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Online Poker: Interview With Nick 'Gbmantis' Niergarth

Gbmantis Talks About His Recent Final Table at the Sunday Million and What it Took to Get There

Nick 'gbmantis' NiergarthNick "gbmantis" Niergarth, a 22-year-old poker player from Waukesha, Wisconsin, is not a new face to either the online poker community or to competitive sports, in general (he played golf on his college's team). He has been making big finishes in the online poker realm for a few years, now, and players who know anything know to be wary while he's at their table.

Niergarth is one of the few noble online poker pros who is pulling double duty as both poker pro and student. He is in his fifth year in college studying business management, and he's got one year left before he has to make the decision whether or not to stay the course with poker or venture off into a career more reliant on his degree. At this point, however, he doesn't plan to immediately enter the work force after college. He's hoping to make enough money playing poker that he can start his own business, and his degree is something that he wants to get "just in case."

Niergarth started playing online poker by playing in $5 sit-and-gos, and he says he "beat them up pretty good," and just went from there. Since that time, he's taken down or finished deep in numerous high-profile online tournaments, including coming in third place in last weekend's Sunday Million on PokerStars.

Card Player got with Niergarth to talk about that deep finish in the Sunday Million, what it took to get there, and what his favorite move is in poker:

Shawn Patrick Green:
Rumor is, you had been in a bit of a cold streak, recently, is that right?

Nick "gbmantis" Niergarth: I wouldn't call it a cold streak. I've been playing a lot on a different account. I haven't been playing on gbmantis as much. I'm not multi-accounting or anything, I'm just using a different account and playing on UltimateBet and Bodog. I wouldn't say that I'm on a cold streak, I've just been playing a lot of sit-and-gos and stuff.

SPG: I think we can safely assume that, with your incredible third-place finish at the Sunday Million last Sunday, any rumors of a cold streak have been quashed. How did it feel to quash the rumors in such a big-deal tournament?

NN: You know, it obviously felt good, but I wasn't super, super hyped for it. I don't know how to explain it. I had won a $50 freezeout earlier in the day for like $15K or $17K, so I kind of had an "I've got nothing to lose" attitude; no matter what, it was going to be a big day. To go deep in a tournament like the Sunday Million was obviously great. I felt confident. I tried to take it one hand at a time. I'd been there before; I had taken fourth in it about a year and a half ago and I've won other large tournaments, so I thought I kept my composure pretty well. I thought I had a good chance at going deep in it and winning it. I try not to get too excited.

SPG: What got you to that final table?

NN: You know, I played pretty solidly for most of the tournament. I think when blinds were 1,000-2,000, I went on a streak when I won eight hands in a row or something like that. A lot of times, I'm a really loose-aggressive player, but throughout the tournament, table dynamics were set up where it was a pretty unique situation. I thought I needed to play tightly, and then on the final table I loosened up a little bit and did some re-steals and whatnot. For probably 95 percent of the tournament, I played tighter than I usually do.

SPG: You've also taken down the Bodog $100,000-guaranteed tournament this year. How do the players on Bodog compare to those on PokerStars or Full Tilt?

NN: I've taken down that tournament twice, actually. There was one other time a little more than a year ago. The structure is a little different; It starts you out with the blinds smaller, I think. The players are pretty bad. It seems like early they're really loose; they're willing to stack off with like top pair for like 250 big blinds. And then later, with the antes, they fold way too much. You can get away with murder on that site. The blinds will be like 1,000-2,000 with a 100 ante, so that would be about 4K in the pot, and you can min-raise under the gun and everyone will fold, even though they're sometimes getting 3-1 on a call. They don't really understand pot odds or implied odds. A lot of them are sports bettors or they've won a satellite in. The field, overall, is very weak. There are probably 100 players in that tournament that know what they're doing.

SPG: How did you learn the game?

NN: Growing up, I played other card games. I played cribbage, euchre (which is a variation of spades), and I played a little chess. I don't think I actually played any Texas hold'em until I was 18. I probably played five-card draw for pennies, growing up, but nothing big until the [Chris] Moneymaker boom. I got in some poker games and I quickly learned how to make adjustments to beat those games. And then I bought Super/System [by Doyle Brunson], and that was pretty much the foundation of the early part of my poker career.

SPG: What is the most indispensable weapon in your arsenal?

NN: I'd say it's the ability to adjust, to be able to recognize situations and to see what my opponents are doing and evolve my strategy to counter that. I don't think that I necessarily have one weapon that I would consider indispensable, but I guess I'm really good at recognizing weakness and knowing how to exploit it.

SPG: You're particularly talkative at the tables. Does that ever help you in any way, or is it more for your own entertainment?

NN: You know, I used to be a lot more talkative at tables than I am now. I don't really say that much, these days. I had a six-month chat ban …

SPG: [Laughing] And that killed it?

NN: I kind of learned to be quiet.

SPG: [Laughs] How did you get the chat ban?

NN: I honestly don't remember. There was some string of expletives. It was well-deserved, but I don't remember exactly what I said.

SPG: What's your favorite move in poker right now?

NN: My favorite move would probably be the fold. In tourneys these days … actually, I'm going to say the open-limp. Especially in the $100 rebuy and the $200 rebuy, or the $1,000 freezeout tournaments, all of the bigger ones, especially late in the tournament, it seems like any time that you open-raise it's just going to get shoved on. Everyone in those tourneys is re-pop happy. I think it's better to just open-limp your hands, and if they raise you, you shove on them if you're strong enough. If you've got a speculative hand, you can call a raise and see a flop. Of, if it stays limped, I think I'm strong at playing limped pots, and a lot of players aren't that experienced in limped pots, because they're always raising or reraising. Hand values shift depending upon how much is in the pot preflop. So, a lot of them make mistakes in limped pots; a lot of times they'll just give up. I'll limp, and it'll be a three-way pot, and I'll just min-bet the flop for about a fourth of the pot (if there are antes), and they'll just fold. That's the way to chip up without risking quite as many chips. I've had pretty fair success doing that recently in the larger buy-in tourneys. But that's not a move that I'd use in a $100 freezeout or in a lot of rebuys, I'll only be doing that if I've got aggressive players on my left.

SPG: Well, you were beginning to say that your favorite move was the fold. What was your reasoning for that?

NN: I just think that in the tourney scene online these days, it just seems like no one ever folds - for me, at least; maybe my image is too loose. I've been tightening up a lot more lately. People really like to call down and make raises. I've tightened up preflop considerably. There are phases in a tournament when you can open up, but I've probably had a hole in my game where I was playing too loose for a while in multitable tournaments. I'm really focused on tightening things up considerably. I'm trying not to be a hero, I guess. When folding is the right play, I don't try to force it.

SPG: What are your leaks?

NN: Right now, I think I'm playing really good. I've worked hard on fixing my leaks; I have few to no leaks. I mean, I'm always trying to improve, but before, I was playing way too loose. I've been trying to plug that leak. Besides that, I can't think of any major leaks. I'm sure I probably have some that I don't know about, but if I knew them, they'd be fixed by now.

SPG: All right, thanks for doing this interview, Nick.
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