Here's the latest installment of the Club Poker Interview. Gaëlle Jaudon, the gossip girl from Club Poker Radio, spent some time with George Danzer in Las Vegas this summer during the WSOP. She asked Danzer about a lot of different topics including how he preps from the WSOP grind, his recent jump into the world of Hearthstone, and why Germans are crushing SHR events. This interview originally appeared on our French parent site.
Gaëlle JAUDON: You're German but you were born in Brazil. Tell us more about your family history?
GEORGE DANZER: My mother is Brazilian and I was born in San Paolo. It's a really nice city, but a really crazy city. I like it a lot there. I'm gonna visit this year. I used to go to Brazil every 4-5 years. I grew up in Portugal and lived there 8 years. Since it is way closer by plane, we meet up with (my mother's) family usually in Portugal. Today, I live in Salzburg, Austria.
GD: Ah, yeah…that's the main reason. When you discover a new game, first you learn the rules really quick but it takes a slow time to really learn the game. You reach a point when you learned a lot, but you're only improving by little steps. If I still like the game and it's profitable, then I keep working on it. But I always look for new variations, find a new game online and try to master it very quickly to gain an advantage. It comes at a cost, though and my NL Hold'em and Omaha games suffer because you can't train 20+ hours a day. When you have to choose and focus on something, then you lack the time to stay sharp in other games.
GJ: And what is your favorite (mixed game) today?
GJ: How do you get ready for WSOP? Do you play mixed games?
GD: I play some cash games. I also watch the videos that I recorded last year from the WCOOP and SCOOP, to get back in the groove of these (mixed) games and then I just grind all of SCOOP. This is the best training for WSOP. I prepare my game before and then try to perfect it during SCOOP. You see the same situations you're gonna have during WSOP, because the field and the tournament structure is almost the same. You monitor how good your game is running during the SCOOP. You go deep, you're gonna be short a lot, and you made it to a final table. All those situations are already in the back of your brain before WSOP and it's just perfect training. Having a good SCOOP is usually a very good sign for what my WSOP will be.
GJ: Do you think that mixed games players have a different mindset than hold'em players? How is the thinking different?
GD: I don't think so. I think every NLHE player can become a mixed game player, just a lot of people don't put the work in it because they already put in a lot of work with the NL, where you always have to work in your game, so instead they specialize. But I think every player can easily make a transition to other games.
GJ: It was a real achievement for you to win the 2014 WSOP Player of the Year. What did that feel like? How important was it for you to win it?
GD: Yeah, 2014 was the best year. When I won the POY title I was actually in Australia. It wasn't exactly a lock, so it was really really close. It came down to the last tournament we played, so it was a big relief to finally win. I was really happy, you don't get that many chance to win a POY title like that. You have to be really good from the beginning and grind all the points by playing a lot (of events) and even then you still might lose. I really got lucky at the end. But 2014? I'm not gonna forget that year!
GJ: What is the key? How do you choose which mixed games to play?
GD: It's just random. At the beginning of the year, I look at the schedule and see what I like. For example in 2014 I was specialized in HU NL SNGs and 6-max SNGs, so it was a totally different thing, which had nothing to do with mixed games. I played several thousand SNGs early in the year because I decided I wanted to be a better heads-up player. After two months of work playing HU SNGs, I did the same for 6-max SNGs. In 2015, PLO was my main game, so I played a lot on Zoom on PokerStars just to get in a lot of hands and situations… to get my game back. This year in 2016, I was all over different games. Perhaps I will play more fancy games next year because I want to play live cash game more and there is Badugi, Badeucy, Razzdeucy, etc. Those are variations that you don't see too often so I'm gonna study the math on those particular games for next year.
GJ: You won an award for best poker ambassador. What does that mean to you? What makes a great ambassador for poker?
GD: You have to really love the game. That's the easy part. Just have respect for all the players, no matter if it's a pro or an amateur. You have to respect how they play no matter if you like it or not. You might think they play really bad but you have to respect the player who put up same money to play against you.
GJ: You're deeply involved in the poker community in general, with the Global Poker Masters, the GPL, and Twitch. What motivates you? Do you think as an important part of the community that you have to share something and give back?
GD: Absolutely. In the bigger picture, the German community is quite involved in everything. We have the right mindset to play poker and we all enjoy the game. We try to be as good as possible but still respect other players. We like being a part of the community. There are many players who don't like the community that's okay. They don't have to. We do it because we really enjoy it. It´s a different approach of the game, but both sides are right.
GJ: You use Twitch a lot, what do you like most about this newest innovation?
GD: A big part of my Twitch feed is trying to educate people and give some advice on how they can approach the game. I'm not a teacher. And the games I play like Hearthsone, I'm not good enough to be an actual authority, so it's more about having the right mindset and having a solid approach. And when you're alone at home for long sessions, Twitch allows you to feel better by sharing with other people. Sure, it's more work because you have to organize everything, but it's totally worth it because people give you a lot of feedback and interaction in return.
GJ: I know you're a big Hearthstone player on Twitch. Can you explain the appeal for poker players and Hearthstone?
GD: It's also a card game, but a collectible card game similar to Magic: The Gathering, where you have to take cards and battle your opponent. There is a lot of strategy, but it still easier than NLHE! Hearthstone is easy to learn and games are short only lasting 5-10 minutes so you can just play them between your tournaments. It's just fun. It's more something to do to relax. It's simpler. You don't play for money, just for points, but it is still very competitive and fun.
GJ: What is your take on people who think “Twitch is bad for poker” because it reveals more skills to people?
GD: They're completely wrong! If you give something away on Twitch, someone else will also reveal something different, so you're also are going to learn. If we all Twitch, then we can all be better. You will gain something in return, so I think this argument is very wrong. Twitch can help everyone.
GJ: PokerStars reduced their roster of team pros team over the last couple of years, but you're still here! What do you think helped you to stay in the mix as a Team pro? And what makes a good pro?
GD: I think winning Player of the Year (in 2014) was not a bad thing! (Laughs) It helped with the contract negotiation. PokerStars sponsors a bunch of players in every country and in Germany I'm well known now so people respect my game. Plus the combination with all the others stuff I do like GPL and Twitch is an added advantage. I'm very open with people and I always talk with poker media and journalists. I do many (good) things for the game so it definitely helps me represent PokerStars.
GJ: German players are among the most successful players in the international poker community. Seems like German players are very tightknit and everyone is friends with each other. German pros have been crushing events all over the world and dominating Super High Roller events. How do you explain that?
GD: It's a combination of the mathematical education we get (as students) and our mentality. We are quite calm – not always, but most of the time. We seem more relaxed and we don't tilt easily, which is usually the biggest problem for players. In average, players from Latin countries and Americans seem to tilt more. Also, German players are really close. There are small groups that are very tight, but overall the larger German community is also very close to each other. It's where everybody comes together and shares ideas, and maybe buy pieces of each other. It's really a special and active community.
GJ: The big talk this summer at the WSOP was the crazy prop bet between Jason Mercier and Vanessa Selbst. What do you think of those kinds of bracelet best? Do you make prop bets or bracelet bets on yourself?
GD: I wouldn't make a bet with such insane odds like they did (180-1). Sometimes I can make a bet for 45-1 or 50-1 when I think it really worth it, but usually I don't do ego bets. I can do like $10K bet, or equivalent for the entry fee to the tournament but not really much more. If I make prop bets, it has to stay fun. I would never bet an amount that could change my bankroll completely. I treat (prop) bets like I treat tournament buy-ins with serious bankroll management. I like to make small wagers when I want to sweat something like a sporting event, but even then I will never go crazy with sports bets.
GJ: I heard you created a business?
GD: Yeah, I do some programing so I created a website for our Hearthstone team. We have an eSport team and people started to get really involved in that. It was a lot of work to do the website and find funding. Now, everything is ready and we got a sponsor, so it is really working well. I hope we will have a playback option soon so we can show how we play, and we guide people etc.
GJ: What is your best poker memory?
GD: Definitely winning the 2014 WSOP Player of the Year! I remember that night exactly. I was in Australia and wanted to go into a club with my friends but they didn't wanted to let me in because I was overdressed! Usually you get turned away for being underdressed, but that club was a hipster place and I wore classy jacket and shiny shoes. I looked way too classy for their lowbrow hipster tastes. So I was walked around trying to find a store, but everything was closed and finally I saw a guy with a cool jacket and I offered him to exchange jackets. He had a job interview the next day so he was happy to do it. With my new jacket, they finally they let me go in the club! I still have that jacket! It was really a crazy day, but I was so happy to win that POY tittle.
GJ: And what is your worst memory? Did you ever though of quitting?
GD: Probably the 2006 WSOP Main Event was my worst moment. I was really deep in Main Event. Poker was crazy at that time and I had a succession of ugly bad beats All day long, I got sucked out three consecutive time and two of them were filmed on ESPN. I got really depressed then, but I think it finally helped me to become a better player. A lot of young players become really rich quickly and get crazy, because they have problems handling it and they exhibit poor bankroll management. They win when they're too young to win and get cocky and don't study their game enough. I was grinding since I was 15-years old, but I finally had more time to mature. If I had made the final table back in 2006 and won the WSOP, we don't know what would have happened and how would have I evolved. I don't necessarily think it would have turned out for the better. I like who I am now, so it would have been different. We all think of quitting poker sometimes, especially when you have bad moments. Every time I thought about quitting, I won something big soon after and it pushed me back into the game. So, I still love this game a lot.
GJ: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
GD: I won't travel too much, maybe just a couple of EPTs like the nice ones in Barcelona and Prague. I'm flying to Brazil this year for their WSOP in November, which should be really great. After grinding the WSOP in Vegas, I always need a month off because it takes a lot of energy and focus playing three months straight with the EPT Monaco, SCOOP, and the WSOP. So when that's all done, I need to relax before I return to the online grind. The rest of the year is always much slower, but the though path begins in April/May with the EPT Monaco.
GJ: Final question! You're quite famous for your hairstyle. Do you always likes to have fancy haircut?
GD: Not really. I always had the very boring emo cut in fact with semi long hair on the side on the head. About three years ago I changed it to a mohawk and it's been stuck on my head ever since! I really like it, sometimes I change it a little bit but it's always a mohawk! I think you still gonna see me like that for a while, with a slightly different mohawk every tournament!
This interview originally appeared in French. Read it here.