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Victor Ramdin Speaks
Victor, why don't we start by talking a bit about how this event is going for you so far?
Can't complain, I have a just below average chip stack but I'm happy to still be in it.
There's a ton of big names in this field. Being relatively new to the poker scene, how do you feel about playing against some of the best in the world?
Actually, I play much better against pros. To be honest with you, it's much more difficult to figure out what a rookie has sometimes because they make some calls that a pro wouldn't normally make. You can make a big move on a pro, you actually get a lot more respect somewhat, so yes, I like to play against big pros.
If we could talk a bit about your strategy as a player; you're so new to the game, and you've already done really well. What do you attribute your success to?
I've learned not to be a calling station. When I was starting, it was a big problem. Yes I'll be a calling station if I have position and I flop a big hand, but I've learned to be the aggressor in the hand whenever I'm involved. Whether I have something or nothing, I want to be the aggressor.
Has anyone in particular helped you in any small way to become a better player since you started?
Not in a small way at all, in a big, big way. Phil Ivey and I are very good friends, and I've learned so much from this gentleman it's unbelievable. Playing with him and giving me a few tips here and there, he doesn't usually do that but he has been a bit.
Great, I know you've done a lot of work with Guyana Watch (a group which provides medical assistance to the disadvantaged people of Ramdin's native Guyana), could you tell us a bit about the organization and what projects it's working on now?
Yes, this year we've decided to make a bit of a switch from what we normally do. What we've been doing for the last thirteen years is focusing really only on kids. The good news, the great news, is that they are going to have some facilities to take care of surgeries. So Guyana Watch is going to be going in a bit of a different direction and focusing on AIDS because about one in ten people have AIDS in our country right now, and we don't have a very big population, so it's very frightening. Also we're still going to focus on our annual outreach to poor people who can't afford medication or surgeries.
Now I know that your contribution to this group is more than just monetary, but what kind of personal involvement do you have with the group?
I've been one of the vice presidents of the organization, and I like to solicit a lot of help, that's why I'm here in the poker world. What I'm really trying to sell is the idea that Victor Ramdin alone can't do charity. There are so many other people who can get involved, and the more the merrier for the world, so I think if I can sell this message to every friend and every person I meet, the world can be a better place and will be a better place. Not everyone was born with a silver spoon in their mouth, so you should learn to dwell with the poor sometimes and help when you can.
What kind of success have you had spreading this message in the poker world? It seems like some of the players who have found success here weren't necessarily born in an advantaged situation, do you think this makes them more receptive to what you're trying to do?
Absolutely, you would be surprised by the number of guys who have come up to me in the last six months. I have a full team ready for next year. I might even have to kick some of them off because there's so many. (Laughs) Every year I want to take a new bunch of faces, just to go and help. Forget about the money part, the money will come, just to go and help and see and understand what it is to be poor and what it is to share your time and to give back. It's a great feeling.
That's great, thanks a lot for talking with us today and good luck in poker and in Guyana.
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Victor strikes me as a genuinely kind and compassionate man in poker and in life. When he speaks about the philanthropy that he's so committed to, he conveys his passion very well. Although it may sound corny, he is the kind of person we need more of in the world. It's wonderful that his poker success has allowed him to do the kind of work that has helped so many. Hopefully his dedication and achievements, both on and off the felt, will inspire others to follow suit, no pun intended.