Interview: Johannes Strassmann
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
Biggest Cash: €156,000
Best Known For: Making three EPT final tables in less than four months.
One of Germany's most talented young poker players, Johannes Strassmann, spoke with us this week about his blossoming poker career. In just a little more than the past year, he has pulled in over $350,000 in winnings from live poker tournaments as well as countless more dollars from high-stakes online cash games.
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PokerTips.org: Johannes, what got you interested in poker and how long have you been playing?
Strassmann: Before I played poker I was a more or less an ambitious Starcraft (an online strategy game) player. More and more successful Starcraft players, like Bertrand "ElkY" Grospieller, began to play real money online poker. When a friend of mine told me he made $10,000 in two months, I couldn't believe it! I figured poker was a game of luck and I couldn't believe he could make a profit in the long run. But I tried it anyway. After a $5 initial deposit, I never had to re-deposit. After my first week of online poker I knew I wanted to be a professional poker player for some time. The game is fun for me and I immediately realized its financial upside.
PokerTips.org: You have been on a tear lately. Just since December, you've made three EPT final tables as well as a final table at the Party Poker Million. To what do you attribute all of this success? Is your secret for sale?
Strassmann: I think I'm definitely running hot in tournaments right now. But I also think I have a strong game. My success could be attributed to a combination of the two. I'm just hungry for success and I'm very ambitious. I'm constantly working on my game and I'm hungry to get better.
PokerTips.org: One of the EPT final tables you made was the German Open in Dortmund where you finished 6th for €152,000. Did that result carry a special significance for you since it was held in your home country?
Strassmann: It was surely of great importance to do so well in my home country and of course I was hoping to win. I was under enormous pressure at the final table, which might have ultimately been a hindrance.
PokerTips.org: Do you stick to strictly tournaments or do you play cash games as well? If so, what stakes?
Strassmann: Online I mainly play heads-up and shorthanded cash games anywhere from $10-$20 up to $100-$200 no-limit. Cash games are just more fun for me, because online tournament buy-ins are so low and I prefer to play deep stacked poker.
PokerTips.org: What are some of your strengths that you feel are applicable to both online cash games as well as live tournaments?
Strassmann: I play tournaments very aggressively and I put my opponents under constant pressure, I also do that in online cash games too. I always try to control my opponents. I also have a good memory for hands and betting patterns and I'm good at noticing reads that I can use against my opponents. I'm very confident with my decisions at the poker table and when I'm playing my A-Game, nothing can tilt me.
PokerTips.org: Describe for us some of your weaknesses as a poker player.
Strassmann: Sometimes I play when I'm too tired or in bad physical or mental condition and I tilt a little bit. In cash games that can be expensive. Apart from that I don't take poker serious enough sometimes and oftentimes I'm not disciplined enough. There is still an unbelievable amount of stuff left for me to learn! Especially in non-hold'em variants.
PokerTips.org: What are some things you enjoy doing when you're not terrorizing people at the poker tables?
Strassmann: I enjoy playing sports. Right now, I'm doing Wing-Tsun (a fighting sport) and I try to do strength training as regularly as possible, although it can be hard because of the traveling associated with poker. In the past, I liked to play basketball or do track and field. I also try to spend as much time as possible with my friends and girlfriend. I love watching films and TV shows. The Sopranos, 24, and Dexter are some of my favorites.
PokerTips.org: What are your plans for the WSOP this year?
Strassmann: I plan to stay the whole six weeks in Las Vegas and to play as many tournaments as possible. I will do my best and will take the series very seriously .
PokerTips.org: Looking to the future, what are some goals you have for yourself with regards to poker?
Strassmann: My goal is to become one of the best cash game and tournament players in the world. It's important for me to learn the other poker variants as well, in case I play poker for a longer time. I'm constantly trying to get better!
PokerTips.org: Could you share with our readers a few tips that you feel have enabled your success in poker?
Strassmann: In poker, it's important for me to live a balanced life. Playing sports, doing stuff with friends and girlfriend, and living a healthy lifestyle. I think this is crucial for thinking better. I'm more concentrated and I can conceal bad beats easier. Apart from that, discipline and structured learning was important when I was trying to learn the basics.
PokerTips.org: Aside from yourself, who are some other young German players that you expect big things out of over the next year or two?
Strassmann: I think there are quite a few outstanding players. I'm primarily familiar with the European scene and would therefore name Europeans like Sören Kongsgaard and Trond Erik Eidsvig. In Canada and the United States, I'm very impressed by Isaac Baron and Mike McDonald. Sorel Mizzi is also very talented.
PokerTips.org: Is Strassmann a handicapper? What would you set as the over/under for number of participants in this year's WSOP Main Event?
Strassmann: Last year there were over 6,000 participants. I'm an optimist and would therefore say I expect over 7,000 participants at Main Event this year... let's hope for even more than that. The poker boom in Europe has just started and I think it hasn't reached its zenith yet.