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Poker Tournament Trail -- Julien Nuijten

Nuijten Speaks About His Opponents as He Closes in on EPT Barcelona’s Final Table


Julien NuijtenWith only two tables left at the European Poker Tour, Julien Nuijten is causing a stir on the Spanish felt. Gradually increasing his stack to the “danger” level, the young Dutchman has become some of his opponents’ worst nightmare. With such an intense atmosphere, fueled by the many seasoned professionals and young hotshots gunning for gold, every move now could really make a difference as to where each player ends up in the money. Nuijten is calm, cool, and comfortable, and he spoke to Card Player as he attempted to make his way toward the final table.

Rebecca McAdam: How are things going for you at this stage with five more players to go?

Julien Nuijten: It’s going well. I’ve got a good stack. I’m feeling confident. It couldn’t be better, really.

RM: Were there many key hands that got you where you are now?

JN: There was one time yesterday when I was all in for my tournament life with A-Q against A-K, and I won that one. Ever since that, I don’t think I’ve been all in for my tournament life; I’m not entirely sure. It’s been a lot of post-flop play, the stacks are deep, and I like to play deep stacks whenever I can. Even if you’re kind of short here, you’re still playing 30 or 40 big blinds. So, the structure is really good, and I’m glad that I can see flops and actually play poker, instead of just raise-folding or raise-calling, and shoving.

RM: You seemed to get the better of Patrick Bueno a lot earlier in the day. Did you get inside his game?

JN: It might sound a little arrogant, but I think so. I played with him yesterday as well, and it was easy for me to see a pattern in his game; it was very predictable, like he’s aggressive anyway, but when you’re playing an aggressive game, you also have to bet marginal hands several streets for value in order to exploit your aggressive image, but he doesn’t do that. As a result, very often when he raises preflop, bets flop, turn, and river, or even flop and turn, he will have a very polarized range, he will have a great hand or nothing, and in his case, since he’s pretty loose preflop, it’s more often nothing than something.

RM: So, do you think that he’s aggressive, but if you’re aggressive back, he’s easily pushed out of the hand?

JN: Well, you get to push him out of hands when he’s betting, but you have to be careful when he bets the flop, checks the turn, and even when he checks the river. Like, for example, I saw a hand where the player under the gun raised — and the stacks were pretty deep at this point — the small blind calls, the big blind calls. The flop is JClub Suit 7Club Suit 6Club Suit. It goes check, check, and the preflop raiser bets, Patrick calls, the other guy folds. The turn is a 10, it goes check, check, and the river pairs the 6. [Bueno] checks, the guy thinks for a while and bets 90K, which is about half the pot, and [Bueno] just insta-calls and shows the second-nut flush that he flopped, which is really saying that he’s playing a lot of hands from behind, like trying to play small pots with big hands, whereas he should be trying to take advantage of his loose image.

RM: Is there anyone else here whose game you also think you have figured out?

JN: Well, the players that are at my table now, most of them are pretty good. There’s Mike McDonald, but he’s short. I mean, he will be a good short-stacker, but a good short-stacker is predictable, it’s just that the ranges are very wide, so you just have to gamble. The Finn guy to my left, Toni Ojala, he seems pretty tight, but he also knows what he’s doing. The other Finnish guy, Jens Kyllonen, he seems like he’s the best player at the table. So, against him, it’s very tricky, as we both know we’re capable of making very aggressive plays. He’s also loose, especially when he has chips in position, so against him it’s a very tough game.

It’s a mix of players, so right now I would say I have figured out Patrick’s game the most out of everyone I’ve played so far, but, I mean, it’s just a matter of time before I get more info, right?

RM: Have you got a strategy?

JN: I always approach every hand with an open mind. I guess I haven’t adopted a strategy. I like having a loose image, which I do, because people are used to playing against tight players, they know what to do against tight players, which means against loose players they have to change their game, and usually you have to play looser against loose players, except if they’re bad. If it’s a bad loose player, then you can just tighten up, play your hands, but I’m not a bad loose player, I’d like to think that I’m kind of a good player. So, they have to adapt to my playing style, and that means that you’re automatically putting them out of their comfort zone. They have to change their strategy, and that allows them to make a whole bunch of new mistakes.

RM: Although I don’t think there are very many bad players left.

JN: No, you’re right about that. Although, I mean, any player who doesn’t really play very much online might have trouble adapting to an aggressive player, because live tournament play tends to be pretty tight.

RM: What is your tournament experience? Have you gone deep in a similar major tournament before?

JN: I won the first LAPT, the one in Rio. Other than that, I’ve played a few tournaments, but I don’t think I ever even got a money finish in any big tournament that I’ve played, like an _EPT, and two other big tournaments, but that’s it. I mostly play online. Well, I used to anyway.

RM: Are you comfortable or are you feeling any pressure?

JN: I’m pretty comfortable. I think the other guys feel more pressure.