Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.
When you start looking for the true ‘nice guys’ of poker, some names like Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow don’t just jump out at you—although we understand that away from the table they have much different personalities. Players like Greg Raymer and Daniel Negreanu always come to mind, and if you ask anyone who knows Ben Roberts, they will tell you he tops the list of the poker ‘nice guys.’
So it is no surprise that he has acquired nicknames like ‘The Gentleman,’ ‘Gentleman Ben,’ and ‘Gentle Ben.’ Not only is he always a perfect gentleman at the poker table, but everywhere he goes—even his attire reflects the image of a perfect British gent—almost aristocratic.
Ben Roberts was born Mehdi Javdani (November 3, 1956) and moved from his native country of Iran (Persia) to London as a teenager. He legally changed his name to Benjamin Roberts in the late 1970’ when he got married, so that his children could carry an English surname. Ben has three children—youngest to oldest—Sebastian Roberts, Rebecca Roberts and Jamie Roberts, who is one of the first brown belts for the online Blackbelt Poker room.
His romance with poker started out as a holiday at the beach, when one of his teenage friends produced a deck of cards and games began—poker games that is. Although Robert’s love for poker was almost immediate, it was not his first passion, he had dreams of becoming a professional snooker player. Roberts knew he had the dedication and desire that it would take to own the snooker table, but he realized early on that he was lacking the most important ingredient—the sheer skill of the game.
Roberts never made it to the top of the snooker rankings, but he did represent his country well by winning the Country Table Tennis Champion in 1978 and the English Pool Champion in 1979, before turning his focus to playing poker professionally.
Ben played primarily in No-Limit and Pot-Limit cash games mostly because that is what was readily available in Europe before he became interested in tournament play. He rapidly mastered the tournament concept in live play and adapted his own online style. He is a sponsored Pro player for one of the world's largest online poker rooms—Full Tilt Poker.
‘The Gentleman’ started placing in many of the tournaments that he entered, making nearly $40,000 in No-Limit Holdem events at the Festival of Poker in London in back to back years—4th place in 1990 and 3rd place 1991. He continued to make many final tables and impressive cashes across Europe until he was thrown into the poker spotlight in 1998.
Roberts was playing in the Main Event of the 1998 World Series of Poker (WSOP), just missing the final table when his pocket Aces lost to Scotty Nguyen’s when Nguyen hit the flush. Roberts took home $150,000 for his 6th place finish. Just as a point of interest, Jan Lundberg was eliminated in the same hand as Roberts so only five players sat down to the final table that year. Nguyen won the tournament worth a cash prize of $1,000,000.
Ben appeared on Late Night Poker in 2002, finishing 3rd in his heat and beating out players like Daniel Negreanu, Malcolm Harwood, and Ross Boatman. In the next few years Roberts placed in more than 20 tournaments around the world, including his 2004, 5th place finish at the World Poker Tour (WPT) third season Grand Prix de Paris event.
Still dominating the European poker scene in 2005, he made the final table at the Victor Chandler (VC) Poker Cup, took 6th place in the World Speed Poker Open and became the 5th person inducted into the European Poker Players Hall of Fame. In December of that year Roberts padded his bankroll with another $143,555 when he took 2nd place at the Annual Five Diamond Classic in Las Vegas, NV.
He continues to make notable cashes in WSOP and WPT events and other tournaments around the world. In April of 2010 Ben placed 5th in the Paddypowerpoker Irish Open, claiming his largest pay day to date of $176,113.
The ‘Gentleman’ of poker, who has been playing for more than twenty five years, says that he has never had a losing year and he believes poker is more than a way to make a living; that it should be a journey of joy and fun—easy for him to say, he is usually winning.
All kidding aside, Ben Roberts is a very talented poker player and he shares much of his knowledge in his articles in forums and online poker sites. When he has time he likes to read and listen to jazz, but there are only four things in the world that Ben loves more than poker, his family, and he spends every minute he can with them.