High Roller Radio
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High Roller Radio has interviewed some of the greatest gamblers, casino insiders, sports bettors, authors and poker players in the world. Here, our Q&A with WSOP record holder Ronnie Bardah, a bracelet winner, who holds the mark for most consecutive cashes in the championship main event with five.
"It was the only time I've cried at the poker table!"
Mississippi Grind Trailer
"I don't care about money!"
That quote from the flick Mississippi Grind starring Ryan Reynolds as a nomad who teams up with an older gambler as they hit the roadie search of action.
Rounders is a 1997 crime drama film about the underground world of high-stakes poker. It follows two friends, Matt Damon and Edward Norton, who need to make some quick cash in order to pay off a large debt. The term 'rounders' refers to a person travelling around from city to city seeking high stakes cash games. It opened to mixed reviews but, with the explosion of Texas Hold'em, Rounders has become a cult hit and is still a main reason many top players got into the game.
Perfect Ending for Sequel?
The film concludes with Mike paying back Worm's debt and the $10,000 loan from his law professor, and restoring his original bankroll of "three stacks of high society". Mike drops out of law school, says goodbye to his girlfriend, and makes his way to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker.
* Matt Damon as Michael McDermott
* Edward Norton as Lester "Worm" Murphy
* John Turturro as Joey Knish
* John Malkovich as Teddy KGB
* Famke Janssen as Petra
* Michael Rispoli as Grama
* Martin Landau as Abe Petrovsky
* Gretchen Mol as Jo
'If you think have an edge you want to keep pots smaller and navigate with more skill."
- Greg Mueller
WSOP Bracelet Winner & Record Holder (Full Q&A Audio HERE)
Q: You’re known for cashing consistently. Lately, I think I’ve been playing well but, when you get busted from one of the tournaments online, I’ve been questioning my play after being eliminated.
RB: You can’t be result oriented. Sometimes you make the right play and bust anyway.
Q: Can we talk about Miss Finland for a second? I mean she’s absolutely stunning, and she’s gained some notoriety for that massive bluff she successfully made on you on Shark Cage. It gained a lot of media attention. Has that been fun for you or more of a nuisance?
RB: It’s been fun, I’m one who doesn’t get easily annoyed but every time I walk into a poker room I hear about it. Any attention is good attention and it’s fun. I don’t mind it. I’ve made a living folding, to tell you the truth, so sometimes you fold the best hand without any information. I’m confident in the way I play. Sometimes I make mistakes and things happen but no, it’s not a nuisance. I like all the attention, it’s been fun for me. I can laugh about it. Sure it’s getting old but, at the same time, it’s fun.
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Ronnie captured his WSOP bracelet in 2012, in 6-handed limit hold'em.
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Q: You were playing for a lot of money and you din’t didn’t know much about her, right?
RB: I basically flew to Barcelona the day before and still a little jet-lagged, off my time and I only had about four hours sleep. I’m not blaming it on that but it definitely helps to be focussed when you’re playing any form of poker or when you do anything in life. I didn’t know who my opponents were until I got there. She was the celebrity player at my table, every table has one, hey qualify them, and I didn't know much about her. I did get a chance to speak to her a couple hours before when we were doing make-up and interviews. I knew she played poker, that she had a little experience and had just finished playing a tournament, so I knew she knew the rules and how to play. I didn’t think she was that experienced, and she really wasn’t, and those are the only things I knew about her. You wanna talk about the importance of folding? You have to be able to fold some big hands when you’re behind. We call people who don’t fold ‘Calling Stations.’ I play a lot of limit hold’em and limit hold’em it’s all about saving those bets when you are behind and not calling down. Even if you’re get 15 or 16-to-one, and you know the player has it in that spot, you just have to muck sometimes. That’s helped me in no-limit hold’em with my hand reading abilities. I’ve been able to fold some of these hands in tough spots and I’ve been right more often than not. Sometimes you’re going to be wrong and if you can’t fold a winning hand sometimes you’re just not going to be successful at poker. if that makes any sense. Sometimes you have to make these big lay downs because it’s all about survival and going deep in these tournaments. Sometimes you have to make big calls. I;ve called people down with Ace high. I’ve called a player with nine high a couple of times in my life and I was correct. It’s not like I’m always folding.
Q: You won your bracelet in 2012, a final table that included Canadian Sorel Mizzi, that m,ust have been a special moment for you, getting your piece of WSOP glory?
RB: It was amazing. First of all, 6-handed limit hold’em is my favourite game to play, it’s a lot of fun for me, and basically made up most of my cash game career.I was definitely in my comfort zone. I played a lot at Foxwoods, the Borgata and Turning Stone, so to win my bracelet in that game is just amazing. The players there? Terrence Chan was at that final table, he’s recognized as the best limit hold’em tournament player in the world, Sorel Mizzi, an overall tournament beast, and it was special too because Chad Brown finished 9th. He congratulated me afterward and sent me a message on Facebook. We were friends before but, after that, we stayed in contact before he died and would talk whenever we saw each another.
Q: That’s a great loss for the poker world.
RB: Yeah, he was such a nice guy, a real straight shooter and a kind hearted dude. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body. The good really do die young. RIP Chad Brown, he’s a great guy.
Q: Yes, he’ll certainly be missed my many. Well, congratulations on that bracelet win. In a tournament like that there’s very little dead money.
RB: There’s not much dead money at all. You had Maria Ho as well at the final table. The kid I beat heads-up is recognized as one of the best mixed game, cash game and limit players in the world. You had Marco Johnson, Brent Wheeler, the kid’s got two bracelets in limit hold’em, he finished 4th. You just don’t have any soft spots, none at all. Obviously I was running good, won several big pots in that tournament, credit that for my success, but I was also really on my game those last two days. Everything has to go right for you to win a bracelet and it just did. It was definitely one of the proudest moments in my poker career and my life. To win a bracelet with everybody watching, I had a big rail, it was really cool.
Q: You’ve also received a lot of press for your impressive showing(s) in the main event. Five straight years you’ve cashed, a WSOP record, you’re going for number six this summer. Can you talk about the main event, your runs and why you think it is you’ve had so much success in that marquis event? I mean, you got a lot of ESPN coverage this year?
RB: Yeah, especially on their Day 1 coverage, those first two episodes I had more coverage than anyone, more than Phil Ivey, and that’s pretty crazy. They really focussed on me and I appreciate ESPN for showcasing my name, my face, that was really cool. It gave me a lot of recognition. More people in the poker world know who I am now, which was good for me. Did any spots stick out? I’ve only played the main event six times, the last five I have cashed. I missed the main event in ’07, ’08 and ’09, I could have sold action those years but, I’m weird about that, I always like to have 80-to-90 per cent of myself in tournaments. Looking bak it was silly. I had people who offered to put me in but I always turned them down, I’m just weird like that. In 2010, I won my seat online in Israel, I was at my cousins house, so I came back to play. It was the only tournament I played in that year. It was my deepest run, I finished 24th. On Day 6, I had to go to the emergency room because I was really sick, with 103 degree fever. I eventually left but didn’t get back to the Rio, heading into Day 7, until 7 a.m. that morning, slept for two hours and did an hour of interviews. So I only had two hours of sleep for Day 7. That’s when I really got blinded down, I was one of the chip leaders, a top ten stack with 77 left, but got blinded down to being 23 of 27 and being sick had a lot to do with me getting short. It was a sick run, the first of my five, but I really didm;’t think about a streak until I had three, in 2012 when I won my bracelet. I cashed the main event that year and I thought, ‘Hey, what’s the record?’ They told me it was four and I started thinking like, ‘At least I can tie it.’ I didn’t realize that Christian Harder also had three straight cashes in the main. Then, he and I tied the record with four. People started talking, saying ‘Ronnie Bardah and Christian Harder have a chance to break the all-time WSOP main event consecutive cash record.’ So, I remember Christian busting on Day 2 this past year and he sent me a text message saying, ‘It’s all you buddy. Good luck!’ I remember being on the bubble, it was the first time I was short, the other four years I had a lot of chips and wasn’t close to bubbling at all, and this time I got it in on the bubble two times. I picked the spots I was supposed to shove and I shoved. I didn’t, by any means, try folding my way, inching my way, into the money just for the sake of the record. On the broadcast you’ll be shove Ave 8 off. They showed one hand where I raised called with 10’s for half my stack with 35 left. The guy had Ace Queen and turned a queen. That got me really short and I shoved Ace 8 off with 14 to go before the money. I could have just folded to the money but I was actually trying to build a stack to go deep. It was nice, I won that race, Ace 8 versus 5’s. I turned a straight draw but hit an ace on the river, which is also on the broadcast.
Q: It was a very special moment for you and the emotion was evident on your face during the ESPN telecast.
RB: The main for that I have a lot of people, who don’t have the opportunity to play the main event, who messaged me on Facebook, texted me on my phone, and people from my home casino wo all told me they were pulling for me. A couple of guys who were sick n=back one, there’s an older gentleman with cancer, who were living through my success at the world series. It’s like when I perform, I’m performing for them. When I do something at the World Series of Poker I’m representing people I grew up playing poker with and I’m aware of that. That’s why I got emotional, all the support and messages people sent me, because it makes me very passionate. ‘m an empathetic person, so I can’t help it sometimes. It’s actually the first time I've cried at the poker table aside from when I won my bracelet, I kind of teared up then. I think about them, all the people who support me, it just made me tear up a little. It’s a pretty cool record.
Q: It seems like if anybody has the main event figured out it’s you. Can you imagine not cashing in 2015?
RB: It’s pretty weird. Every time I come to the Rio, people are always asking me what level we cash, they’;re coming up to me, they text me, ‘Hey Ronnie, when do we cash in the main?’ I think it would be weird because I don’t really know what it’s like to not cash in the main event, to tell you the truth. 2006 was 10 years ago now, 10 world series have passed. I don’t know how t would feel. It would be weird to bust on Day 2, Day 3, or even Day 1. I can only take it one hand, one level, one day at a time. My style is pretty conducive to the world series structure. I just hope to keep cashing. It would be nice to make it six, seven, eight or nine. This year I’m doing it for Norman Vhad because he said five in a row would never be broken. I just want to hit six, so I can look in the camera and say, ‘Hey Norman, who’s ever gonna beat six?’
Q: You’re big in Muay Thai and fitness?
RB: I love Muay Thai, I actually just booked my trip to Thailand. I like to practice, spar, kick box and stuff.
Q: It’s obviously helped you poker game. You think a lot of players neglect that part of the game?
RB: I must admit I do feel bad for some people I see at the poker table. I know some people have legitimate health issues but I do believe everybody can do something. Food is a drug and it can be an addiction. I hear people say, ‘I can’t have it with no sugar,’ or ‘I can’t have it without butter.’ It’s just because your brain is trained, it’s like a trigger on the brain, it’s a drug. If you keep lowering the amount of sugar intake you have, to the point of zero, and then go back to drinking coffee or coke it’ll make you sick. t’s really about training your mind and your body to get off of things. I wish the best for everybody and I’ve tried to suggest nutrition. I think it’s vey important. It helps you stay focussed.
Ronnie Bardah Thank-ypu!