András "probirs" Németh: It's hard to find a good criteria for success in poker
During this year's WSOPE, we got our hands on one of the most successful Hungarian players, who has been gathering success both live and online for many years. András Németh has titles from the Triton, WPT and EPT series on his live account, he is no less successful online, where he cashed millions of dollars under the nickname "probirs". Despite this, he lives an ordinary life and does not care for the attention of the media - what else did he reveal to us in the interview?
I caught you during the break of the WSOPE Main Event. How are you playing?
"It's a great tournament. I actually haven't been here (Kings) for a few years now, and there is a really big field of players in this tournament, which I think is different from other big tournaments. There are a lot of players from surrounding countries and that's a nice change. Now I have a good stack, something above average. The tournament also has a great structure, slow and well-playable."(editor's note - András finished the tournament in 56th place for €24,300).
As you say, this is a tournament with a large field of players. Do you prefer such tournaments or high rollers, where there are fewer opponents?
"It depends on several things. In the last year or two I started to prefer these big Main Events. It's harder to get deep through so many players though, and there's a high variance. But the competition here is not as strong as on high rollers. There have always been tough opponents, but it's perhaps a bit more difficult these days. High rollers tend to be quite stressful - when one makes even a small mistake, it is almost certain that the opponent will notice and punish it. In these big tournaments, small mistakes are often not noticed or acted upon by the opponents. So it's less stressful in that sense. On the other hand, a person can play for three days and only double their buy-in. When you build a big stack in a high roller, it's almost certain that you'll make it to the final table and pretty deep. It doesn't have to mean anything here. But even so, I enjoy these tournaments more since the last year. And it's motivating for me that I can win a big amount for a low buy-in. In a high roller, you can win maybe ten times for a high buy-in. And finally, just as high rollers are difficult, it is also difficult to earn from them in the long term. And when a person catches a long bad period, he can lose a lot of money."
How did you actually get into professional poker?
"I think it was fifteen or sixteen years ago. I'm forty now. There was a poker boom, a few years after Moneymkaer. Poker shows were broadcasted on European TV stations and basically all young people played, poker was very popular. So after the football we played every week, we also played poker. A few of us became more interested in it, started going to Hungarian poker clubs and gradually played online. It required completely different skills back then than it does now. I actually think about it a lot now.”
What did you do before you decided to play poker professionally?
"I worked in marketing for Hungarian Nike. I enjoyed it a lot, we sponsored famous athletes such as soccer players, swimmers... It was great. I resigned in November and my boss asked me to stay for another three months and train my successor. My bankroll at that time was about fourteen thousand dollars or euros, I don't remember. So I continued to work. And by the time I was done there, my bankroll was down to a thousand. I think I took too many risks, so it was a rough start. But then I started winning and that's how it started. That was at the turn of 2008 and 2009."
I read that the information about your online winnings was last made public in 2019 and then you had it hidden. Back then it was something like $17 million. How much has that amount grown since then?
"Yes, but that amount basically means nothing. I kept it hidden for a simple reason - people then assume that I was winning a lot and at the same time, for example, I played a lot of tournaments with a big buy-in at one time and I could easily be in the red. So I think it's my business how much I cash and I find it annoying that people can then have a very wrong view of it. It's hard to find a good measure of success in poker. I don't think the all time money list is a good measure of who is the best. So it's actually quite difficult to have a ranking of the best in poker."
Speaking of money, are you more driven by money or the desire to win and win titles at this point in poker?
"Well, at the moment I'm a father and I have a family, so I have to be driven by money as well. But I think the best players are always driven by passion for the game and the money will come along. So, if someone likes poker, is interested in it, plays a lot and thinks about it, then he can become really good. If someone only cares about money, it is very limited and unsustainable in the long term, in my opinion. I think for most it is both. In my opinion, you have to keep finding new and new motivation. When you find it, you can earn a lot of money at the same time. Of course, we live in a world where everything costs money - family, travel, housing. It cannot be said that I do not need the money.'
In terms of motivation, do you have any goals you would like to achieve? A bracelet, a title from some tournament...
"To be honest, I don't think I was among the best players in recent years. So right now my goal is to motivate myself and get back to the best. Or just get to the same level I was at years ago. Basically, the goal is to be consistent. Consistency, in my opinion, is the most valuable thing in poker. Those who have been playing for a long time and hold themselves to the same high level have my respect. So that's my goal now. Whether you win a tournament is sometimes out of your control, so setting a goal like winning the WSOPE for example... It would be great of course, I have Triton, multiple wins from high rollers, but I don't think it would make me a better player. But being consistent in your results is, in my opinion.
I understand, so that's your criteria to be satisfied with yourself.
,,Yes. And I think that recognition from other top players is also a sign that someone is a good player."
According to one website, you are quite protective of your privacy. You already mentioned the family, what else can you reveal to us?
"As far as this is concerned, I am such an ordinary person. I have a wife who is from Hungary and a two-year-old daughter. I devote most of my free time to them. I have a dog who is very active, so I have to attend to him as well. I've started running in the last few months, I've run a half marathon, and I want to continue that. I wouldn't say I don't like to talk about it, I'm actually quite proud of it. I'm really proud of my family, it's just that no one has ever really asked me about it. But they are very important to me, they motivate and support me."
During his career, he achieved several great achievements. Which title has the most value to you?
"I probably enjoyed winning the tournament at Triton the most. It was a truly exceptional experience. I met my good friend Laszlo Bujtas heads-up and it was the first Triton for both of us. And we immediately placed first and second. My wife and his girlfriend are also very good friends and they watched the whole thing together at home. It was really like a dream to win the first Triton I played."
When I was doing research about you on Google, I came across a tweet where you comment on Martin Kabhrel. Then you said that from your point of view he was just trying to have fun at the poker table. I don't want to focus on him specifically, but I gather from the fact that you like this kind of atmosphere at the table rather than boredom. Is that so?
"As for me, I play best when I'm social at the table. For example, when I'm withdrawn or angry, I get impatient and play worse. So I like fun at the table. It's actually one of the reasons why I prefer these Main Events over high rollers. Of course, I understand that if someone wants to be successful in high rollers, they have to take some time to think. But in short, I don't enjoy it that much anymore. So I rather enjoy being able to be sociable at the table, and the players aren't watching my every move so much."
From what I hear, it sounds like interacting with the players helps you take the pressure off the game.
"Yes, but when I have an important hand, I want to concentrate, not socialize. But in the meantime, yes. In poker, most of the important decisions are about folding, and it can happen that you don't play anything for twenty minutes. In the meantime, this is how I'm having fun. And when you communicate with the players at the table, you get to know them better, and you know, for example, who qualified for the tournament or who came from America and doesn't want to get out too soon."
Do you ever try to qualify, or do you always go directly to the tournament?
,,Yes! I haven't been doing so well in recent years and that's also one of the reasons why I don't play many high rollers now. And sometimes it's nice to try to get into a big tournament cheaper."
What are your next poker plans?
"I'm planning the EPT in Prague next. Nowadays there are many different and really good options - Bahamas, USA... I still play online too, but the rake has increased a lot in online poker in the last five years. So one really has to consider what options one has. I started working with VIP Grinders. They have probably the best deals of any site, and are very customer focused. So when I play online, I try to find the best deals.”
Is there anything you would like to add at the end?
"Thank you, it was a really pleasant conversation. I hope poker continues to be as fun as it is. Because I think it should always be fun first and foremost. Money is important, but I play best when I'm enjoying it."
Andras, thank you very much for the interview and good luck!