“Please send me your questions. Actually my native language is Russian, but I think I can answer in English.” So said the man who won this year’s first Low-tier SCOOP title in pot-limit Omaha when the PokerStars Blog first reached out to ask him about his victory.
Roman, who lives in Riga, Latvia, and plays on PokerStars as “PAARTYPAN,” is right at home in situations that make other people uncomfortable. Back when he was 19 years old and working as a DJ at a disco bar, someone told him you could play a game of cards for money on the internet. His second $50 deposit stuck and he never looked back from there, even though he had never played a hand of poker in his life.
“Now I’m 32, I have a beautiful family with two kids, and I’m a professional poker player,” he says. “For most of [my time in poker] I played Omaha hi/lo cash games and MTTs. Last year I started to play low-stakes PLO cash games. I play every series at Pokerstars, they offer the best series, especially for me because I love all games except no-limit hold’em.”
There are a couple of close calls on his resumé that testify to Roman’s love of non-hold’em games. Twice in 2013 he finished within sight of a major PokerStars title, only to watch someone else take home the top prize. During that year’s SCOOP he took seventh place for $10K in a $1,050 pot-limit Courchevel hi/lo event. Then, during WCOOP, he finished third for $27K in a $320 pot-limit Omaha hi/lo tournament.
“We wanted to chop when the game was four-handed,” he remembers. “I had the biggest stack and one guy wanted more money than he was offered. So we did not chop and I finally received $10K less.”
This week those memories metamorphosed from his biggest tournament finishes into the stepping stones that led him to his first SCOOP title. Roman entered Event #5-L, a pot-limit Omaha tournament, for $22. Other than one hand where he caught a break on the river with kings against aces, he says he cruised through Day 1. The second day was just as breezy, even once the final table arrived. When the table was six-handed he and one other player were running neck-and-neck for the chip lead.
“I won a pot against him, realized I had a lot of chips, and started to raise almost any hand. Nobody wanted to finish next, so the game [became me] raising 90% of hands and stealing all the blinds. Once we were heads-up I remember I had about 15 or 20 times more chips than my opponent. It was the easiest final table in my life!
“It was at night and my kids were sleeping, so I couldn’t get too noisy. It was like…finally, I won it! I was happy and tired. I could not imagine that I had beaten almost 6,000 opponents. It should be a good starting point for the series.”
Roman says this $16K score will fund more SCOOP entries, plus a little bit of travel and and some spending on his family. “And of course some part of winnings will go for my bankroll to play a bit higher stakes. This game is crazy but I love it!”