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WSOP Q and A -- Nelly

The Rap Star Talks About Finding His Poker Game at the Tables



Rap star Nelly has developed a passion for poker. He traveled to Monte Carlo to play in the PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final last month, and then stayed in Monaco for a few days to play in various side tournaments after he busted out of the Grand Final. Nelly was also one of 6,012 contestants who bought into event No. 4 ($1,000 no-limit hold’em) this past weekend at the World Series of Poker.

Card Player caught up with Nelly in the Amazon Room and he talked about finding his game, as well as how his fame affects his table image.

Ryan Lucchesi: We saw you at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo recently and now you’re here at the World Series of Poker in one of the first events. Have you really caught the poker bug and now want to test yourself in some large tournaments?

Nelly: I just want to have some fun. I play a lot of cash games, but I don’t really get a chance to play tournaments. I went to Monte Carlo courtesy of PokerStars, and it was a good experience. I’m just really trying to see what’s going on.

RL: Are you going to play multiples events at the World Series or just take it as it comes with your schedule?

Nelly: Kind of take it as it comes, and see what the schedules do. I’m out here recording my album right now, so I thought I would take a day off and see what happens. Hopefully I can take a couple of days off because I keep moving in the tournament, so we’ll see what happens.

RL: What’s the biggest difference you have noticed in these tournaments from your cash-game experience?

Nelly: Cash games are different, you meet a lot of aggressive players in cash games, and everybody is more patient when it comes to tournaments. You can’t rebuy [laughs]. I think the biggest thing is trying to balance it out.

RL: Do you find that players give you more action or play you differently because of your fame?

Nelly: It depends, it works back and forth. Sometimes people want to call you a lot, sometimes people give you respect because of who you are. A lot of times it works against you, but you’ve got to see who is playing and try to use it to your advantage. If everybody is calling you, then you try to make sure you have it, and if everybody is giving you respect, you try to make sure you take down as much as possible.

RL: Which professional players do you respect for their game? Have any top guys given you some tips at your first major events?

Nelly: I don’t really ask for tips or anything like that; I’m kind of a fill-it-out-as-you-go, take-your-lumps-as-you-go type of guy. I do appreciate the top guys like Daniel [Negreanu], Phil Ivey, and Hellmuth. I watch poker on TV, and you try to take a little bit of everybody’s game and implement it into yours. Because if there was one particular way that worked, then that person would win all of the time, you know what I’m saying? So, you just try to find a balance and use what you can.

RL: So would you agree that each person has to find their own poker game during hours at the table?

Nelly: Definitely, everybody has to find their own style of play. That’s what makes all of the pros individuals, because all of their styles are different, you know, but it works for them. It may not work all of the time, but as long as it works for you, that’s the main thing.