about. When I first talked to Oliver he wasn’t even sure that he was going to play the main. He said, ‘I’m going to play the FPS and see how it goes.'”
Nitsche paused to giggle: Price was looking back at us over his right shoulder from the final table. A quick grin and thumbs up later, Price returned his attention to the final table.
“He’s primarily a cash game player and wasn’t sure that he wanted to play,” continued Nitsche. “I told him that he should, that he’s way better than these people and he should get in there and show them how it’s done. Luckily, he decided to play and offered me a small percentage, which I happily took and now he’s here at the final table.”
A good run in the Big One
Price had a deep run in the WSOP Main Event last year (49th, $151,063) so picking this dark horse wasn’t exactly rocket science, or rather it wouldn’t have been had Nitsche known about it.
“I actually had no idea, no.,” said Nitsche. “I didn’t know anything. That’s not how I do this. When I want to buy a piece of someone I want to have played with them before, I want to have my personal opinion and see how they play. Or, in his case, I want to talk about a few hands. We were discussing a few strategies and were talking GTO (game theory optimal) plays and five-bet bluffing ranges of a 100 big blind stack, stuff like that, where you could clearly tell that he was a smart thinking player. He thinks about the game a lot better than most tournament players. For me, it was an easy decision to buy at this point.”
How much did association with Dobson factor into your decision?
“It really had nothing to do with it,” said Nitsche quickly. “I’m friends with lots of bad poker players as well.”
I quickly indicated at Vamplew.
“No, clearly not,” said Nitsche.
Nitsche’s general recommendations in regards to staking involve probing the player on their poker knowledge. Do they just talk a good game and handle the slang well, or do they actually really understand it?
“I want to play poker with them, talk to them about the game, ask a few questions and see what they think of a few spots, see if they have a basic idea of short stack strategies. He (Price) was telling me he’d studies Nash ranges and knows how to play a minus fifty big blind stack optimally, he’s got shoving charts and all that stuff. Yeah, I thought he had a good idea of how to play. Let’s be honest, EPT Deauville is still the softest tournament on the EPT circuit.”
In that case…
If it’s that easy, then shouldn’t both Vamplew and Nitsche be sat at the final table?
“I was clearly mistaken that this is the softest,” said Nitsche, rocking back with a smile. “This is the toughest tournament because I can’t cash here. That’s just how tournament poker goes, right?
“I try to maximise my EV in softer tournaments,” he explained. “I’ll not go nuts and buy everyone in the Grand Final, I’d just have myself. It’s a tough tournament. Then you have the good tournaments like Deauville and the WSOPE Main Event. They are the tournaments where I really try to have a lot of people. Here I have a piece of five to twenty per cent of twenty different people. I felt this was a good one and it looks like it’s the right decision in the end. I got kind of lucky, but he (Price) still has to get me out of it. I don’t think that I’m break even yet.* I haven’t checked the numbers.”
Now, before you start emptying the piggy bank and booking action in your next tournament, maybe you should hear the other side, the less… speculative? … approach.
Vamplew has done pretty well for himself, too, raking in $3,066,025 in live tournament scores. He doesn’t feel the need to get too involved in the staking game.
“In general, I don’t buy pieces because I think that it’s always really hard when you’re not playing yourself how good someone is and what their actual ROI is,” said the Scottish number one. “Once you add make-up it’s hard to have an edge there, and even if you do eke out some small edge the variance is huge and not something that I need. I think most of the time people will buy pieces to have a sweat or to help out their friends, not necessarily as a serious way to make profit. I think it’s probably difficult to find that many people that can make a consistent profit.”
Nitsche still wanted the last word: “There are some good buys, clearly.”
Price, still smiling, keeps climbing that money ladder.
*We spoke when there still six players remaining.
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Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.