Poker player profile: Raj Vohra

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The past three years have been anything but average for poker professional Raj Vohra. Vohra, who lives in Wellington, Fla., has quickly been rising to the top of the poker world. He’s making a substantial name for himself, live and online. His largest wins include the Full Tilt Online Poker Series Event 22 ($430K), Poker Stars Super Tuesday ($74K) and a 2008 World Series of Poker Event 21 final table ($196K). He also has won two Ante Up Poker Tour events ($60K combined) and cashed in the Florida Million ($6K, 18th). Over the past three years, Raj “BadcardsAA” Vohra has amassed more than $1.8 million in tournament winnings. Impressive, considering he didn’t even know the rank of hands before Joe Hachem’s WSOP win in 2005.

The former tennis pro has learned how to take his aggressiveness and competitiveness on the court and translate it into world-class play on the felt. Vohra has taken poker as his new viable sport and has shown through his results what an outstanding contender he really is.

Vohra met with Ante Up’s Garrett Roth to discuss his journey from tennis pro to poker superstardom.

You started as a tennis player and now have transitioned into a poker phenomenon. How did you make the transition and what factors have helped you succeed? I have always been a very competitive person and that showed in my tennis career. I played since I was 8 years old and eventually became a professional player for India. I still play whenever I can, but my main focus now is on poker. I received my degree in accounting as a backup to tennis in case I was ever injured. That education has helped me tremendously in my transition to poker. I was very aggressive and always attacking the net in tennis, which has also translated to my poker game.

How did you get your start online and what are some of the main differences you see apart from the live arena? After moving to Florida to coach tennis, I started watching poker on TV on my time off. I got extremely interested in the game after seeing Joe Hachem win the main event in 2005 and wanted to learn more about the game. About eight months after experimenting in the local casinos, someone told me that everyone was playing online, so I started grinding Party Poker cash games and was actually doing very good. I turned $200 into about $6K and after a few months, I started playing multitable tournaments. I actually won the first online tournament I ever played, which was the Party Poker $200K Guarantee, which I chopped for $40K. A few days later, I won my WSOP Main Event seat and was hooked after that.

What are some of the factors that separate you from the typical poker player? I am a very visual player. I don’t read or try to get much information from any poker books or videos. I’ve seen a lot of guys making mistakes and not changing what they are doing. Every day the game is changing and I want to make those adjustments first, before anyone else. All the online kids nowadays are so genius and all they do is play poker 24/7. You have to be one step ahead of them if you have any chance of competing with them. There are so many new trends in poker that your average player might not even think of. Today’s game is not about playing conservative or upscale hands. You don’t need good cards to win. I like to take control of the table and play a lot after the flop. I would say that about 90 percent of my game is post-flop play. I like to put my opponents to a difficult decision and wait for the right spots. It will make a huge difference in your game if you know and understand concepts like stack sizes, bet-sizing and pot control.

Since you have had so much success in such a short period of time, what is some advice you can give to fellow players and what are some of your upcoming plans for your poker career? The game is getting so complex that you must learn advanced strategy. Training sites are good tools to use for learning fundamental tips, but you have to have the experience for yourself. You have to make your own mistakes and learn what to do to make it better. I can remember hands that I played more than six months ago and having a visual memory like that is what is going to help you succeed. Even though I have some success live, I want to play a lot more tournaments. I traveled a lot when I played tennis, so I’m trying to get used to traveling again for the big tournaments. As far as my future plans, I’m definitely going to win a bracelet this year. I’m so confident in the way that I’m playing that I am totally prepared for the World Series of Poker in June.