To Ram Vaswani, it’s not the size of the bet that counts. “It’s proper play,” he insists, “and with that, the money doesn’t affect me at all.”
Actually, there’s nothing that seems to affect Ram Vaswani, least of all the trappings that accompany his role as a poker celebrity. I caught up with Ram at the Four Queens, between tournaments and promotional gigs for The Hendon Mob, where he was candid and optimistic about life and the game of tournament poker. Although Ram’s poker accomplishments already read like a decent career, he quietly talks as if he’s just getting started. And you can believe him.
Ram didn’t start out as a professional poker player, but he was never that far away. Growing up in Finchley, London, he tells the story of a card game he played in at school from which he would use the money he won to buy sweets. One day the boys were banned from playing for money, so Ram had all the players go out and buy sweets to bring to the game, and after that, they played cards for the sweets. The school couldn’t ban a game for sweets.
Vaswani played snooker from an early age, bunking off school when he was 14 and 15 to make money playing for tenners and twenties. He turned professional at 19, when, he said, he was “good enough to make a living, but not good enough to be at the very top of the game.” When asked if he’d ever hit a century, though, Ram was incredulous, modest about his talent until pressed. “One forty-seven, mate! I once had three centuries in a match!”
And if it all comes down to skill and talent, you have to like …