The recent back-to-back major online poker festivals have brought many poker players the opportunity to jump in great value tournaments, with a fortunate few cashing in on massive profits for their hard work. PokerStars’ annual World Championship of Online Poker is one of the regular series poker players look forward to given its generous prize pool guarantees and multi-level buy-in categories for each event. This year, the flagship Main Event awarded winners Andre Marques, Romain Nussmann and player “klimono” World Champion titles for topping the high, medium and low levels respectively.
In this interview, Somuchpoker was able to connect with Main Event winner Romain Nussmann to share with its readers a few details on his significant achievement. Founder of NutsrPoker, Nussmann spends his time coaching aspiring poker players while providing them with a suitable environment to achieve their most ambitious goals.
Somuchpoker: You took down the WCOOP Main Event – M for over $500K last week. How do you feel about it?
Romain Nussmann: Winning an important tournament such as a world champion event has been one of my dreams since I began playing poker so I must say, I feel very well. I see this win as a huge achievement for my poker career considering I have worked hard for over 5 years to get this result. Generally speaking, it takes a lot of time to succeed in the field of poker, players do not really know when they will possibly harvest the fruits of their work, so learning something new everyday until they reach their targets is a good mindset to practice.
SMP: Can you tell us more about the tournament itself especially the final table play? What can you say regarding the dynamics of the game? Are there any particular key hands that stood out?
RN: This final table is very special to me mainly because I started the final table as the chip leader and I kept a huge stack all throughout the tournament. I had a strategy of controlling my risk by not investing too much of my stack in one hand and only pick the best spots. Specific MTT series like the WCOOP hosts a very huge field (more than 7000 entries for this one) which is why final tables are usually soft without a lot of evident top players, and for the said Main Event, this is exactly what happened.
About the spots I played, I did not encounter any specific tough spots. I simply refocused on my strategy and played small ball, avoiding big pots that could possibly take a toll on my stack. I played a crucial hand but would not factor it as an amazing play. I squeezed all in with pocket Jacks from the small blind against an open raise from UTG and a call from the button with 30BBs as the effective stack. Both players folded and I immediately scooped up the pot but if any of either opponents decided to call and I lost the hand, the dynamics of the tournament would have been entirely different. I think most poker players forget these kinds of situations which can technically, put your tournament life on the line when you lose a sizeable pot.
Another thing that comes to mind was my final hand to win the title. I was all in preflop and when the flop appeared, I called a deuce on the turn and on the river and it did come out twice for both cards. I remember that a lot of people sent me messages on my social media network to speak with me about this point.
SMP: This performance is a bit different from your previous successes as it was streamed live on Twitch. Can you elaborate more on that?
RN: It took me some time before I finally decided to stream my final table run. I saw it as a huge risk especially due to the fact that we were playing for over half a million dollars. Poker is a game relative to the information presented and while I decided to stream, it also meant I decided to give out a lot of information to my opponents. Moreover, streaming your gameplay overall reduces your focus on the game itself as you have to pay a level of attention to your community. Added pressure was also a consideration because when you do make a mistake, everyone will be able to see it. For for this final table however, I was not the outsider. A lot of people expected me to win and felt I had a great chance of sealing the deal. So when you fail and miss out on the expectations of those who believe in you, the result can be disadvantageous to your overall reputation and popularity. In the end, I honestly think the bigger performance was streaming my tournament itself rather than winning the World Champion title.
SMP: A lot of members of our community may not know you well considering this title is not your first performance. You are well known among The French Poker community having played professionally for roughly a decade. Can you share with us your poker journey over the years?
RN: I began to play poker back in 2006 as a cash game player and chose to switch to become a MTT player instead in 2015. However throughout 2011 to 2015, I decided to take a break from my poker career and focus on my private life. It was not until 2019 that I gravitated towards playing live tournaments and participating in big festivals like the WSOP and the EPT. An important edge in my career is my coaching skill. I have so much more experience as a poker coach than a professional poker player. I think this is one of the reasons why my skills as a player quickly picked up. When you coach great players, you have to be confident and avoid making any kind of mistake in order to uphold your credibility in the field.
SMP: You are now based in Asia specifically in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Many French poker grinders have decided to emigrate either to keep access to .com poker sites (French online poker market is segregated) or for tax reasons while your move to Asia led toa way more ambitious project – NutsrPoker. Can you tell us more about that?
RN: We opened NutsrPoker the summer of 2019 with a goal to build a strong mindset for all our players: a champion mindset. We wanted to rent a big local space to be able to regroup all our players together. One of our group’s core values is team spirit which we believe pushes our performance to a higher level when we are generally on the same side, working together. We aim to produce the most successful team of professional poker players in the world with our training center which is patterned after the best sports training establishment. The location, Siem Reap, is a great spot given expenses are much lower as compared to in Europe. Players who wish to join our team come to Asia themselves and generally, do not mind the location. However I think if they could choose, most of them would prefer South America to act as our base.
SMP: Except yourself – Any other notable accomplishments from your team since you started?
RN: After only one year, our team has grown to a total of 11 players whom have won more than $340k combined. Most of them were totally random with some actually newbies to the game of poker. That is another unique trait of our training center. We accept random profiles and strive to convert these beginners to possibly becoming great champions. The more we stay together, the more we will perform.
SMP: Based on your experience and what you are teaching your students, what do you think are the biggest mistakes players make when they begin approaching the games professionally?
RN: I have been coaching poker for 12 years in which I have trained now famous and popular professional poker players who are sponsored by various poker rooms. Most of the time, the mistakes are still the same. Majority of the poker players are not professional in their attitude, work ethic and their mindset. Too many poker players play the game mainly for fun and lose focus on making it a career. They don’t take it seriously and these issues prevent them from achieving great results. Another big mistake players make is mismanagement of their bankrolls. A lot of poker players aspire to hit their one time jackpot which fall entirely on their emotions, dreaming of a different life with a game-changer amount of money. From this, they start to play games out of their capacity while making some expectations to succeed. This pattern is very common and is very evident among amateur and recreational players.
SMP: Relative to your experience, what do you think makes the difference between the top 1% – 2% of online pros who make a significant amount of money versus the rest of the winning players – who are good enough to beat the games but are struggling to really breakthrough?
RN: Winning in poker and joining the top 1% of the player pool is way harder now than it was before but not entirely impossible. While many underestimate one’s mental health, a good mindset is necessary for anyone looking to climb up the ranks. Aside from this, players obviously need to work hard and invest time in their craft.
One major mistake I have observed from the poker community is with regards to the available training methods. If you want to get an efficient learning curve, you have to practice with good methods. I personally made my own training sessions to increase my skills and tailor it to what I needed to improve on. If I remember well, the last time I reviewed a hand history from a MTT was three years ago. The concept is to separate the many variables connected with poker gameplay and train one skill at a time.
Let’s take an example: The hand equity VS range equity. In MTTs, we play a lot of spots of all in preflop especially when short stacks are in play. A very important skill to be good at those spots is to estimate your hand equity vs the opponent’s range. To do that, you can exercise by taking one range against different selected hands and identify your equity against it. My students train this skill roughly three hours per week.
SMP: We saw you playing the World Poker Tour Cambodia last year but have rarely spotted you in other live tournaments except for a few big events like the WSOP. Can you explain to us what made you choose to focus on online poker vs live poker?
RN: The answer is very simple. The reason has a name and it is Covid!! For sure when this pandemic is over, you can count on our team NUTSR to be present more often in live tournaments across the globe.