Samad Razavi on winning the APT Player of the Year(POY): An Exclusive Interview

Pic Courtey: APT
Pic Courtey: APT

Samad Razavi won the Asian Poker Tour(APT) Player of the Year(POY) for the second year in a row proving his supremacy in the Asia Pacific region. The poker pro from England won 5 ATP titles and 21 ITM finishes. He even topped last years performance when he had notched the  POY crown after winning 3 APT Titles. 

OPN caught up with with Samad Razavi exclusively to get a pulse of his journey so far and plans ahead. Below are the excerpts of the chat on a social media channel with our Editor, Rupal Bansal.

1. Hi Samad, thanks for chatting with OPN. Firstly congratulations on winning the APT POY two years in a row.  For readers who don’t know much about you, please tell us how you got into playing poker?

Sam Razavi: I was working an acting job about 9 years ago and one evening after rehearsals one of the actors suggested we play poker. I was hooked, played and lost for about a year and then had a month where I won a few tournaments online and did well at the cash games, and haven’t looked back since.

2. Going into this Iron Man Poker Challenge, did you strategize to be a part of history by lasting for long?

Sam Razavi: I definitely wanted to last until at least the record was broken, and of course winning a one-of-a-kind tournament like this would have been awesome. But I really wasn’t sure how it would pan out. I had the idea that if I was going to win the longest running tournament in the world, and given the name ‘Iron Man’, that it would be fitting to live up to that. So I decided I would play from the start with no breaks whatsoever.

I lasted about 32 hours and finished 11th. It was a disappointment but those 32 hours took a lot out of me. On the last two tables I was approaching a million chips, close to 200 bbs. In a normal tournament with the players that remained and if I was well rested going into those final two tables, I would have been very disappointed not to have made top 3 at least.. I played awful those last two tables and gave my chips away!  Playing tired is the worst thing you can do, it’s worse than playing drunk. I’ve done both and I can attest to that. Obviously in this case I didn’t have much choice.

3. What would be the three tips you would give to new players on playing in a big tournament like APT?

Sam Razavi: Number 1, have a good feel for playing poker in a live environment. If there is a local casino that runs some low stakes tournaments, get in there and throw some chips around. It can be very daunting going into a big tournament with little live experience, and the nerves can work against you. Try to be as relaxed as possible.

Secondly, don’t be intimidated by anyone, no matter how aggressive they are or if they are a very well known player with millions of dollars in earnings. Poker is just a game. You win some, you lose some. Spend less time worrying about your opponents and more time figuring out your plan of attack!

Lastly, the best piece of advice I could give is the most important: HAVE FUN! There are far too many serious players in the game. If you fall into that trap of being overly serious you will drain the fun from yourself and those around you. Make conversation with the other players, crack jokes, have a laugh. Your overall experience will be enhanced a thousand-fold. You will not only enjoy the game more, you will relax and give off an air of confidence about you that will gain you some respect at the table!

4. You have played and won at the APT Asian Series in India in 2012. How was your experience of poker in India?

Sam Razavi: I love travelling and experiencing new places and Indian food is one of my favourites. When I went to play in Goa it was my first time in India, so the whole experience was amazing. I just wish I had more free time to immerse myself in the culture a bit more. In terms of the actual poker, I rate my experience not on how good or bad the players are but on how much fun I have at the tables. The Indians are a lot of fun. They like a gamble, they like a laugh. I felt like I was playing at a home game away from home, and with Biryani and Cobra on tap how can you go wrong?!

5. Do you feel poker has potential to make it as a profession in India?

Sam Razavi: I think the only problem there is that the visa issues are a bit complicated for most or all nationalities. Parts of India are just dream destinations though – so if it were as easily accessible as, say, Macau, then I could really see the tournament scene flourishing over there

6. Any particular Indian poker players whom you feel can make it on the world stage?

Sam Razavi: Abhishek Goindi and Sangeeth Mohan are the two players that spring to mind immediately. They are both really exciting players and very fun characters on and off the table. However, just like we have trouble getting into India, I think they both have some restrictions that aren’t allowing them the freedom that they perhaps would like or need to really push their talents. Another very solid player that has flown a little under the radar is Karan Punjabi. I’m pretty sure he   actually lives in Australia now, but I’m not 100%. He’s another really nice guy, and a solid player that keeps quiet in a tournament and then suddenly comes out of nowhere!

7. Do you feel Asian poker scene has evolved to attract global attention?

Sam Razavi:  Absolutely. Pokerstars plays a huge part in that, particularly with the live room in Macau. Their tournaments often draw phenomenal fields that would just never have been dreamt of a few years ago in Macau. The ACOP in particular is responsible for drawing in players from all over the world. The APT is always growing but I don’t think it has the following it deserves yet. They have a team of professionals that always do an outstanding job on every stop, and they are always open and active to player feedback. I’ve always thought the APT could be one of the biggest tours in the world.

8. What do you do when not playing poker?

Sam Razavi: I’ve found a good personal trainer in Cebu where I am currently based. I go to the gym 5-6 times a week. I’m finally getting back into shape which is something that I’ve been trying and failing at miserably over the last year. Other than that my fiancée and I made a potentially unwise investment in the form of a Nintendo WII-U which is responsible for taking up much of our time these days

9. What is your one poker dream and why?

Sam Razavi: I’d love to make the final of a big WPT commentated on by Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten. Those were the shows that really got me into tournament poker, I think just the nostalgia element for me would be great. Of course, I’d love to go on to win it, but just some air time on one of those finals would be a nice souvenir of my time in this business.

10. If not a poker player then what would you be today?

Sam Razavi: I used to be an actor, something I really want to get back into one day. So I would either be an actor or I would be working as a waiter to try and fund my auditions, hehehe.

11. What is your poker goal for 2014?

Sam Razavi:  Well I have a baby on the way now with my fiancée who actually finished 2nd on the APT Player of The Year, which was a really nice result for both of us. I want to be able to find the time to  play some major tournaments and try for some big cashes in those. I’m more motivated to make money next year as opposed to taking down titles.  The more cash I make, and the quicker I   make it, the more time I can dedicate to my family. The drive for the number one spot is always  there though and I would love to win APT Player of The Year one more time. I don’t think there’s    been a triple back-to-back POY winner on any tour in the history of the game, and I think it would be a tough record to beat. That’s my only non-monetary personal poker goal for 2014!