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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Interviews

The Round Table – Get to Know Vivek Rajkumar

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Vivek Rajkumar has only been playing live poker full time for a couple of years now and he already has $2.3 million in tournament wins. One his most recent cashes came at the Los Angeles Poker Classic when he won the $10,000 heads up championship and added an extra $350,000 to his bankroll. Vivek also has a World Poker Tour Main Event title as well, winning the Borgata Poker Open in late 2008.

KL: What was your childhood and growing up like?

Vivek:
I was born in India, spent most of my childhood in Singapore, and came to Seattle in 7th grade. I entered a program at the University of Washington called the Early Entrance Program along with 15 other classmates and got to enter the UW early so I could study Computer Engineering and Applied Math.

KL: How did you get started playing poker? How long have you been playing?

Vivek:
I picked it up with friends at the tail end of college, and I've been playing for about three and a half years.

KL: What was your first big poker success that made you realize you wanted to do this as a career?

Vivek:
There wasn't any single event; it was a progression of everything - my overall poker skill set, how quickly I advanced in stakes, bankroll increase.

KL: Have you been investing your money you have won?

Vivek:
Yes, some in real estate and some in staking other players and friends in tournaments and cash games.

KL: How do you handle bankroll management at such a young age?

Vivek:
You learn from other people's mistakes and go on rules of thumb that exist everywhere - 20 buy ins for mid stakes no-limit, 50 buy ins for sit-n-go’s, 200 buy ins for tournaments if you aren't staked, whatever.  If you don't learn bankroll management or take shots too often, natural selection will weed you out of the poker world.

KL: Tell me about the heads up at the Commerce.

Vivek:
It was a very tough tournament for me especially because I didn't have much heads up experience coming into the event. I talked a lot of heads up strategy with friends, ran street-by-street ranges on different board textures, thought about counterstrategies preflop and post flop to strategies my opponents could be using, studied in between breaks, etc. I feel like that whole week I went into heads up poker mode and I'm glad everything paid off.

KL: The heads up ran super late – does that ever affect you, and did it affect you playing the tournament the next day?

Vivek:
Yeah definitely, I did horribly in the Main Event the next day because I was still in heads-up mode trying to win every pot. I remember losing half my stack in the first round of me sitting down, in a stupid pot, which is a lot since WPT 10k's start off with so many blinds. After that fiasco though I consciously decided to nit up and lasted till a little bit after dinner break.

KL: Where and what do you play online?

Vivek:
I play on Full Tilt Poker and I play a mixture of tournaments, pot limit Omaha cash games and the occasional no limit cash game and sit-n-go.

KL: Where did your screen name come from?

Vivek:
Psyduck, It's a Pokémon, one of my favorite of all!!!

KL: What poker accomplishment are you most proud of?

Vivek:
I am probably most proud of the Borgata win. It was probably one of the happiest moments of my life, helped by the fact that I was surrounded by very good friends who were all cheering for me.

KL: How did you celebrate?

Vivek:
I didn't have any ridiculous celebrations, a bunch of us went out to eat that night at a good restaurant inside the casino and I went to sleep so I could do interviews the next morning.

KL: What else do you want to accomplish?

Vivek:
I want a World Series of Poker bracelet. I never want to relax on how much studying and work I put into the game. Also, I want to get much better at heads up and 6-handed pot limit Omaha.

KL: What do you have coming up?

Vivek:
I'll try to get in as much volume as possible, probably be playing the Foxwoods events as well as online series that run. I don't really know ahead of time what my plans are; I usually just book last-minute flights the night before a tournament starts because I'm lazy :)

Like a wheel, the Round Table is a circle of adventures and victories, beats and stories, and life as it unfolds with a cast of characters that may, or may not, have joined you in your home on a local TV program. There's so much more to poker than what you see on TV. Although I won't use canvas, I will paint the full picture for you as I follow the lives of some of your favorite (and some unknown) players. The Round Table is an ongoing series of life, viewed full circle.

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