Interview: Roland Specht
If you go to midwest Germany to play some poker, then you should watch out for Roland Specht. He has been a professional poker player for almost ten years and dominates any table he plays at. Michael Keiner, team captain of Team Germany at the Poker Nations Cup, calls him "Mr. Cool".
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PokerTips.org: When did you first play poker, and who introduced you to the game?
Roland Specht: A good friend of mine introduced me to poker in 1997. Since then I have been playing poker regularly.
PokerTips.org: How long have you played poker professionally?
Specht: Since 1998 I have played poker professionally, between 250 and 300 days per year.
PokerTips.org: What is poker to you? A job, a side job or just a hobby?
Specht: It is more a job than a hobby.
PokerTips.org: What did you do before you became a poker shark?
Specht: For a couple of years, I played professional or semi-professional table tennis in the first and second [German] national league. I also did a lot of freelance work in different business fields.
PokerTips.org: Do you prefer online poker or live poker?
Specht: Live poker, for sure. Because only when you play live poker do you use the whole spectrum of poker skills, like watching and analyzing your opponents by talking to them and trying to catch a tell.
PokerTips.org: What poker game do you generally play?
Specht: Omaha pot-limit €250 to €2,000 buy-in. In my opinion this is the most challenging and thrilling poker game of all, and you can play it in almost every casino in Germany and Europe.
PokerTips.org: Which is your favorite casino?
Specht: In Germany it is the Spielbank Wiesbaden, because it is one of the few casinos in Germany which is run professionally.
PokerTips.org: Do you have some general poker tips for our readers who want to visit a casino for the first time to play some poker?
Specht: Watch your bankroll and only play at tables with stakes that you can handle. Your bankroll has to be able to survive a couple of days of bad luck and bad cards.
PokerTips.org: What are the most common mistakes of your opponents?
Specht: To play and pay against the odds with a bad draw. To play similar situations always the same way instead of mixing it up. Also, a lot of players have bad time management. They play their bluffs too fast, for example.
PokerTips.org: How do you capitalize on these mistakes?
Specht: I try to remember similar situations from an earlier game and then use that experience against my opponent.
PokerTips.org: Are you interested in tournaments as well?
Specht: I do like to play tournaments, but only if the buy-in, the tournament field and the tournament structure is right. But 90% of my poker games are cash games.
PokerTips.org: How was it for you to play in front of the cameras at the 888.com Poker Nations Cup?
Specht: At the beginning I was a little nervous, but I think that is only normal. But after a few minutes my nervousness was gone, and that was important. After that it felt like a normal single-table tournament, with the only difference being that we all played in teams. So the gameplay was a little bit more passive.
PokerTips.org: How did you do in the tournament?
Specht: It went perfectly for me. I won my heat. In the final tournament (in which every country was able to exchange players), I took over 10,000 chips from Katja Thater and was able to gain an additional 20,000 chips, which I passed on to Michael Keiner, our team captain. I think we did pretty well.
PokerTips.org: How was the response in Germany after appearing on TV, representing Germany at the PNC?
Specht: The response was incredible and unexceptionally positive. I would have never thought that so many people in Germany watch and care for poker.
PokerTips.org: Is there a player you fear to play against?
Specht: I fear nobody, but I respect a few players (there is a big difference).
PokerTips.org: Do you think there is a difference between German poker players and poker players from other nations?
Specht: I do not think it matters from which nation you are from. I think age is a much bigger factor. For example Scandinavia has a lot of young players, who are unable to play live poker in their country and have to travel a lot. They play very aggressively. The older and more experienced players have more patience and play fewer hands. Both playing styles have their pros and cons.
PokerTips.org: What would you say was your biggest poker success?
Specht: My biggest success is that I have been dominating the cash games in a couple casinos for the last 9 years and that I have survived all the dry streaks.
PokerTips.org: What would you say helped you to become a successful poker player?
Specht: A little bit of talent, good mathematical skills, discipline and studiousness.
PokerTips.org: What tips can you provide to our readers, who want to improve their game?
Specht: Read a lot, play even more and listen to anything anybody has to say. When somebody is analyzing his game, then you can always learn something from it - even if you only learn to think like a bad player. Later on you might be able to use that against him or a similar bad player.