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Victoria Lucenkova is a professional table-tennis player and made a deep run at the 2013 Battle of Malta. She's dating a professional poker player and has traveled around the world to major live poker events. In this interview she tells us about how poker compares to her sport of choice, and her experience at the second-annual Battle of Malta.
Kara: Hi, I'm Kara Scott here at the Battle of Malta on day two and I have professional table tennis player Viktoria Lucenkova with me who is still in the, in the money and still in the tournament here. You're going to be going on your dinner break, so talk to me about how the tournament has gone for you so far.
Viktoria: I mean this tournament is pretty difficult because you are always not really deep. It always starts at big blinds, 40 big blinds, 20 big blinds sometimes. Now it's 12 big blinds, so it's pretty difficult to handle, I think, for a woman.
Kara: And speaking of women, as one of the few women playing in the field, you've got a fair amount of experience playing some ladies events. You have a cache [SP] as well at the PCA in the ladies event. What's different about playing here in a mixed tournament?
Viktoria: I enjoy it much more. I can say I would rather play mixed tournaments because it's much more fun with men on the table. Sometimes women are really serious. They're taking it really serious. Yeah, I prefer to have some more fun and some nice talks.
Kara: I find that a lot of athletes or people that work in sports or work in games, even like darts or bowling, they play poker and obviously, you are a professional table tennis player yourself. Do you think a lot of athletes and a lot of sports players play poker as well?
Viktoria: Yeah, I think it's...a lot of sportsmen who are doing that as a hobby just when they got the free time. For sure, it is very interesting and it's very relaxing and so...but for me, I like to play it when I get a free time as well.
Kara: Does the sense of competition, maybe the aggressiveness of it, does that appeal to you?
Viktoria: Yeah, yeah and that's why I probably I like to play with men because in table tennis I mainly play against women. And here, I get the chance to beat some men. They see that women can also play poker sometimes.
Kara: Its a good thing to see, as well. Definitely hoping that more women get involved in poker. If you were trying to get more to come in to play some live poker, what would you say to them?
Viktoria: Yeah, this is the great way to beat some men and to show them that we are also very strong sometimes.
Kara: In terms of playing professionally, how does playing poker compare to playing table tennis for a living?
Viktoria: Yeah, I think it's pretty same. You have to work hard to get paid for it, just like in poker. My fiancee, he is really...he makes lots of studies, just like me as I'm practicing. I have to practice every day so with him. But I think the pressure in poker to handle the swings, I think it is much more hard to handle than in table tennis. Although, in table tennis as well, sometimes when you are not in good shape and you can lose to worse players, I mean rankingly worse, then it's hard to handle as well.
Kara: There's a pretty strong poker scene here in Malta. A lot of players actually moved to Malta to play, so what's it like from your point of view? How are the tournaments? How does the Battle of Malta compare?
Viktoria: For players who are actually living here, I think it's more like society events, social event because we meet...not me, but my boyfriend, he meets lots of his friends, also Dutch players, French players, so like that, they can talk to each other, they can see, they can discuss some changes to how it goes in poker world. It's pretty much social event for them.
Kara: With this smaller buy-in here at the Battle of Malta as well, there's a lot of tournaments that have a much bigger buy-in. I think we are getting maybe a crowd that enjoys poker just for the sake of poker. Would you say that that's true? Are people kind of enjoying themselves out there? Viktoria: Exactly, exactly, that's why because the buy-in for them is not such a big amount. And that's why, for them, it's more a social event. They are coming and they are enjoying their play and...yeah, that's true. Kara: Well, hopefully you enjoy the rest of your play. I know that you're getting a little bit short stacked. After the dinner break, I expect to see a great return. I'm Kara Scott here at the Battle of Malta.