EPT9 Monaco Day 3: Victor Ramdin in the zone, and staying there for good
As Victor Ramdin stacked up chip after chip after chip yesterday afternoon, taking him up to about 260,000 overnight and a real shot at a deep run, he tweeted to his 3,000+ followers that he was playing "extremely well". But that was not accompanied by news of a huge hand he had won, rather an account of a pot that had gone elsewhere. He had folded top set to what he thought had to be a straight in an opponent's hand, and had been proven right to have done so.
"I stuck to my read and the hand I put him on, and he had the hand I put him on," Ramdin said. "I'm proud of myself when I make good reads and I fold. When I start doing that, I'm in the zone."
Ramdin has been in the zone all week. He folded a pair of jacks on a jack-high board on day one, convinced he was up against queens. He was right. And yesterday he was the picture of concentration as this Grand Final field was trimmed to within spitting distance of the money.
None of this is being left to chance. Few players are as happy as Ramdin to describe exactly what it means to be a professional poker player, the emphasis there being on the word "pro.fes.sion.al: adjective - 1. following an occupation as a means of livelihood".
"For me, I need the money," Ramdin said. "When I need the money, and when I must have the money, I have to be in the zone. I have no choice really. I need the money, I have kids in college, I have obligations. It's just the truth... If I need the money, I got to work and I got to go get it. I can't afford to sit around and not bring my A-game. I will bring my A-game when I need the money."
Ramdin is of the slightly older generation of poker pros. He is 45 now, and only took up the game when he was 35, married and with two children. It meant he never lived the life of the travelling pro in his 20s, when there are many more extra-curricular opportunities and a more devil-may-care embrace of the lifestyle. In the early days, Ramdin was a businessman who played poker on the side, but these he days says poker has become his principal source of income, which he thinks actually gives him an edge during these long trips away from home.
"Right now, if I'm leaving my family in the US to come to Europe for five days, I'm losing five days of my life when I'm not with my family," Ramdin said. "So the way I look at it, I need to earn while I'm here. I'm not a 20 year old or a 30 year old come here to have a fun time, to drink...not to say I don't drink, I do drink...but I'm saying that I think I'm a lot more motivated than a lot of other players. That's what I think. I think I need the money more than they do."
He added: "To see those kids who are 18-25, I just wish I had that opportunity. I never did. It's quite different for a guy like myself. It's quite different for my fellow pros who are grown up and mature. Our demands are different."
Although he plays online a good deal, dividing grinding time between Canada and Guyana, and taking breaks from the online felt in his native New York, Ramdin will always consider himself a live pro and has developed tactics to help him stay focused throughout the long hours necessary in this environment. He prizes his abilities to develop reads on opponents, and to navigate his way into the all-important "zone".
"I have something that I usually do over the years, when I am really in the zone," Ramdin said. "Even when I'm not in a hand...I'm sitting on my table and there's a hand between two other players, I try to guess out of ten hands, how many times I'll be right. If I can get it to six times right out of ten, I'm in the zone. If I get it two or three times, four times, I'm not in the zone.
"Everything depends on my reading ability, my ability to read other players even when I'm not in the hand. That helps me a whole lot. Even when I'm not in a hand, I'm in a hand, because I've got to play against these players. I'm happy when I can place a player on a hand. It's my greatest motivation."
Far from me to refute that assertion, but in fact it seems that Ramdin's even greater motivation lies a long way away from the poker tables. As has been well documented before, Ramdin is also a devoted charity campaigner, particularly on behalf of under-privileged children in Guyana, the country of his birth. He has previously donated huge chunks of his tournament winnings to the cause, and travels down there at least once a year to continue the good work.
"We get a lot of support from different sources, just because I'm a Team Pro," said Ramdin. "I get a lot of recommendations for my charity and we're able to help a lot of poor kids. It's been a great run. Big up to PokerStars for keeping me on their team for so many years. I am very, very happy that they have kept me. If it wasn't for PokerStars, the charity that I'm involved with wouldn't be where it is today. We'd be doing one open-heart surgery per year. Today we're doing between six to ten a year."
Long may the association continue. "I don't think poker can ever come out of my blood," he said. "I don't think I can ever quit poker. It's not possible for that to happen."
A quick note on how to follow our coverage of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final. Head to the main EPT Monaco page, where you will find hand-by-hand coverage from the tables in the panel at the top of the page, which also includes current chip counts and payouts as they happen.
Our feature coverage can be found below the panel, including the latest from the side events.