You get the impression from 2016 November Niner Vojtech Ruzicka that he really loves poker. He’s already promised that he won’t be retiring if he wins the Main Event and that he would continue to play high buy-in tournaments all around the world.
But since the end of this year’s World Series of Poker, and the final table eventually getting underway, Ruzicka has been spotted playing in a variety of different destinations. The Czech pro has certainly been honing his game ahead of the most important final table of his life, not only in tournaments!
Ruzicka admitted over the summer that he wasn’t much of a cash game player, but that certainly didn’t stop him from heading to Rozvadov for the King’s Casino Cash Game. After a rough couple of days playing against the likes of Tony G and Igor Kurganov, he managed to turn it back around in the final session and finish the trip as a winner.
Since then King’s Casino have announced that they intend to build a new hotel, spa and a new huge poker room. Ruzicka was quick to praise Leon Tsoukernik and the recent expansion plans at King’s.
“I couldn’t be more excited about it! It looks like King’s could become the biggest European poker room really soon and the plans look awesome,” said Ruzicka of the host casino for WSOP Europe in 2017 and 2019. “King’s has some special memories for me. I actually played my first big live tournaments there, and I have won the German Championship of Poker there twice.”
“I am really excited to represent Rozvadov in November.”
As well as playing at King’s, Ruzicka also headed to the European Poker Tour stop in Barcelona where not only did he finish 18th in the €25,000 High Roller, but managed a deep run in the Main Event only to finish 24th. Ruzicka said that it was great to have the experience of running deep in another tournament so soon.
“When I was deep in the EPT Barcelona Main Event, I was really excited, but not nervous at all. It felt great,” said Ruzicka. “I’ve never thought self-confidence makes much of a difference, but the fact that you will play a final table in a much bigger tournament in three months’ time made me much more relaxed.”
“I definitely felt much better at the table and I was just like ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to win the EPT while waiting for the November Nine?’”
In Barcelona it was announced that the EPT is soon to rebrand into PokerStars Championships. Ruzicka’s poker resume is littered with cashes, as well as a High Roller win at EPT Deauville in 2013 for €313,000. Ruzicka says that he hoped that the new format will work as well as the EPTs have done.
“I honestly think that the EPT had a great name around the poker world, and I personally would never have renamed those tournaments. But we will see. I will definitely give them a shot,” said Ruzicka.
This year there are three Europeans at the Main event final table, with Ruzicka joined by Spain’s Fernando Pons and the Netherlands’ Kenny Hallaert. This is an increase from 2015 where just Federico Butteroni and Pierre Neuville were from the other side of the pond.
In 2014, however, there were four Europeans at a final table which was eventually won by Swede Martin Jacobson. And with four of the last eight Main Event Champions being European, does Ruzicka think that it would mean anything special to become yet another European Main Event winner?
“I think everyone wants to win the Main Event really bad, but I think that people care more about how the winner plays and behaves. I don’t think that nationality is that important,” said Ruzicka. “However, I do feel that following these results American players are starting to respect us Europeans much more at the tables and when we come to the World Series of Poker.”
And with the November Nine right around the corner, Ruzicka will have a gang of rowdy Czechs railing him at the final table.
“Now that I’m a November Niner, everybody has been really nice to me. It’s been actually quite pleasant so far,” admitted Ruzicka. “I would like to thank the entire Czech poker community. Everyone has been so supportive to me and I hope that I will make them proud!”