About the difference between playing poker and training other disciplines, how the tournament game differs from cash play and how to succeed in poker- interview with Dominik Pańka by Błażej Bulski.
Błażej Bulski: Interviews, banquets, autographs… that was one year ago. How is Dominik Pańka living today, when excitement wore off a bit -still being, according to most of Poles, the best poker player in Poland?
Dominik Pańka: I live a quiet, regular life. Every now and then I go to the EPT tournaments, the rest of time I’m in Warsaw.
Błażej Bulski: Our readers, not always well informed in poker, will surely be interested how did you achieve so much in such a young age? Since when do you play? When did you notice that you’re winning? How do you train?
Dominik Pańka: The difference between poker and other disciplines is that here you can achieve success more quickly. Mainly because there is a random element in poker and less experienced player can win a big tournament more with his luck than his technique. For example, in tennis you can’t win Australian Open after training two years. On the other hand, we can achieve higher skills faster it is hard to give the exact time, but depending on the bids, type of poker and commitment, a person who recently learned how to play after one year can win on regular basis.
I noticed I’m winning when the capital of the game was increasing- simple J. Besides, when we play on certain bids and we notice that we know what to do, we feel comfortable and the results confirm it- then we can say that we are over some bids. Training is the most important in early or middle stage of advancement – then we try using as much websites as possible- discussion foras about the best moves in a certain situation. We can also improve using professional programs that help us calmly analyze our moves after the game. There are also tutorial videos, where trainer explains his moves. Analyzing the moves with friends also helps- if we are at sufficient level, it can help the most.
Błażej Bulski: Tournaments on Caribbean were the reason you became known in Poland. But besides tournaments- how does your work day look like? You earn on poker or you just play because you have money to bet?
Dominik Pańka: I earn via poker- winning tournaments is my only income. They cover the costs of tournaments and trips and of course other expenses connected to playing and living.
Błażej Bulski: Online poker in Poland is illegal- let’s say it clearly. Particular authorities try totrack and prosecute players- like the last affair with the data stolen from GPI. Polish players to earn on online poker have to move abroad- what do you think about that? Maybe it’s not so bad?
Dominik Pańka: Significant majority of players ignores the playing prohibition, because it is hard to enforce, but they have to hide with it, and they can’t spend illegally earned money in Poland. It is a very disadvantageous situation for polish players- especially professionals, who earn significant sums. We wish for the changes in this area. There is truly no reason to forbid poker players playing in our country, and legalization would benefit the players and treasure trove.
Błażej Bulski: How do you think the legal situation concerning live and online poker in Poland should look like? And the taxes?
Dominik Pańka: I’m not an expert in lawmaking, but I think that the best solution would be taxing the operators on their activity and allowing the players to legally play and earn. Operators would agree on that, because they prefer to offer their games legally and have a right to advertise, instead of the way they are operating in Poland right now. Services are still available, because it’s hard to censor the internet, but it is unfortunately illegal.
Błażej Bulski: Poker players divide on those who prefer to play live and those who prefer to play online. There are also the enthusiasts of tournaments or cash games. It is said, that tournament games bring fame, but regular income comes from the cash games. What is your opinion on that? What are your stakes to play at?
Dominik Pańka: I was always a tournament player- I just prefer this type of game. Winning is possible in both ways. Income from the cash games is more regular- the variance is smaller (because of the random element it is natural that we lose money even though we play correctly) so when we win- we win less, but if we lose, we also lose less. In tournaments we can win bigger amount, but it is more rare- we often don’t win anything. But when we are a winning player, we will earn both ways. The game we choose is a matter of preference.
Błażej Bulski: How do you see your future in 5 and 10 years? Do you link your future with poker? After all, there is whole life to live.
Dominik Pańka: I think that I will play a bit and do a bit of something else, maybe some kind of business. I can also spend more time with my family.
Błażej Bulski: What would you advise to the young players who want to achieve something? What is the reason that not every player wins at poker? What is the sign that we should give up and find other activity?
Dominik Pańka: Never force it. If we want to play, we have to split the time we want to dedicate for poker more-less between learning and playing. We have to find the type of poker that suits us the most and search for tutorials online. First of all we can’t think like: “I want to start winning money”, “I want to earn millions”. We have to enjoy the game, to try making the best decisions and remember that the outcome of the deal doesn’t depend on us.
How many times I hear the players complaining about bad luck. Let’s focus on analyzing if we made the right decision- that’s all we can do. The truth is, good psyche is even more important than good poker skills. Everyone can learn the rules, but not everyone can accept its randomness ,derive pleasure from the game, reject financial expectations- it is especially hard for unexperienced player. That’s why players often quit the game- sometimes it is connected with losing all the capital.
Błażej Bulski: And lastly- what are your plans for this year? You will probably be on EPT. And WSOP? Will you have the first World Series of Poker’s wristband?
Dominik Pańka: I still don’t know if I will attend WSOP, for sure EPT on March and maybe April. What will be next- we’ll see.