MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – RONNIE BARDAH
Name: Ronnie Bardah
Birthplace: Brockton, Massachusetts
Childhood: Boston Area
Current Residence: Brockton, Massachusetts
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Marital Status: Single
Best Previous WSOP Performance: 24th place in 2010 WSOP Main Event Championship
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: This is one of the biggest rails I’ve seen. So, talk about that.
RB: A lot of my friends, supporters, and great people in my life. There’s plenty more where that comes from back home. It’s huge. Everywhere I’ve gone in this country, I’ve never treated anyone with disrespect. I’ve always had a big heart. Excuse my language, never (expletive deleted) anybody in my life. In this poker world there’s a lot of scum and a lot of things you got to dodge. I just got a heart of gold and a good name, so I have a lot of people that are friends of mine. I formed a big team of friends; almost like a poker family.
Question: When you were going deep in this event you had a lot of chips. I don’t think I ever had so many people that asked ‘Do you know about him?’ They were telling me your story and I think that your story is something that’s inspirational to a lot of people. You went to Thailand. You do all the physical fitness – the kickboxing. You do a lot of things. Talk about that and how it helps you in poker.
RB: In the 2010 World Series of Poker, I made my deep run into 24th. On Day Six, I went into the emergency room with something. If I told you things that were going on – I was infected by the evils. I had a flu at first. When the flu went away I had numbness on my face on one side. And I thought it was something bad but it kept going for months and months. But it kept triggering everywhere. My face was going numb, my lips, my hands. I would have heart palpitations. They thought I had anxiety, all this other stuff, and they could never diagnose me. I had CAT-scans on my head, my body. I was really feeling like I was dying for about a year and a half. I got tested for lime disease. Every disease you could think of, I came back negative. So, I just changed my diet completely and started exercising more. I’ve been pretty fit my whole life, but went to Thailand to really detoxify and get everything out of my system. I went out there and also went to Israel. I go to Israel almost twice a year. It’s where my family’s from. I’m born and raised in Boston, but my ancestry is from Israel and my family lives there. I was in Thailand for two and a half months. And I went out there. I learned a lot from them. How to fight and had a lot of respect and stuff. It’s a lot about respect in Thailand. I’m going back in January for a month and a half with (some other poker players). And everybody else who’s close with me is welcome. It’s a great experience and it was awesome.
Question: Did they ever diagnose you with anything?
RB: No, I never got diagnosed. It just went away. Thank God. Me sitting here telling you what I went through I would never wish on anybody. My greatest enemy I don’t wish it. I went through a lot of stuff. People think ‘it’s all in your head, it’s anxiety, it’s depression.’ It wasn’t. I’m one of the happiest kids ever. It just all went away.
Question: What was your lifestyle before Thailand?
RB: I always ate pretty healthy. I stopped eating fast food about five years ago. I don’t eat fast food at all. I drink plenty of water. I just got hit with something. Health is huge. I don’t know what it was. I’m just glad it’s gone for now. It’s been gone for seven or eight months.
Question: Have you seen any difference in your poker game? Any results change since your lifestyle change and going to Thailand?
RB: This is only my second event this summer. I pick and choose tournaments to play. It is expensive. The times I do play I feel fresh and ready to go. Balance is the key. When you have balance in your life when you’re playing poker everything’s pretty much clear. I’ve been playing professionally for nine years, so the longer the better.
Question: A lot of the times especially from guys who win gold bracelets that have been playing as long as you have, it’s just kind of like another day at the office. Whereas for you, you kind of threw your hands over your head and it looked like a very emotional experience for you. Can you talk about what this means to you?
RB: Well yeah, it’s a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Nothing against the WPT or the EPTs or the APPTs or the Heartland poker tours -- those are all great tours and everything. This is just the highest step. Especially in Vegas to win a bracelet, there’s no asterisk next to it. The structures are great. You’re playing with the best in the world. Everybody makes it out to the WSOP. Some people can’t get out to the WPTs or the EPTs and you’re win is great, but everybody like it’s not the win. When you win here, everybody makes it out. And everybody wants to play Six-Max on the Hold’em tournament. The best Limit players in the world are playing. I love to play Limit Hold’em. That’s where I started, playing with guys like this and another gentleman whose watching me earlier, we play Limit Hold’em day after day after day. I feel like besides Terrence (Chan) I felt I had the second most experience in playing Limit Hold’em. He’s played a few more limit tournaments than I have, but I felt I had the upper-hand experience. Once he busted, I felt like I was the best player at the table in terms of Limit Hold’em experience.
Question: You seem to be defined by your experience in Thailand and your refocus on your energy there. I’d like you to talk to someone who doesn’t know anything about that life or those things that you did over there. Give me one example of something you did over in Thailand that may have helped you win tonight, where you may have come in somewhere else if you wouldn’t have done that. What did you do over there that won this thing tonight?
RB: We have a choice here. Thank God most people in this country have a choice to live free and play and do what they want to do. They can play poker for a living if they’re good enough. When you go to Thailand and you see little boys that have to fight to live. Four-year-old kids that are orphans….You should see these kids. They don’t have money or nothing….So when you have a choice, these kids have no choice. For me to just go there voluntarily and want to learn with these kids, I take my hat off to them. You don’t realize how lucky you have it ‘til you go to other countries and other places. I travel all the time. I see poverty. I’m from Brockton, Mass. It’s not necessarily the suburbs; it’s the inner-city, kind of the hood there. A couple of my friends were shot and killed when they were younger. I’ve been to about seven or eight funerals in 2001, 2002. Having friends shot and killed there and there. I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders. When you grow up with kids that become trouble makers, you’ve known them since you were six or seven years old. You’re not going to say you’re not my friend anymore. They go this way, you go that way. You try to help, and sometimes you get caught up with them. I’m happy to get away from all that and be here playing for $200,000 and a gold bracelet. Things and times have changed over there you know. In ten years you look back on your life, I don’t want to say some of the things I used to be doing. The stupid things. Now I’m doing this.