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The Schwartzenegger: Ralph Schwartz Rides H.O.R.S.E. While Bill Gazes
Another bracelet, another young upstart. This time it's Ralph Schwartz who took down $275,683 for besting 191 of his peers in Event 26, $5,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E.
Immediately after winning the bracelet, Ralph disappeared - deserting several interviewers in mid-roll. He must have a soft spot in his heart for PokerListings.com, however, who found him a few minutes later, friendly and eloquent.
So how does it feel?
It feels wonderful. It's been three days of hard work. It feels especially good because you have to play all the games really well, so it shows that I'm somewhat of a complete poker player.
It has been said that H.O.R.S.E. is the truest test of a poker player. Is that how you feel?
Somewhat - my background is mostly No-Limit Hold'em and Pot-Limit Omaha. I do play some Limit. I think toward the end when the blinds get really high - with the limit structure - people can get lucky, so in that respect it doesn't necessarily weed out the best player.
But, assuming certain blinds, I do think H.O.R.S.E. is probably the best format to determine the best players in the world.
Did you feel like you got lucky?
At times, yes. I got insanely lucky the first day. We were going to stop at 3 o'clock - the tournament director announced it. I had $2,000 in chips, which is basically one hand I could play. The average stack at that point was $16,000.
And to be honest with you, I wanted to - I don't know if I should tell you this, but - I had decided I wanted to go out and party that night. There was no point in coming back the next day with $2,000, because there wasn't a prayer - so I wasn't going to bother coming in the next day.
I decided to play extremely aggressive. It was 2:35 a.m., I had $2,000 in chips, and we stopped at 3 a.m. and I had $16,100. I just played the last five or six hands and won all of them. I took it up to $16,000 and that gave me life. That was the average chip stack, so the next day I came in and I think I played really well.
I got lucky at some points, unlucky at other points, but it was pretty smooth sailing. I was chip leader coming into the day today, so that held up. I wouldn't say I got extremely lucky, I wouldn't say I got extremely unlucky.
Were you depressed you couldn't go out and party that night?
Not after this. I'm going to go out and party tonight much harder.
Do you have some plans for tonight?
First I'm going to get dinner, because we didn't take a dinner break, so I haven't eaten in a while. Then I'll probably go out to Pure or one of the clubs out here - just party, get some champagne.
It looks like you have a couple of friends you'll have to take with you.
Yeah, I've got a lot of friends out here from New York and some of my friends from L.A.
Were you worried when you were heads-up with Bill Gazes?
No, I'm going to be honest with you - I really wasn't. The biggest difference was that we were playing Omaha, and I just don't think he knows how to play Omaha, especially short-handed Omaha Eight.
I would not want to play him in Razz. Every time he cleaned up in Razz, and the next game we were going to was Razz, so I had 25 minutes left. I had a huge chip lead, that helps a lot, too.
It's not that I think he's a bad player - he's a really good player - but with the chips I had, and the fact that we were playing Omaha Eight, I was really confident.
So you definitely wanted to finish it up before Razz.
Yeah, for sure. That was my plan: to play super-fast once we got there.
I hear that you were only interested in taking first place, that you weren't interested in second or third.
Absolutely. Even the money for first is not the millions and millions of dollars that one would associate with winning a World Series of Poker bracelet. $300,000 is a lot of money, and that's real nice - so it was definitely first or nothing. Plus I came into today as chip leader, so I was hoping to win, for sure.
So you're looking for millions and millions - are you going to play the Main Event?
I definitely want to play the $10,000 buy-in. The thing about the Main Event is that it's just so long; but yeah, I'll probably play the Main Event
It sounded earlier like you were looking for all the blondes in the house. Is that true?
Not necessarily - that'll probably happen in an hour or so.
Have fun until then, and congratulations.
Thank you so much.
* * * * * * * * * * *
It's our pleasure, Ralph. Thank you for saving your exclusive interview for the outlet with the most awe-inspiring poker coverage on Earth. Enjoy catching up on your delayed and much-deserved night of partying. That goes for the rest of you, too - go have some fun. We've got your back.
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