With EPT Prague coming up in just a few weeks, we got a chance to catch up with one of its past main event champions. Now 28 years old and living in Vienna, German pro Martin Finger talked to us about the new High Roller Club schedule, returning to the site of the 2011 victory that started everything for him, and the upcoming PokerStars Players NL Championship.
PokerStars Blog: Let’s start with the new High Roller Club, Martin. How do you like the new schedule?
Martin: Not every tournament is new — there’s the $530 Bounty Builder, for example. But Stars did a good job with the new $1K tournaments. These tournaments are really nice, they have a solid structure and you can really play poker. And the new High Roller Series also motivates me to play on days like Wednesday, where the money on offer was far lower before. These tournaments are just a lot of fun.
PS Blog: But the competition is much stronger in these fields.
Martin: Of course, the fields are really tough, but on the other hand they’re also much smaller. With 2,000 players you win very rarely. In tournaments with 200 players you reach the final table or a top-3 place more often. You can also collect reads and make certain exploits because you keep playing against the same players. These games are very competitive and that’s a good thing. It’s similar to the live high rollers.
High roller reg (and 2011 EPT Prague champ) Martin Finger
PS Blog: So, your focus is really on the high roller tournaments? Or do you play lower buy-ins as well?
Martin: To be honest, this is a daily conflict for me. In theory, I’m a big fan of it. In practice, it’s a constant struggle with myself for ten years now. Sometimes I play tournaments like The Bigger $33, because I think it’s good money for sure. But many times the result is that I play too many tables and I’m not focused enough. Or I’ll fight with myself over whether I’ll watch a TV series on the second screen or not. Then I change my opinion every five minutes: “Come on, start a series.” “No, you just told yourself that you want to concentrate on the game!” And so on and so on. You can get out a significant EV by really playing only the four or five high rollers and fully focusing. It’s best to darken the room and put on the headphones to be absolutely ‘In The Zone’.
PS Blog: And how did you manage it in the last week, which was incredibly succesful?
Martin: Actually, I only played the high rollers. And as I already said, on this level, which is so competitive, good preparation and focus makes the difference.
PS Blog: Speaking of staying competitive, how much time do you put into studying theory?
Martin: Right now I’m trying to find the perfect balance between play and study. For me theory is not fun at all, but when that hard work pays off it’s very special. And life is always better when you’re winning. Maybe four or five years ago it was different, but today it’s like chess: it just doesn’t work without theory. Especially online.
PS Blog: Let’s change the topic. What are your plans for the next month? Are you going to play EPT Prague?
Martin: Yes, for sure. Last year I had to cancel Prague, but this year I’m very excited to play. Seven years ago everything started for me in Prague and the Shamballa bracelet, which I got for the EPT Main Event win, still means a lot to me. It reminds me how my life has changed through this success.
PS Blog: And the Players Championship in January?
Martin: Last time I played the PCA was in 2016, but this time with the Players Championship it’s a ‘must play’ event. Because of the the Platinum Pass promotion and the $1 million added for the title you can’t miss that in any case. The PCA has always been soft because the location in the Bahamas has always attracted many recreational players from the United States. And due to the Platinum Pass promotion this will be the softest $25K tourney ever. I don’t know anybody from my poker friends who is going to skip the Bahamas this time, and I’m pretty sure the numbers of players will explode in comparison to recent years.
PS Blog: But your trip doesn’t end with the PCA.
Martin: That’s right. After the PCA I gonna fly to Melbourne, where my girlfriend lives. Of course I play the Aussie Millions but after that we fly to Auckland to visit David Yan and celebrate his wedding.