Dominik Nitsche was one of the most prolific live grinders in the world years before he was even old enough to play in the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
He has wasted little time making up for lost time since he came of age.
Nitsche has already won three WSOP bracelets. Add that to a World Poker Tour (WPT) title won in Johannesburg and the man is a European Poker Tour (EPT) win away from a Triple Crown.
I actually believe Nitsche has everything in his arsenal to one day overtake Phil Hellmuth as the most successful WSOP player of all time.
When he agreed to dissect my Colossus hands, I was chuffed to bits. This is what he had to say.
Event: WSOP Event #5: The Colossus
Starting Stack: 5,000
Blind Levels: 40 minutes (Day 1) 60 minutes (Day 2)
I enter on Flight Day 1A and am card dead throughout the day before exiting at the end of Level 6. I re-enter the following night with a 25bb starting stack.
Level 5: 100/200 A25
I open the button with Q♣ 5♣# (25bb) and the big blind calls (11bb). The flop is J♦ 3♣ 2♣. He check-jams when I c-bet 600 and I make the call. I hit my flush on the turn and win the pot, eliminating my opponent.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback I’m not sure you should be opening this hand. It all depends on the strength of the players in the blinds.
If they were strong, this would be a fold. As played we want to get the money in as quickly as possible against a short-stacked opponent, and we achieved that.
We’re playing seven-handed and I open to 4,500 from UTG (40bb) holding A♥ K♠. It’s my third successive raise. Only the big blind makes the call (45bb).
Flop: J♠ T♦ 6♦. We both check.
I bet 600, he raises to 1,800, I make it 3,525, he jams and I call. He shows [9x] [8x] and he’s drawing dead.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: Well played. In poker tournaments like the Colossus it’s very important to realize when your opponents have a hand they can’t get away from.
And from my experience that is the case here. No need to slow play on the turn – just put in another raise.
Level 6: 150/300 A25
A player UTG opens to 700 (20bb), UTG+1 makes it 1,500 (20bb) and I flat with T♠ T♣ in position; the original raiser folds.
Flop: Q♠ J♦ 9♥. He moves all-in and I tank for several minutes before making the call.
I was convinced he was trying to get me to fold and thought AK was his likely holding.
There were times during my tank when I told myself to fold and wait for a better spot, but I couldn’t imagine him making this move with any other hand. I call, he shows AK and bricks the turn and river.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: This is actually a pretty easy fold pre-flop. You’re behind UTG+1’s range and you have no money invested.
Lee Davy Comment: Dominik makes a very good point. What was I going to do on a low, uncoordinated flop? In effect I was set mining, but would I have called with pocket fours? I know I wouldn’t have done that, so this is a mistake.
I realized that I was behind his range but called anyway, which is bad. I think I just saw pocket tens, my brain clicked in and knew it was a top hand, and I called without thinking.
I open to 675 from the HJ (86bb) holding pocket queens. The button calls (33bb) as does the big blind (33bb).
Flop: 8♥ 8♦ 7♥. It checks to me and I bet 700. The big blind raises to 2,100 and the button folds.
This player was extremely aggressive and it was the second time I had seen him check-raise a paired board. I pegged his range at straight draw combinations, heart draws and a lot of air. I call.
Turn: T♣. He checks to me. I know some of the straight draws have come in and this puts me in a spot if I bet and get raised again.
He could also still have me beat with some [8x] type hand. I decided to check behind and then call his river bet.
River: 2♠. He bets 2,100 and I snap call. He shows pocket deuces for the boat.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: The turn is the interesting spot, and the question is: can we can get more value by checking the turn or by betting? I would tend to check and call a river be, as you have done.
Pocket queens is not strong enough to face any sort of aggression on the turn. An argument could be made for checking the flop against tough players, but against the standard player in The Colossus I prefer the bet. Nice hand, Lee.
Level 7: 200/400 A50
There’s an early position raise to 800 (75bb). The button calls (65bb) and I call in the small blind holding K♦ Q♠ (57bb).
Flop: T♦ 8♥ 6♥. We all check.
Turn: 8♦. I fold to a bet from the button. The pair show down ace-rag hands.
I considered squeezing but the two players involved in the hand hadn’t long sat down and I knew nothing about their game. The early position open was from a middle-aged woman.
I put her on a strong range and didn’t want to fold my hand to a raise. I was happy playing small ball. Once I saw both of their hands I told myself that I could raise more liberally in the future.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: This is a tough one. I prefer the pre-flop 3-bet here. Given that both show down ace-rag we can assume they open too many hands and act accordingly in the future. Post-flop there is nothing you can do. Just move on to the next hand.
Lee Davy Comment: I took his advice on board and was three-betting this type of hand in the Millionaire Maker. It was an extremely profitable play.
I open to 900 UTG (70bb) holding A♠ 6♠ and UTG+1 makes the call (15bb).
The flop is 5♥ 4♥ 3♠. I check, he moves all-in and I call.
He shows pocket sixes but I win the hand and eliminate him when I hit a runner-runner flush.
I don’t like this hand at all. I don’t mind the open because the table was tight and full of weaker players. But when the flop came down I should have put him in.
When he jammed I called fairly quickly and I’m not sure this was the right decision. I think I probably should have folded.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: I agree! I’d assume villain in your hand is an inexperienced player simply because he called pre-flop off such a shallow stack.
I’d set him all in on the flop. Your hand is too strong to fold against such a small stack and you’re getting a good price. He might even fold some better Ax hands.
A loose old guy opens to 1,050 from early position (65bb) and a tight-looking middle-aged woman flats in mid-position (38bb).
I have A♠ Q♦ on the button. I consider flatting to play a pot in positio, but instead raise to 4,000. Another woman moves all-in for close 100bb and I snap fold.
If I think I have the advantage post flop, should I have called and played a pot in position or was the three-bet the right play?
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: I prefer a three bet. You really want to get the pot heads up and potentially dominate some of your opponent’s hands.
Maybe you could have sized it a bit smaller since you’re in position but that’s really not that important. Nice hand.
Level 8: 250/500 A50
I open the cutoff for 1,125 holding A♦ 3♣ (68bb) and a good player calls in the big blind (50bb).
Flop: J♣ 5♣ 2♦. He check-calls a 1,200 c-bet.
Turn: 4♠. I make my straight. He checks and I bet 3,250, hoping to get a call from a jack or middle pair. He folds.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: You played the hand fine.
Level 8 300/600 A75
I lose a flip AJ<TT and have 43bb at the start of the next hand. The button opens to 1,200 (23bb), the small blind calls (33bb) and I call in the big blind with 7♠ 4♠.
Flop: 6♥ 5♠ 4♥. The small blind (who is an old school reg), leads for 600. I call and the button folds.
Turn: T♣. He bets 2,300 and I call.
River: 4♣. He checks, I bet 4,500 and he folds.
There were so many draws I was never going to fold unless he got crazy, and he was a solid player.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: That’s one way to play the hand and it’s completely fine. I prefer raising the flop, though, and applying maximum pressure.
The board is by far the best for you and you have plenty of equity and very little showdown to justify going crazy. You also don’t have great implied odds so that’s another argument for raising.
Lee Davy Comment: Dominik isn’t the first professional to find spots where I’ve taken a less aggressive line with my play. This is because I am only playing a few events, and don’t want to bust, so I am trying to get to showdown without too much pain.
I have since learned from this and have applied more raises to my game.
Level 10: 400/800 A100
I haven’t played a hand for ages. I’ve gotten involved in a three-way conversation and I’m having a right laugh. Unfortunately, for the first time this series I am not concentrating on the play.
The action is 8-handed when I open to 1,675 holding T♦ 9♦ in MP (50bb). The CO moves all-in for 2,400 and the big blind calls leaving just 9bb behind.
Before the flop comes down the big blind looks at me to indicate that we should both check down to the river.
Flop: Q♠ T♣ 3♣. We both check.
Turn: 7♦. He checks, I bet 2,400 and he calls.
River: 2♠. I think I am beat. He checks, I check back and he shows [7x] [6x], for a pair of sevens, and the all-in player mucks his hand.
The tens are good but I wasn’t paying attention at all during this hand.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: We either need to bet small on the flop, to protect our equity, or check it down. These spots are tricky and tough to get right. I’m honestly surprised you got called by worse.
A solid player opens to 1,900 in EP (62bb), I three-bet to 4,000 from MP holding A♥ J♦ (60bb) and he calls.
Flop: J♣ 6♠ 7♠. We both check.
Turn: Q♦. He checks, I bet 3,500 and he calls.
River: 4♦. We both check.
I hate this hand. I don’t mind the three-bet that much. I hadn’t been getting out of hand and neither had he. I think my play looked strong. My gripes are as follows.
Should I be bloating the pot against the only other stack that can hurt me, especially when he is a decent player?
Secondly, if I am repping a big hand pre flop shouldn’t I bet the flop?
I don’t bet the flop because I want to pot control. I thought it was a two-street hand and didn’t want to get check-raised on the flop. When he called on the turn my mind went blank.
I was happy to get to showdown. Had I thought about this a little more, the queen doesn’t really help him that much. I could have gotten value from 88, 99 and TT.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: Betting the flop here is best. You will get check-raised less often than you think. You can then follow this up by betting most turns and then checking most rivers.
While I agree getting check-raised here would be annoying, it would also be a fairly ambitious bluff by villain when we can have QQ+ or a flush draw quite easily.
Level 11: 500/1000 A100
This was another hand where I wasn’t paying attention because I was talking too much. A new player moves to the table and limps into the pot off a 14bb stack in late position.
The small blind only has 4bb after just losing an all-in. She calls. I check with T♣ 9♦ in the big blind (51bb)
Flop: T♣ 7♣ 3♣. I lead for 2,000, the original limper raises to 4,500 and both the small blind and I fold.
I overhear him telling the person behind him that he flopped the nut flush. I don’t know why I took the betting lead or what I was trying to accomplish by it.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: I have no idea. I brought this hand up when talking to a few friends and we were all surprised by that guy’s reaction.
I wouldn’t lead. You have a great hand to check call.
It’s the last hand of the night. A solid player opens in mid position (65bb) and I look down at K♦ Q♥ on the button (47bb). I’m very close to three-betting before deciding that I want to bag up a nice stack and fold my hand.
He shows ace-king. I’m interested in your thoughts about folding and the reasons I have given for the play. I end the day with 47,300 chips, which is good for 174th out of the remaining 3,477 entrants.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: I hate that logic. Making the day is fairly irrelevant. If anything I’d be more aggressive in this spot because people hate to play big pots at the end of the day.
Day 2 – Hand #14
Level 12: 600/1200 A200
A player who has been quite active limps off 15bb from early position. The small blind calls off the same-sized stack and I check 8♠ 6♠ in the big blind with 39bb.
Flop: K♦ 8♥ 6♥. The action checks to the limper who bets 2,400. The small blind folds and I raise to 6,700 looking to get it in. He just calls.
Turn: K♣. I’m gutted when I see the second king. I keep thinking about the chips I have wasted. It throws me completely.
I check, he bets 5,000 and I call. The river is the 4♠.
I check and he moves all-in. I tank for ages and then fold. I know I have should have folded the turn. Initially, I thought he maybe would call my check-raise with a draw, but that’s bad thinking.
He would have moved all-in with a draw. I also think he does the same with a king. This leaves a big pocket pair. He later told me that he had aces. It was a terrible hand by me.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: It’s a really awful turn card. Sometimes that happens though. I’d just check-fold the turn and move on.
An old guy (WSOP bracelet winner, not sure of his name) opens to 2,400 in MP (40k) and I flat on the cutoff with 5♠ 6♠ (35bb).
Flop: J♦ 7♣ 6♣. We both check.
He checks, I bet 4,500 and he folds.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: There is no way you should be playing this hand pre-flop against any solid player off this stack size.
You can make a case for three-betting, if the blinds are weak, or you have another reason to believe he’s opening wide.
However, at 35bb 65s is a pretty poor hand. Usually it’s best to just fold it.
A lady opens to 4,200 in MP (100bb+) and I move all-in from OTB holding A♠ Q♦ (22bb). She folds ace-jack face up. This felt like a wasted opportunity. Is there any other play here?
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: There’s nothing you can do. Just take the free chips. Hardly the worst result.
I open A♥ T♥ from the HJ to 3.600 (29bb). The CO calls (30bb) and the big blind calls (31bb).
Flop: K♦ J♦ 6♣. I c-bet for 3,600 and both players call.
Turn: 9♠. The big blind leads and I fold. The pot goes to showdown and the big blind mucks handing the pot to the CO.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: This seems fine against your typical opponents in the Colossus.
We aren’t hand-for-hand but we are in and around the bubble. I look down and see aces.
I open to 3,400 (24bb) and an active older guy in the small blind three-bets me to 11,000 (31bb). I move all-in, expecting a call, and he folds.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: I’m surprised he folded. I’d play it the same unless I had very specific reads. You were unlucky.
This is possibly the worst hand I played in the entire event. It folds to me on the button and I look down and see J♣ 2♥. Without thinking, I go to muck the hand.
Then I decide to try and steal, but this is stupid because the big blind never folds. I open to 3,400 and the big blind calls.
Flop: K♥ J♥ 6♣. We both check.
Turn: 3♣. He leads for 3,400 and I call.
He checks and I check. He shows J♦ 6♠ for two pair.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: You have opened with a really bad hand. Just fold it pre flop.
Level 14 1000/2000 A300
I open to 4,200 in the HJ with J♣ T♣ (21bb). I get three callers. The flop of A♥ 6♣ 2♠ is checked through.
I fold to a bet on the [8h] turn. This was a terrible hand. I should have folded pre-flop.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: JTs is a fine hand to open from pretty much any position. Against loose players you might even be able to bet this flop and get them to fold.
I pick up pocket queens UTG with 13bb and I move all-in. Nobody calls. I didn’t raise because I was afraid of getting called by [Ax] and [Kx] hands.
I know this is wrong. On the other hand I am going to be shoving a lot and want to balance my medium-strength hands with my top-strength hands.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback In the Colossus it’s best to put in a minimum raise to give other players a chance to make a mistake. Don’t worry about being balanced when it comes to shoving.
I shove AK (15bb) and get called by JJ (16bb). The board runs out QT6AK and I am out. I took the exit very personally.
I was moody and petulant. I didn’t like that. After a while I composed myself and wished everyone well, in particular the man who beat me.
I finished in 1664th-place for $1,800.
Dominik Nitsche Feedback: It happens to all of us! Busting big poker tournaments hurts. In this hand obviously there is nothing you can do. Nice run Lee.