Local boy Matthias Brandner is 22 years old and playing his first big money live tournament, yet he’s not nervous. Sitting down for your first €5,300 tournament should make you at least a little anxious, especially when you’re just into your twenties and a university student. Then again, Brandner isn’t your average uni student: he plays high stakes $50/$100 Badugi at PokerStars under the name “mati312” and last month joined the elite grinding crew of Team PokerStars Online. Though this may well be his first major live event, he has played big WCOOP and SCOOP events, not to mention having played many five-figure cash sessions.
It’s a few years since Brandner started out on the play money tables and parlayed that up into some big numbers. He decided to try out the real money micro-stakes tables and, as it would happen very profitably, thought he’d explore all the games that poker has to offer.
“When I landed at PokerStars I had a look around the lobby to see what other games exist,” said Brander, seated in the airy café inside just off the main tournament floor within the Hofburg Palace. “I found Badugi and that was actually the start point of doing something professional and getting into a game. Before that I was just playing for fun.
“That was when I was 20 and had finished school and moved to university,” he said. “In the beginning I started at the lowest stakes. I knew the rules but not much else. I thought, ‘Hey, this game is fun and pretty easy because the other players don’t really know what they’re doing either.’ I slowly ground up the stakes. Now, I play pretty high.”
That is somewhat of an understatement, and one that would leave most of his fellow university students with their eyes watering. He plays up to $100/$200 fixed limit Badugi under the name “mati312”. If you’re not sure what Badugi is then you can check out the rules to Badugi here. It’s a pretty fun draw variant. You never know, it might be your game, too.
Balancing his University of Vienna studies (Teaching with IT, philosophy and psychology) takes around 20 hours a week, more during exam periods, which leaves plenty of time to bash up the Badugi tables. Here are a couple of his top tips for both Badugi and his hometown (which should come in handy if you’re at EPT Vienna right now).
Brandner’s Badugi tips
1. Stop going to showdown: “Too many people go to showdown and call against the odds and pay people off. Going to showdown too often can be a big leak.”
2. Failing to value bet: “Many people don’t value bet enough and miss a lot of value, which is really a core aspect of Badugi.”
Although both of these issues are relevant to any form of fixed limit poker, there are apply more heavily to Badugi (so Brander says).
A local’s top Vienna tips
Brandner is Vienna born and bred so we asked for his must-see choice of where to go when, I mean ‘if’, you bust out of your tournament at EPT Vienna.
“The most important tourist attraction in Vienna is Prater,” said Brandner. “It’s a huge amusement park which is open pretty all year. There’s a big wheel which give you a perfect view of the city and the view at night is beautiful. It would be my recommendation to go see. It’s a lot of fun.”
It does look fun (if you like that kind of thing), which you can check out by clicking here. Also tipped up are Schwedenplatz and Wien Mitte, both for their bars and restaurants: “Those are very central places in Vienna where a lot of people meet together.”
Brandner may or may not end up being a star attarction here in his hometown come the final table, but when you’re got the experience of having had a $36,000 downswing within a week – as he did last summer – and you’re still a profitable player then you know there’s always another time.
“Eventually I made it back and the last two months have been really good. So far this year, I’m up a lot,” said Brandner smiling.