Interview With German Professional Heads Up SNG Player PlauZee

RyPac13 recently exchanged emails with PlauZee for the interview below.  PlauZee is a heads up sng poker professional from Germany.  He regularly plays on PokerStars at the $230+ levels under the handle "PlauZee."

For those that don't know much about you: You started playing poker in 2005, but didn't take it seriously until 2007 when you started playing heads up sngs.  Today you've achieved a lot of success, hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits, super nova elite status on PokerStars and a blog with thousands of visitors per month (   What were some of the most important things that you had to learn to get from where you were back in 2005 to where you are today?

Thanks for the introduction, Ryan.

When I started playing poker in 2005 at the 6 max cash tables, it was pretty easy to make a decent profit at  600NL and 1kNL.  But that was another time, and it became hard to accept that I wasn't able to beat those games anymore after taking a long break and returning.

When I finally found my game, heads up sngs, I guess it was the first time I played real poker.  I wasn't just trying to get hands paid off, I was playing my actual opponents and the game dynamics.  Once I finally realized this and began to understand how to truly play well, I climbed the ladder pretty fast.  It was great to realize how fast it's possible to improve in heads up sngs, but very hard to accept there are others who are better than you that you should probably avoid.

Once you have success at higher stakes you aren't satisfied with $10,000 months anymore.  I became greedy as almost every high stakes player does, but I'm glad I realized it pretty quickly.  Today, I'm very glad to play $230-570 levels and to "bumhunt" at the nosebleeds.  I know there are a lot of players out there that are better than me.  Once I accepted it, I started preferring to get a steady and healthy income, rather than the variance, swings and ego games that regularly happen in the nosebleeds.

It took me a long time until I was able to play $230s seriously after losing a $2,250 game just minutes before.  It sounds so easy to just switch to another stake, but it takes a lot of practice.

When did you realize that you were going to "make it" in heads up sngs?  Did you ever have any doubts?

When other regulars started to respect me at the $115 buyin level, I really felt I was able to make some pretty decent money.  And when I received my first big cash out, I was pretty sure that I was going to make it.

Every player has doubts from time to time though.  In some ways it's good to have doubts, to reflect on your own game, your abilities, mistakes, strengths and weaknesses.  But for other reasons it can be bad, like self-confidence.  I still have doubts from time to time, but of course not so much anymore that I would think about quitting the game just because of a losing streak.  I guess it's standard to have doubts.

What do you consider your greatest strengths to be in heads up poker?

I think my late game is probably the best part of my game.  I can read game dynamics pretty well and have some decent edge there against most players.  Besides that, my game selection is pretty good and fits perfectly to my own abilities.  I guess everything else is just standard and not even worth mentioning.

How about your weaknesses?  What are they and how do you improve them?

Tilt control and the way I treat fish in the chat.  I have played thousands of games, saw the ugliest of setups and beats already, but still feel a need to compensate bad feelings and semi-tilt in the chat box.  It was way worse months ago and I finally see a little improvement, but I still hate myself when I'm unfriendly in the chat to people I don't even know who pay my bills.  I should love them, especially when they are dumb enough to stick it in with 20% equity!  I ask myself how it is so hard to just be quiet and ask for another rematch.

Do you plan to stay with heads up sngs for the rest of 2011, or start branching into other game types seriously?

I will stay with HU SNGs for the year and probably reach Supernova Elite status again. The game and action changes a lot and quickly these days, so I will see if I can make it or not.

As long as I can enjoy the game and won’t see it as a job I’m fine with the extra income.

Speaking of future plans, let's talk about live poker.  Your first trip to Las Vegas in late 2010, you played your first live poker, then continued in January at the PCA in the Bahamas.  What other trips and plans do you have for 2011?  Can we expect to see you participating in live tournaments regularly? 

In 2011 I will definitely play some more live events.  I enjoyed the trip to the Bahamas a lot, especially meeting those guys I am friends with. I just booked a trip to Estrellas Poker Tour, Madrid, some days ago, will play the EPT Berlin, probably EPT Barcelona and can’t wait to party at Tao, Las Vegas, again.

Do you plan to do any traveling aside from the live poker related trips?

I love to travel a lot in general.  I lived in Taiwan for four months back when I traveled a lot, made a backpacking trip south in India, another in Cuba and was planning to do one in Japan this year.  The friend I am traveling with and I are not sure where we will go now, but we are thinking about a backpack trip through Vietnam or Laos and Cambodia.  Southeast Asia is just awesome, especially for backpack trips and I can't wait to get back on the road again.

You've mentioned that you plan to run a marathon this year.  What motivates you to attempt something like this?  Are you in good enough physical shape to do this?

I really hope I can do it.  Running a marathon was a goal I had some years ago, but I kind of forgot about it when I started playing poker more frequently.  When I chose my screenname, Plauzee, it is very similar to a German word for "beer belly."  I did this because I never wanted to become one of those fat poker nerds I saw on television.  Last year when I made 1.3 million VPPs, I didn't play enough sports.  I played a lot of poker during the nights, ate and drank whatever I wanted to and beefed up a lot.  I still wasn't fat like those guys I saw on television, but I started hating my physical shape enough to make running a marathon my goal for 2011. 

You've also been doing some charity work as well, with allin4kids.  What's the story behind the charity?

Allin4kids is a German charity founded and supported by two well known German poker professionals.  I started supporting the charity in October 2010 by donating 2% of my winnings.  Other than, most other supporters are German live MTT pros who donate 2% of their MTT winnings.  They have different projects running, mostly for kids in Cambodia and they are growing very fast in German speaking countries.  The charity also has plans to expand in other European countries as well.

Prop bets have been quite popular lately, whether it's monetary challenges or hu4rollz type grudges.  You recently talked about a prop bet between mtvdeuem and KnutFH on your blog.  KnutFH just won the bet, primarily due to a lack of motivation from mtvdeuem to finish.  But it looks like KnutFH had a strong showing in this bet with a 7% ROI over 500 games at the $115 turbos on PokerStars.  You've helped him in the past with some coaching and guidance.  How responsible are you for his success?  Do you plan to coach regularly?

The bet was a lot of fun, especially since it was with mtvdeuem, one of my closest poker buddies.  It was great to see how he and KnutFH started to take every single game very seriously, way more than normally.  That's probably the reason why both had such great results (Note: mtv was over 10% ROI when he gave up the bet less than halfway through).  I got in contact with KnutFH in November 2010 and started helping him by staking as well as coaching him.  He lived in the same city as I do and that made things much easier.  He played heads up sngs some years before, made some money at the $115s and already had some basic skills.  But he wasn't able to beat the $55 levels anymore, so we started working on his game, particularly the end game.  If you know some basic rules and patterns, it's the end game where you can improve faster and easier than any other situation in heads up sngs.  He learned very quickly and moved to the $115s within weeks where he started to make some decent money in early 2011.

On one hand he would've never played poker seriously again without my help.  But he also became my best horse and made me a lot of money.  In the end, we both benefited a lot from the deal we had and still have.  I don't think I would do the same with another player I don't know personally though.  Helping other players become regulars at the stakes that I play can become very unprofitable.  I've never taught anybody else in that way how to crush the $230+ levels and don't plan to do so in the future.  It became pretty hard to get action for me in the high stakes recently, so there's no reason to make that even worse.

Who are the heads up players you talk to most and what kind of value do you get from this?

I talk to a lot of other regulars in general.  I have some close friends, like treezer, mtvdeuem and fishenzon who I hope to meet up with again in the near future.  When I started writing my blog, one of the reasons I published my story was to tell others how serious I was planning to take my goals.  I started to talk with almost every heads up sng regular and quickly understood the importance of social contacts in a business where you need to get respect from others.  I talked a lot with treezer starting when we both played the $55 turbos in early 2010.  We both moved up pretty fast and could help each other a lot.  Not that I was ever able to reach his achievements or winnings, but at least I was able to climb the ladder as fast as he did.  It's great to have someone to discuss hands with and to motivate each other to keep crushing games all night.  Recently I spoke a lot with KnutFH about different spots and was able to improve my own game.  It's also very helpful to see other's views on hands, opponents, possible lines, etc.  I hope I can motivate myself to do some more regular discussions with friends in the future.  That's part of the real work of daily grinding.

Do you ever get into any wars with other regulars?

Sure, I've had some problems with other regulars.  It's kind of standard, you don't want to respect each other if one or both of you are new to the stake or are talking trash due to some tilt.  I never get into bigger problems or "wars" with other regs and still cancel rematches when I feel I don't have enough edge to make a decent hourly.

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule and best wishes for the rest of 2011.

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