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Vojtech Ruzicka is a respected online and live poker pro from Liberec in the Czech Republic and he's the second player from his country to make the November Nine after Martin Staszko's appearance in 2011. Ruzicka has had a successful poker career for the last six years but this definitely his biggest score yet. His biggest highlight before this Main Event was a second-place finish in the 2011 WCOOP main event on PokerStars for $710,000. Now Ruzicka has a shot at the title of world champion and the $8 million first-place prize. Ruzicka started playing poker for super low-stakes with friends at the pub over beers and soon moved up to playing online and in small live tournaments at local casinos. He was studying mathematics before taking up poker professionally and says he would have gone into a career in cryptography otherwise. Now Ruzicka could become the first Czech world champion of poker. Check out the video interview with Vojtech Ruzicka and follow his progress in the 2016 WSOP Main Event on PokerListings.com.
Matt Showell: This is a big deal. You're not a newcomer to poker. You've played a lot. You're well known online and in Europe. What was it like being here? This is the biggest tournament in the world. What was it like yesterday, three tables, two tables and now making the November Nine?
Vojtech Ruzicka: Yeah the pressure was pretty high, you know? You can't prepare for that. I was really nervous and there were some small periods in the tournament where I was not at the best place in my mind. But after dinner break I calmed down a bit. It went pretty fast at the end.
Matt Showell: It was kind of a weird situation with the one player letting himself blind down so much. How did that feel. Were you happy to see that?
Vojtech Ruzicka: Yeah. (laughs) It's not nice but it is what it is.
Matt Showell: I'm hoping to get a bit more background on you. How did you first get into poker? Where were you? When was it and what was it about poker that hooked you in and allowed you to develop your skills to get where you are now?
Vojtech Ruzicka: I started to play in my hometown which is Liberec, with my friends. It was tiny stakes like in a pub, drinking beers. After that I tried to play online. I tried to play small tournaments in casinos. But it took some time to become a winning player. But I was always pretty lucky. Especially at the start of my career I was really lucky. I established my bankroll and pretty soon I quit my studies.
Matt Showell: What would you be doing if it wasn't for poker?
Vojtech Ruzicka: I have no idea. I was studying mathematics, like cryptography.
Matt Showell: Does that stuff come in handy for poker.
Vojtech Ruzicka: It's good I can count.
Matt Showell: That helps in poker.
Vojtech Ruzicka: Yeah it helps. There is nothing specific from my studies I can use but the way they were teaching me to use my brain is helpful.
Matt Showell: We had a player from Czech in the November Nine before. Martin Stazsko made the final table. I know there's a good poker community in Prague so did Martin making the final table have an effect on poker in your country? And do you think you making the final table and maybe winning will have an effect?
Vojtech Ruzicka: It definitely affected non-poker people. Everybody knew him. We were like strangers. Czech Republic is not United States. It sounded weird if you played poker. And after Martin Stazsko made the final table it changed a bit. He got a spot in a regular newspaper and television a few times.
Matt Showell: Is that something you're interested in doing too? Maybe the misconceptions about poker are damaging to the people who love the game and the people who make a living playing it.
Vojtech Ruzicka: I will do my best. I feel a responsibility to because yeah, it can definitely help how society sees the poker players. Right now the law is going to change and it's not good for us. They probably will ban online poker in Czech Republic. So I hope this can help. Maybe the public will see us another way.
Matt Showell: You personally have put a lot of time into poker. What does this mean to you? I know there's a lot of money but apart from the money, as an accomplishment, is it important to you to make it this far and to have a chance at winning the Main Event?
Vojtech Ruzicka: Yeah it's huge. I'm still processing it. It's your dream when you start to play poker. This is your dream. It's huge. I'm still processing it. I can't even cheer yet.