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When I Was A Donk: With Nick Petrangelo

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Jan 31, 2018

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Nick PetrangeloIn this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Nick Petrangelo came out of nowhere in 2015 to dominate on the high roller circuit, and has since gone on to amass more than $9.5 million in live tournament earnings. The poker pro from Massachusetts broke out with a second-place finish in the $100,000 buy-in Five Diamond World Poker Classic high roller for more than $1 million.

In 2017 alone, he finished second in PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 high roller for $740,032, won the Aussie Millions $100,000 high roller for $665,734, and also took down the $25,000 PokerStars WCOOP high roller for another $624,676.

Here, Petrangelo talks about learning when to pull the trigger.

“I think when I first started playing, I thought that being table captain, and being the loosest and most aggressive player, is what made the best player. That obviously worked some of the time, but I later realized just how big of a leak it was.”

“For example, late in a tournament, I thought it was smart and aggressive to open bad hands from early position because it would look stronger and make it easier to steal the blinds. Of course, you just can’t make up for the fact that there’s seven or eight players that still have to act behind you. They could wake up with a decent hand, or just decide to not respect your raise from early position. Either way, if you have A-4 offsuit in those spots, it’s going to be tough to continue.”

“One big mistake I made does stands out. I was playing in an online $10,000 tournament back in 2012, and first place was something like $600,000, which was a big deal for me at the time. Martin Jacobson and I had all the chips with two tables left. This was back in the day when people where just clicking buttons preflop like crazy.”

“I opened A-K offsuit, he three-bet, I four-bet, he five-bet, I shoved, and he called. He actually had pocket jacks, which is crazy, but I look at it now, and I should have played the hand differently. Nowadays, when you are that deep in a tournament, you don’t just fling it all-in with five, six bets against the other good player with chips at the table.”

“So that was definitely a punt… one that sticks with me for whatever reason. But, you also still have to pull the trigger from time to time. Especially now that everything has unlimited re-entry, you need to have some of these really thin, aggressive bluffs in your range. When they don’t work, you just get right back in line to try again.”♠