The Mega Path promotion on PokerStars continues to go very well for poker players from German-speaking countries. Last Sunday, Manuel Fritz became the first player from Austria to win the weekly final and secure himself a Platinum Pass to the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship (PSPC) 2020.

Fritz is a 24-year-old business administration student, who lives in Vienna in a shared apartment with fellow poker player Fedor Kruse. He first learned the game about six years ago, starting off with small tournaments in the local casino and online at PokerStars.

“When I was bored, I clicked a few sit & go’s online,” Fritz said, recalling the early days.

Fritz never expected that his life would change completely due to poker a few years later. But that’s exactly what happened…

Manuel Fritz, left, does battle with Alexander Ivarsson at EPT Barcelona

Robin Scherr (PokerStarsBlog.de): Hello Manuel. First of all, congratulations on the Platinum Pass. How does it feel a few days later?
Manuel Fritz: I’m mega happy about the win and I’m really looking forward to the event. I had the goal of working hard for 2020 anyway, and now, with the special tournament in August, you have something to work towards. It will also motivate me to sit down and work on my game. The PSPC is simply a cool event, both for recreationals, with so many opportunities to qualify, and for the pros to play such a huge tournament. And Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world. I go there every year for the EPT.

How many attempts did you need to get through the Mega Path promo?
I knew that there was this PSPC Mega Path and other ways to win the Platinum Pass, but I didn’t pursue it at all. A friend of mine started playing the steps almost two weeks ago and told me that they have good value, you should give them a try. We then agreed that we would play, and if someone gets the thing, we swap a few percent and share the hotel room.

I then played maybe 15 to 20 of the $2 Sit & Go’s, won three or four tickets for the $50 MTT, and played the first one on Saturday. The process was so strange. I late-regged about five minutes after the tournament started, and one player at the table already had ten times the starting stack. He open-jammed every hand. Thanks to that, I was able to double twice.

At the end, I was pretty sure I would get the $1K ticket, and I even folded aces against a 7BB jam. But it got really close. Suddenly I was sitting on the direct bubble with 0.1 BB in the small blind. I had queen-jack off-suit and everyone called the big blind. The flop came ace, king, three and suddenly the first limper bets one BB and everyone else folded. Of course, it’d possible that someone could fold a king or a three because everyone was short. In any case, he only had jack-ten and I won. There were three people all in on other tables and one of them bust. That was awesome.

Did you sweat less at the $1K weekly final on Sunday for the Platinum Pass?
I didn’t really want to play it on Sunday because that was also Main Event day in the Winter Series. But then I looked into the player pool again, it looked good, so I hopped in three or four minutes after the start.


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You told me that you only started to study poker more intensively two years ago, but at the same time that you want to complete your business studies. How do you juggle the two, and what are your specific goals in poker?
The weighting is definitely 50/50. I try to focus on both. Of course, in the exam phases you can’t focus too much on poker. But I definitely want to continue improvising my game, getting up in the stakes.

Is it primarily about money or is poker more of a passion?
Absolute passion, 100 percent. I have also developed incredibly as a person and learned a lot from poker — from lazy, partying students without big goals, to hard-working grinders, so to speak. I simply realised that you always have to stay on the ball to achieve certain things and that it is not the point of life to study and not try anything. Poker, for example, taught me that it is important to make active decisions and not to be dragged down by things that you cannot influence. For me, my results weren’t good for a long time, but I still made incredible progress. It is a long term game and like so many things in life you need patience, the rest comes by itself.

In February you are going to Thailand with a few friends. Is that the reward for your hard work?
Yes, we try to maintain that every year as a small tradition. February is free of study, last year we were in Mexico for four weeks, this time we’re going to Thailand. We want to see something of the world, go somewhere warm, and just hang out. We want to do something away from the tables, more focused on meeting people, having fun in real life.

And four weeks without poker isn’t too much?
Well, it was a little different last year, we spent three weeks grinding and then traveling the last ten days. This time, however, the focus is on vacation. Here and there we’ll play a cash game session, but no tournament grinds in front of the laptop for hours. We’ll be quite flexible and calm.


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Robin Scherr writes the German version of PokerStars Blog

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