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Generation Next - Daniel Hirleman Confesses: ‘I’m a Super Nit’

Generation Next - Daniel Hirleman Confesses: ‘I’m a Super Nit’

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: May 06, 2011


Sticks and stones may break Daniel Hirleman’s bones, but words will never hurt him. It’s true. Hurl what some believe to be one of the vilest three-letter words in poker at him — nit — and he beams like a small child receiving a shiny gold star on a report card. A nit is a player who is defined as playing a very tight game, selecting only premium hands with which to enter a pot or risk his tournament life. But that’s not Hirleman’s game. Where he’s tight and extremely conservative is in managing his money and his precious poker bankroll.

When Hirleman first ventured online to play poker while attending pharmacy school in 2007, he devised a tight-budget buy-in plan. He had seen friends and good players lose their bankrolls, only to have to move down in stakes or, even worse, start over from scratch. Taking shots and playing stakes for which he wasn’t bankrolled was against the code of the nit. So, having a tight buy-in system for his game served Hirleman well from the outset. He never wanted to be in the position of being broke and having to pursue backers, who would take a good portion of any profits that he would make each month, and to date, he never has.

“I never wanted to be staked,” said Hirleman. “I’m probably one of the biggest bankroll nits you’ll ever meet. I just don’t have a ton of gamble in me like many players do. I began by playing sit-and-gos. I made sure that I had 200 buy-ins for the stakes I was playing, and when I switched to multitable tournaments, I made sure that I had 500 buy-ins. You won’t find anybody else but me who will admit that. Yes, I’m a super nit.”

Over the last two years, Hirleman has moved away from playing his bread-and-butter sit-and-gos to tackle the multitable-tournament arena. In February of this year, he cashed for about $200,000 in a 30-day period. He began the month by finishing fifth, for $40,035, in the PokerStars $215 Sunday Warm-Up event; a few weeks later, he took second in a Full Tilt Poker $30 Mini-FTOPS event, for $116,416, and then won a Full Tilt Poker $150 event, for $39,317, on the same day.

Hirleman’s nitty approach to money management obviously works well for him, because to date, he has more than $1 million in career tournament cashes. So, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. With that kind of success, Hirleman has no plans of changing a thing.

Craig Tapscott: Are you kidding me? You wanted 200 buy-ins banked before moving up in stakes in SNGs [sit-and-gos]? You must be the king of nits.

Daniel Hirleman: [Laughing] I wanted to make sure that I was winning at each stakes level, and then move up.

CT: At what stakes did you begin?

DH: I started playing $10 SNGs and worked up from playing two tables to four, and so on. I would play 1,000 of them, and then finally move up. I eventually worked my way up to $100 SNGs.

CT: What’s the major hurdle for SNG players when they switch to multitable tournaments?

DH: You need to learn how to play with deeper stacks. In SNGs, you get a push-fold resteal stack within 15 minutes. I’ve worked the hardest on my deep-stack game.

CT: So, how are you going about working on playing when deep-stacked?

DH: I’m learning from my friends who play cash games, and I watch cash-game videos at training sites.

CT: It seems like your game has shifted into a different gear this year. What’s been the key to your success?

DH: This year, my goal was to play a lot more. I kind of slacked off at the end of last year, and this year I had a plan to take it more seriously. That is one of the biggest things, to really approach the game as a professional. Now, I make sure that I’m focused every time I sit down to play, and am not just going through the motions. That has made the biggest difference for me, as I don’t think I have changed up my basic game a ton.

CT: How did you get started in poker?

DH: I played in pharmacy school after I graduated from college. Poker was a hobby. But then, I started beating all of my friends at the school games every other week. So, I took that money online and did pretty well. After six months, I quit my pharmacy job and moved over to poker full time.

CT: Congrats on your hard-earned success. I’m sure that the Super Nit Hall of Fame is right around the corner.

DH: Thanks [laughing]. Being inducted into the Nit Hall of Fame would be a great honor. I can only hope and dream that it comes true one day. ♠