Exclusive Interview with Mark Radoja Bracelet Winner Event #24 of the 2011 WSOP
Mark Radoja took down Canada’s second bracelet of the 2011 World Series of Poker in the $5000 No Limit Hold’em “Shootout” and while the poker felts and excitement and attention that goes with winning a shiny gold bracelet in Las Vegas have been keeping him pretty busy the past week, Mark found some quiet time to answer a few questions.
The young player from Ontario now has 9 WSOP cashes under his belt, this latest victory worth a cool $436,568. Radoja has steadily increased his winnings over his last five years of tournament play, each year almost multiplied exponentially from the last.
Just last year in 2010, Mark came very close to his WSOP “Gold”, finishing 3rd in a $5000 event for over $232,000.
Regardless, “Close but no cigar” is ancient history for him now as the title and prize are in the bag. How does that feel? Here is what Mark had to say:
CP: “You have a bit of a history with this event yourself, looking at previous results, you had been just one “offical final table” away from the Shootout bracelet back in 2009 and then very close in a 5k again in 2010. Even coming that close on several occasions is huge, but how sweet was it to get this proverbial “monkey off your back” now?”
Mark Radoja: “A WSOP bracelet is undoubtedly the most coveted prize in all of poker. It’s just a dream come true. To be so close before and fall short hurt a lot, but I learnt from it. I remember making a scared fold last year that turned out to be incorrect against Jeffrey Papola. I would of been a strong favourite in the hand had I called and possibly won it instead of him. This year I’m happy to say I have no regrets and the cards went my way when they had to. I’m absolutely elated.”
CP: “It’s too bad you didn’t get “Barry Greenstein’s book”, but we think you got the better deal. That was a pretty tough table and field in general, any really tough spots that you can share?”
Mark Radoja: “The field was completely jammed with the best players in the world, so I was put in a lot of tough spots. I think just not being intimidated and putting yourself in there head is crucial. I think one of my stronger skills for sure is maintaining my composure and making a minimal amount of mistakes. Thankfully, I brought my “A” game all three days.”
CP: “Shoot-outs are a very difficult format for many, do you have a strong SnG type background in the game?”
Mark Radoja: “I use to play a lot in the past. I think they are pretty “figured out” by most of the really good players. I love shorthanded play in general, the shorter the better.”
CP: “It also appears you prefer Heads-up and Short Handed, 6 Max type games, Did you develop and practice these particular strength online?”
Mark Radoja: “Sure, yes. I’m impatient; What can I say, haha. I like the constant action in a shorthanded game and you can’t just “nit” it up and run good. The skill level goes way up.”
CP: “How did you get in the game?”
Mark Radoja: “I’ve always loved poker. I started back in high school player for quarters with my friends in the cafeteria. Then we got in trouble and we had to take it underground and start playing behind the stage and in areas that weren’t used much lol. I remember if you lost $20 you were furious. It was a lot of fun. Afterwards I discovered PartyPoker and played there for a while. I’ve just been really lucky though with these big tournaments. I like to think I play well and have been rewarded, but you need to be careful there is a lot of luck involved; it’s certainly not stable and the lucky ride can end for even the most skilled players.”
CP: “Anybody in particular that helped you along the way?”
Mark Radoja: “Of course so many people have been supportive of me and helped me improve my game. Most importantly though I have met some truly amazing people that I am proud to call my very good friends. We hardly ever talk about poker though.”
CP: “Your winner’s photo clearly shows this a to be not just a personal victory but quite a proud moment for friends and maybe family. How did you celebrate this victory?”
Mark Radoja: “I didn’t get outta there ’til almost 4 am, but it’s Vegas and we figured something out. I got home at 11 am. I think I might of still been tipsy at the bracelet ceremony the next day.”
CP: “It’s something we ask every player that scores such a sweet amount of dough, kinda like the old,”I’m going to Disneyland” cliche, but has there been anything you had been saving to treat yourself to for a win like this?
Mark Radoja: “I’m gonna invest it and then buy Disneyland so I can go every day for free.”
CP: “Are any of your poker goals around the money lists and milestones?”
Mark Radoja: “No, not at all. I love poker, but I try not to set goals that are results oriented. You can’t control a lot of the time if you win or lose in this game. You can only play well and hope to get lucky.”
CP: “Is the POY, (Player of the Year),title an important competition to you?”
Mark Radoja:”I’m going to give it a good go that’s for sure. It would be so cool to win, but in order for that to happen all the stars have to align.”
CP: “Does it mean more with a great head start like the one you have?”
Mark Radoja: “It doesn’t hurt that’s for sure. POY though is going to probably require I win another bracelet though or at least final table two more.”
CP: “It sounded like you may be just picking and choosing events that are best suited to you and hitting the juicy cash games in-between?”
Mark Radoja: “Naw, no cash games here really. I’m just playing a lot of No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha tournaments. That’s enough for me, I just love Las Vegas. When I’m not in a tournament I’m in my favourite city in the world and there are endless amounts of fun things to do. Life is too short to just grind poker.”
CP: “A lot of poker coaches will tell you to learn to beat one table at a time, then the rest becomes easier, would you agree with this advise?”
Mark Radoja: “Tournaments can be overwhelming to a lot of people when you see so many people. You absolutely just need to focus on your table and let nature take it’s course.”
CP: “Would you recommend shoot-out and short handed tournaments to the newer but serious players as a way to develop themselves?”
Mark Radoja: “I suppose so, yes. I would just warn that they be cautious and not overdue it. If they are new players they are probably not winning players so just keep the stakes low and enjoy the game. Gambling is a recreation to be enjoyed so try not to take it too serious or you can really get burnt.”
Some solid answers from an obviously solid player and guy, a big thanks to Mark Rajoda for taking this time out. We wish him all the best in the future and remainder of the WSOP!