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Nick Schulman: Poker 'Is A Very Cliquey Community'

Poker Pro Talks About How The Game Has Changed Over Past Eight Years


Through the first half of the 2014 World Series of Poker, poker pro Nick Schulman recorded six cashes. Remarkably, all of them were top-20 finishes.

The two-time bracelet winner turns 30 this fall, but he already has eight-plus years of experience at the WSOP in Las Vegas. Card Player had the chance to speak with Schulman during a break in play in Monday’s $5,000 no-limit hold’em eight-max event to find out how it feels to be a veteran at the WSOP despite his young age, as well as how he has been doing so far this summer.

Brian Pempus: How are you feeling through the mid-way point of the Series?

Nick Schulman: I feel pretty good so far. I’ve been working pretty hard on my game. I’ve been focusing and trying my best. So far, so good. I haven’t reached my ultimate goal, which is to win a bracelet, but hopefully it is coming.

BP: Despite the lack of a third career bracelet, do you view a start like this as a success? Would you rather have one win and no other cashes?

NS: I’d rather have one win, but I certainly can’t say it has been disappointing. It’s not…I kind of measure the success of it against myself—how I am playing and how I am preparing. So, I think I am definitely putting my best foot forward at the table, and that’s certainly a success.

BP: You’ve been coming here for a number of years. Do you think you’ve reached a point in your career where you feel like one of the older guys, or one of the veterans, around the Rio?

Schulman at the 2006 WSOPNS: Kind of. I think it’s funny because this is the first year where a lot of people have been surprised that I am only 29. I’ve never really gotten that. A lot of guys have just sort of brought up what you are alluding to—just thinking that I am in my 30s. I am kind of a veteran. I have been coming here for a number of years. I sort of do feel that way.

BP: Is that an odd feeling?

NS: A little bit, a little bit. You know, once the cards are in the air, that’s really my main focus, but sometimes I think about it, and I mean, hey, every year I am a little bit older than that younger group of players.

BP: What is the biggest change to poker that has happened over your entire poker career?

NS: I would say that there is just more…some of these great young players who kind of run in packs, there’s a lot of very—I don’t mean this in a bad way—it’s kind of like high school. It’s a very cliquey community, where everybody is sort of sharing information. The game is continually growing because there is such a meeting of the minds. When I first started, before the training site boom, it wasn’t quite as much a sense of community. It’s almost like players are looking to grow together, and root for each other. It used to be, ‘I don’t want to be friends with other poker players.’ I kind of come from that school. I have sort of adapted, and it’s great. I don’t want to miss the train. I want to be growing as well, so it’s cool.

BP: Do you feel that as time has gone on your friend circle within poker has become more consolidated? Is that fair to say?

NS: It is fair to say. I mean, I’ve always been a pretty anti-social guy. I have a hard time in groups, and stuff like that. You know, definitely. I am open-minded, and I still have a few of my original, very close friends. You know, I still look at myself as predominantly a cash game player. I wouldn’t be playing all these tournaments this summer if I didn’t get off to such a good start. I am sort of in the hunt for some things. I have tasted those deep runs, and so I’m here. But, I’ve definitely branched out and become friends with some tournament players, not to mooch off of their abilities, but to be a little more sociable and part of the gang. It’s nice to have people with similar interests.

BP: Where are you playing the majority of your cash these days?

NS: At Bellagio. I have been living out [in Las Vegas] for the past two years. I pretty much play at Bellagio daily. You know, whenever there are games. That’s kind of what I do.

BP: What do you do in your down time, when the games aren’t running?

NS: I kick it with my girl. She’s got a little boy, so we hang out. I play a little pool here and there. My buddy ‘Johnny World’ and I go to the gym once a month (laughs), play a little Xbox. You know, that sort of thing.

BP: Is pool something that helps you unwind from a long poker session?

NS: It does. Sometimes even early in the morning I’ll go out there and kind of knock the balls around—throw some headphones on. It’s definitely relaxing for me.

BP: Do you get really competitive with your pool games anymore?

NS: Yes, I do (laughs). I just can’t help myself. Even when I go sometimes not to. Then I do. It’s just kind of how it goes for me.

BP: Do you ever put some pretty significant money on the line these days?

NS: Sometimes, yeah. Jean Robert-Bellande and I have sort of a regular match going that can get a little pricey sometimes for one of us (laughs).

BP: Do you have any plans for playing the $1 million buy-in event here at the WSOP?

NS: As of now, I am not playing it. I’m not too keen on playing it this year. I haven’t really done, I think, what I needed to do to get the wheels in motion for that. Nothing is impossible, though.

BP: Is that because it takes a lot of work to find the investors for it?

NS: Yeah, exactly. It’s kind of not my thing. I am not on Twitter or Facebook, so I don’t really reach out to people via social media, which is a great thing for something like this. I’d just have to send out texts. You know, quite a few people approached me about taking a piece, but, eh, I don’t know.



8 years ago

". I have tasted those deep runs, and so I’m here. But, I’ve definitely branched out and become friends with some tournament players, not to mooch off of their abilities, but to be a little more sociable and part of the gang. It’s nice to have people with similar interests.'

Sounds like he may retire soon