Poker player profile: Roy Vazquez

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Courtesy of Jacksonville’s Poker Room Radio Show

Jacksonville’s Roy Vazquez Jr. won a $10,000 seat to the 2009 WSOP Main Event through a $150 satellite at The Poker Room at St. Johns Greyhound Park. His 118th finish (out of 6,494 players) earned him more than $40,000. He recently was at the $5-$10 no-limit hold’em table at Orange Park when he received an on-air call from the 1010XL Poker Room Radio Show. Here’s an excerpt:

PRR: Has it sunk in yet? When you lay down at night do you picture yourself with chips between your fingers?

RV: Yeah. They say one of the worst things is when you get knocked out of the main event, and now I know what that feels like, especially as far as I made it, which was unexpected. But in retrospect, to think how far I’ve gone and how many people I finished ahead of, I can’t complain at all.

PRR: Was there any specific hand in that stretch that was particularly costly or put you in a bad position?

RV: No, not really, just the last hand. I got my chips in most of the time, and I must have gone all-in at least 20 times, and either didn’t get called or when I got called it held up. But at the last all-in, I had pocket 10s in late position. The blinds were 10,000-20,000 and I raised to 80,000. The button called me then the big blind called. The flop came out A-J-10, two diamonds, so I flopped a set. … I figured the button had a little more than I did. So I just pushed all-in trying to get all the draws out. I guess he thought it was time to gamble, so he did and called with {7-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}, and hit the {6-Diamonds} on the river. … I got up and congratulated everybody. They took me to the place to get the money. It was a hard walk and hard to call people and tell them I got knocked out. But in retrospect, it turned out to be a good run and a good six days of play.

PRR: You went in there representing an entire city and beat 6,376 players, including some of the best in the world. Next year you can go in there with experience under your belt, without any of the butterflies and say, “Here I am, here’s my bankroll, let’s go!”

RV: I definitely want to find a way to go back. There are a lot of sporting events out there and this is the one event where you can rub elbows with the pros and the celebrities and it just costs you your buy-in. I teach tennis and I can’t say, “Hey, Roger Federer, let’s go play a couple of sets.” But I can do just that with the pros at this event.

PRR: Was there ever a point sitting at a table with a pro or a celebrity where you were star struck?

RV: No, not really. I was in my room reading the Bluff Magazine that they were giving away, and there was this article on table draws. Table draws are really important and I had a really good table draw every day. I never really had any hyper-aggressive pros at my table. There was a big stack to my right that kept stealing my blinds, but I couldn’t do anything about that. Luckily, I didn’t run into a (Phil) Hellmuth or (Phil) Ivey.

PRR: You can really get intimidated if a big-name pro or super-aggressive pro comes in. It will change your game.

RV: Right. The WSOP format is good for me because I’m pretty patient. We had two-hour blinds the first day and we were set up for two-hour breaks, but our table never broke. So, we played with the same six players all day. I used that to my advantage with the two pros at the table because I had bluffed both of them one time. The biggest thing is that people try to steal blinds and bluff too much early in the tournament. I don’t know what they are trying to get away with since the blinds are small that early in the tournament.

PRR: You had some very interesting hands right from the get-go.

RV: Yeah, within the first 45 minutes I had A-K suited and made a standard raise. I think the blinds were 50-100 and I raised to 300. One of the pros called and I flopped the nut flush. I bet; he called. The turn hit and paired the board. I thought “Oh, no.” I bet, but didn’t make it any higher than the first bet. He called. Then the river hit another diamond and I bet again. He raised, but he didn’t raise enough to make me fold. It was one of those raises I had to call, so I did. He had a Q-J and that was the pair on the board. He made the boat, so I got knocked down to 23,000 pretty early. That was a tough hand to take early on, but I held it together and bounced back. I think that’s what they were trying to do with the pros especially; the chips stacks last year were two times the buy-in at 20,000, this year it was 30,000. So I think it’s a benefit for the pros; if they get hit early they can still recover.

PRR: What is your poker style?

RV: I’m pretty much tight-aggressive. I’d play tight, but if I thought I could get away with a raise, or a steal or a bluff, then I’d go for it. But I didn’t do it that often.

PRR: That’s a little easier to pull off if you’ve got that tight image, because you’ve been showing premium cards most of the time.

RV: I didn’t show my cards to anybody unless I went to the river. I wasn’t giving any pro a chance to figure it out. I remember I was playing tight enough where I raised with pocket deuces and everybody folded. My image was good for me at the table and I was able to get away with things. Even the last day when I got knocked out, it was a pro from overseas. I had raised from early position and he flipped up A-J in late position and folded and said, “You only play good cards, huh?” And I said, “Maybe.”

PRR: Is it fair in a field of 6,600, with a $10K buy-in, to crack the top 200 and only cash $40K? It seems like you’re short-changed.

RV: The pros had that conversation at our table. They did feel it was very top heavy, to put $10K up and only return $40K. Those guys can probably make more money in a cash game quicker. For me, it is what it is. I got in for $150 and turned it into $40K. So I can’t complain too much.