Ram Vaswani is a fearless player who has been at the forefront of the European scene from the days of Late Night Poker
Ram ‘Crazy Horse’ Vaswani is one of a very select number of players who have been consistently in the public eye since the beginning of televised poker. He appeared on the first series of Late Night Poker way back in 1999 and has been in all five of the subsequent series. He and his fellow team-mates in The Hendon Mob quickly saw that this was the future of the game and set about transforming themselves into a recognisable brand, signing a historic sponsorship deal with Prima Poker, which concluded in a $1,000,000 world tour.
However, despite all this publicity Ram has always been something of an enigma to the press and public, whose attention he constantly attracts due to stories of his huge gambling appetite. He most recently set the rumour mill turning after allegedly losing a million-dollar golf bet to Phil Ivey. But, thanks to numerous big tournament results and ultra high-stakes play on Full Tilt Poker, even a setback like that is just another day at the office for the Crazy Horse.
He certainly has little interest in the spotlight and selfpromotion, preferring to let his results do the talking – and he’s had no shortage of those. He won the Dutch LIDO for almost $131,000 in 1999 and the European hold’em Championship 2002 in Paris for 107,500, as well as having numerous seconds and thirds – including one in the 2004 WSOP in the $3,000 no-limit hold’em for $143,740. The modern TV era has been even better for him, with numerous notable finishes from second in the 2004 VC Poker Cup for £125,000 and the inaugural William Hill Poker Grand Prix for £95,000 to an outright win in the inaugural EPT Dublin. He has also made a record-making three EPT finals.
For such a huge talent, it seems strange that he fell into poker by chance. He started out as a professional snooker player and, as he says, ‘the snooker just led to the poker, really’. He started in back room games where he discovered he had more of a talent for poker due to his fearlessness and willingness to gamble. From there (and the famous Hendon home game all four Mobsters played in) he soon established himself as a force on the circuit, particularly in tournaments, where his aggression often led to him building a dominating stack and playing to win at all times. Most notable in his characteristics though is an implacable attitude to the ups and downs of poker – perhaps because gambling is quite simply in his blood, Ram is invariably good-humoured even in the face of defeat.
THE SIXTH SENSE
This good-natured outlook is almost certainly the key to Ram’s game in a wider sense. But what sets him apart is that at the table he manages to combine this relaxed approach with impeccable timing and the ability to read players. At the William Hill Poker Grand Prix he put on a breathtaking display of power poker, re-reraising internet qualifier Simon Wolf with nothing but a gutshot and a hunch and blasting through a high quality field in his heat. Then in the final, he sensed when another qualifier, Greg Hill, had made a straight on a board of 9-10-J-K and put him all-in with a huge over-raise. He held the nuts with A-Q, but sensed Hill would be unable to pass.
Of course, things don’t always go so smoothly when you play with such a style. At the 2006 EPT event in Deauville, Vaswani was the chip leader going into the final table, but saw things fall apart. Attempting to establish his dominance, he got involved in a few early battles with second-chip-leader Theo Jorgensen, where he used some well-timed raises to keep the aggressive Scandinavian in place. This included one re-raise prefl op with suited connectors, which he followed up with an allin on a flop with a flush draw that forced his opponent out.
As the field thinned, however, he started to lose momentum and eventually lost a huge pot to Jorgensen with A-J against J-J, taking him down from a million in chips to only 300,000. He soon put those in the middle with K-8 which was no good against Kirill Gerasimov’s A-J, sending him home in fifth for 97,700, this last move an almost reckless sign of his waning position in the field and his desire to win or get knocked out trying. Post-match he was characteristically unruffled though, with a philosophical take on the proceedings.
What makes the difference between a good poker player and a great one is hard to define. Ram Vaswani is a good example of a consummate poker player, displaying all the necessary talents to survive in the game. But alongside that skill he has the devilmay- care attitude in high-risk situations that can sometimes land him in trouble, but mostly is the source of his enormous success. An affable and relaxed guy away from the glare of the tournament circus, he is respected, liked and feared in equal measure throughout the poker world. And that says it all really.
£125,000, Second £5,000 Victor Poker Cup, London July 2004
£95,000, Second £6,000 William Hill Poker Grand Prix, Cardiff Oct 2005
$143,740, Third $3,000 35th WSOP, Las Vegas – $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em May 2004
$130,934, First $3,000 LIDO Tournament Master Classics of Poker, Amsterdam Nov 1999
€93,000, First €1,500 EPT Irish Winter Tournament Main Event, Dublin Oct 2004
Ram Vaswani is just one of the great players that we regularly interview in PokerPlayer magazine HERE