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Raj Patel: Chasing History
While every player who bought into the WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic this week is chasing the nearly $1 million first-place prize, only one is chasing history.
Raj Patel won this very event last year and despite the fact he has made very little noise on the poker scene outside of Mashantucket, he's at it again here at Foxwoods. The end-of-Day 1 chip leader, Raj has either been in the lead or among the leaders the past two days as well and has a legitimate shot at becoming the first player in WPT history to go back to back.
Couple this with the fact we think Raj is a super-cool guy and PL.com decided it was time to sit and chat with the man himself. His English is not the best, but Patel was cordial enough to weave his way through a PL.com interview here on Day 3 in an effort to give us all a sense of what it's like trying to repeat.
So how's it going today Raj?
It's going good.
You are among the chip leaders. Have there been any particularly big hands?
Not really today.
How about throughout the tournament? It seems you're a playing a really laid-back style, waiting for people to hand you their money as opposed to pushing.
Yes that's right.
Is that your normal style of play?
Not really. I am usually aggressive, but not this week.
So Raj, you won this tournament last year. Why do you think you have so much success here at Foxwoods?
I don't know; just lucky I guess.
You started playing poker just a couple of years ago. How did you get your start in the game?
I had watched the game on TV. I started asking a few friends how to play and then I started coming here.
Right here to Foxwoods. Do you think that's why you've had so much success here?
Well, have you found any success outside of Foxwoods?
Yes, I played at Borgata [in Atlantic City] and I went deep, but I didn't make the money. I've been to Vegas a couple of times and that's about it. I played in the World Series and that was bad. It looked like it worked out good; I made three sets, but I lost all three hands.
I guess you really need the home cooking. You are from the area, correct?
Yes; from the Hartford area about 50 minutes away.
So are you here all the time playing cash games?
Yes - I play here a lot.
Do you play online at all?
No I don't play online, but I am going to start. I hate driving these days.
Outside of poker what do you do?
I'm in the hotel business. I have only two (hotels) now. I had seven or eight but I've sold it all.
And poker is just a hobby?
It was a hobby, but these days it's almost full time.
When you won this thing the first time it must have been a surprise that you could have so much success against so many top pros. In this second run you have to be feeling a lot more confident.
Yes, a lot more confident. But I have to prove myself. Some might say last year was a onetime shot, so I have to prove myself.
Well, having been among the chip leaders for three days you've certainly proved yourself, but there is an ultimate goal here right?
Yes, to win back to back.
Are you aware you would be the first person in WPT history to win the same tournament back to back?
Yes, that's the only reason I'm playing so calmly and not putting my chips in until I hit the board. I don't want to make a mistake because I have an opportunity to make history.
No doubt Raj; best of luck in that.
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Despite his less-than-wordy answers, we can tell you Patel is a genuinely nice guy. There are a lot of people rooting for him here at Foxwoods and for history's sake, the PL.com crew is now among them.