|Robert Varkonyi is most well
known for winning the 2002
World Series of Poker main
event, taking the $2 million
prize. Because he was a
relative newcomer and
considered dead money,
commentator and fellow poker
player Phil Hellmuth agreed to
have his hair shaved off for
charity if Varkonyi won.
Robert Varkonyi (born October 7, 1961 in New York) is a professional poker
Varkonyi first started playing poker as an undergraduate at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After his graduation in 1983 (with
degrees in EECS and from the MIT Sloan School of Management), he was an
investment banker in Brooklyn, New York for a number of years before
beginning to play tournament poker.
Varkonyi is most well known for winning the 2002 World Series of Poker main
event, taking the $2 million prize. Because he was a relative newcomer and
considered dead money, commentator and fellow poker player Phil Hellmuth
agreed to have his hair shaved off for charity if Varkonyi won. Hellmuth made
good on his promise, and even allowed Varkonyi to shave some of it off.
In the 2003 World Series of Poker Varkonyi's chance of a repeat
championship was dashed when his pocket Kings met Scotty Nguyen's pocket
Since his win Varkonyi has become a columnist for Card Player magazine. He
also made an instructional poker video, Wise Guys on Texas Hold'em,
featuring some of the cast of The Sopranos.
Varkonyi currently resides in Great Neck, New York with his wife Olga, who
also plays poker, and daughter. He named his daughter Victoria after his
World Series win. Olga made a nice showing at the 2005 World Series of
Poker main event, finishing in the money at 238th.
Robert Varkonyi is the winner of the 2002 World Series of Poker Main Event.
Robert is a semi-poker professional who thinks poker is great fun. He is also
a representative of online poker room InterPoker. At the time of this writing,
he was cheering on his wife Olga Varkonyi who was one of the chip leaders
in Day 2 of the 2005 Main Event.
New York, 1961
Long Island, NY
Father of a two and half year old daughter, Victoria (named after Robert's
2002 WSOP victory)
Married to Olga Varkonyi, one of the chip leaders in Day 2 of the 2005 WSOP
Semi-professional poker player
Used to build trading systems on Wall Street
Worked as a Vice President of Goldman-Sachs
Biggest Poker Accomplishment:
2002 - WSOP, $10,000 Main Event, No-Limit Hold'em; 1st, $2,000,000
What have you been doing since you won the 2002 WSOP?
I have been involved in all sorts of different projects. For example, I
developed a new casino game with a partner of mine, although it didn't
become a success in the end. I made an instructional video called "Wise guys
on Texas Hold'em" with some of the cast from the TV-show "the Sopranos." I
was in a documentary called "Poker Kings," which featured Phil Hellmuth
among others. And, I have also been involved in charity poker tournaments
and given speeches on poker.
How have you been doing in this year's WSOP?
I have only played in the Main Event and went out on Day 1. I won small pots
and lost big pots which is not the way you win a tournament.
How much poker do you play these days?
As much as I can. I've played 4-5 Professional Poker Tour events (Robert got
a three year card because of his 2002 WSOP win), I also go to Foxwoods and
Atlantic City on occasion.
What happened in 2002, how did you win it?
I was totally focused, played nearly perfect poker, and caught a few lucky
breaks. I played very gutsy and with no fear. But today it's different; when I
won it we were only 631 entrants. Now you need even more luck and also
What's your deal with online poker room InterPoker?
They sponsor me in a few tournaments and I will also do some system
consulting with them.
Your wife Olga is one of the chip leaders in Day 2 of the Main Event. Tell me a
little bit about her?
I actually taught her how to play poker two weeks before I won the Main
Event, but that was Seven-Card Stud. She is originally from Russia where she
worked as a school teacher, teaching English. Here in the United States she
has been working as a Russian/English translator and interpreter. I am going
to watch her play until she wins it hopefully.
What does the future look like for you?
First, I am going to watch my wife win the Main Event. I am trying to live a
balanced life that combines regular work and poker. I will continue to enjoy
spending time with my family, especially my beautiful and amazing daughter
Victoria. She has been the greatest experience of my life.