Victor Ramdin is a poker millionaire but how did he do it?: “I really hate to play against John Duthie. I think he’s one of the best players in Europe and one of the best players period. He beats me all the time”

He’s made over $2m in tournaments since hitting the scene in 2003, but Victor Ramdin hasn’t forgotten his roots

Victor Ramdin may have come to poker a bit later in life but he’s quickly made an impact by cashing in some major events, most noticeably winning a WPT title for $1,331,889 at the Foxwoods Poker Classic last April.

A self confessed chancer – see his swings on the High Stakes Poker TV show if you don’t believe us – Ramdin refuses to call himself a poker pro despite becoming a regular tournament player with some huge final table finishes. Ramdin is sponsored by

You hadn’t been playing long when you got a sponsorship deal with How did you manage that?

I had a pretty decent record but it was a real coincidence. After I won a WPT event in 2006 I flew 17 kids who needed heart surgery out of Guyana, my country of birth. I was blessed to win that much money and thought, why don’t I give some of it back? There are no heart surgeons available in Guyana but there was a list of over 100 kids that were in need. I sent the kids with their families to London and then onto Chennai, India, where I had 13 open heart surgeries paid for. I think it cost me just over $200,000. That was my gift back to humanity. It was during the stopover in London that I met Lee Jones [PokerStars. com cardroom manager] at the Vic. We got chatting, he said I should give them a call, and it all worked out from there.

Coming from a developing country do you find it hard to believe the money that you’re playing with?

Really and truly, if you have $1,000 it’s not enough. If you have $10,000 or $50,000 it’s not enough. And if you have $1m or $10m it’s still never enough. At some point we need to draw a line and say, ‘What the hell are we doing? Don’t we need to do something for people in need?’ I decided that the $200k wasn’t going to hurt me too much. It wasn’t going to take away all my bankroll or anything like that. It wouldn’t change my life that much.

Good man. Why did you leave Guyana in the first place?

I moved to the US [from Guyana] in 1989 because of poverty and because we had a dictator [Desmond Hoyte] at the time. I worked as a taxi driver where I had to work for two months just to buy one used tyre for my car. I was going nowhere so I decided that I needed to go to the Promised Land. I didn’t start playing poker until November 2002 but I was always in the habit of gambling. I used to play pool for money and was a real shark at eight-ball.

So why do you think you took to poker so quickly?

There are two reasons: I’m a quick learner and I take pride in what I do. If I do something I want to be the best and I’m never afraid to learn. I never think that I know more than anyone else. I’m still learning and you can only get better by learning.

What’s your favourite game?

My favourite game is $150/$300, $200/$400 or, pushing it, $300/$600 mixed games, which I really enjoy playing for the variety. Even though I may be a fish in some people’s eyes at some of the games, I really enjoy playing and know that I’ll be about even or slightly up. What I really enjoy playing are sit-and-gos online. I play them almost every day. I’ve had great success and that’s what I’m going to stick to.

Everyone has opponents who they hate playing. Which pros always find your achilles heel?

There are three players: John Duthie, John Juanda and James van Alstyne. These three players are phenomenal. I really hate to play against John [Duthie]. I think he’s one of the best players in Europe and one of the best players period. He beats me all the time. You’ll find in poker that there are some players you own, that you’ll beat no matter what they have, and there will be some guys who will own you. John plays like me and I don’t like that. We have a need to play at any point in a tournament, which is dangerous. We could be on the bubble both holding rags [and still be making moves]. He’s one player I hate to have on my table.

What tournament that you’ve played in has been your favourite and why?

The Main Event at the 2003 World Series of Poker. It was my very first WSOP. I went there on holiday with my wife but played in a satellite and won it. There were 839 runners that year and without any kind of knowledge I made it through to the last three tables and finished 29th [for $35,000]. I’ve had many wins in my short career but I cherish that tournament more than anything else. Unfortunately I made a move against Men Nguyen and he didn’t lay his hand down. He read me well. I learnt that good players cannot be bluffed that easily. I just didn’t have the experience at that point. I hadn’t even been playing a year!

So what’s next?

My ultimate dream is to build a 100-room orphanage by January 2012. I want it to be a memory for the rest of my life because there are a lot of kids in Guyana in need of help. Get them off the streets, get them into schools and maybe get them adopted – that’s my big dream. I’ve already acquired the land so I’m off to a good start.

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