Chips at the WSOP main event final table: 27.3 million (6/9)
WSOP Cashes: 17 WSOP Bracelets: 0
WSOP Earnings: $138,585
Total career tournament earnings: $1,246,791
Total career tournament cashes: 59 A
* All stats exclude the 2016 WSOP main event
There is a lot of talent and experience among the 2016 November Nine, and that, perhaps, is why Vojtech Ruzicka has largely remained under the radar in the buildup to the World Series of Poker main event final table.
Ruzicka is one of six players at this final table with at least $1 million in lifetime tournament cashes outside of this run in the WSOP main event, and like a number of other players at this final table, he has his roots deeply embedded in the world of online poker. There were five straight years in which Ruzicka earned at least $250,000 in tournament cashes online, including a 2011 run culminating in a second-place finish in the WCOOP main event. Despite the breadth of his success, which also includes a 2013 EPT Deauville High Roller win, Ruzicka has been somewhat overshadowed by chip leader Cliff Josephy and several players with whom he shares similar résumés, including Gordon Vayo, Kenny Hallaert, Griffin Benger and Jerry Wong. A lot of that could stem from his quiet, reserved personality.
"I am not a controversial person. I avoid conflict, and sometimes that comes at a cost to me," Ruzicka said in an interview with Liba Foord for Cardplayer Lifestyle. "This might be due to my laziness, as well, since facing a dispute or an argument takes a lot of effort and energy. I avoid conflict simply for my own comfort."
No matter how low a profile he has had to this point in his poker career, Ruzicka instantly gained a few levels of notoriety within the poker world, especially in his home country of the Czech Republic, by making the most famous final table in poker. The last Czech player to earn a spot in the November Nine was Martin Staszko, who was the runner-up to Pius Heinz in 2011.
Ruzicka has had success elsewhere, but this run in the main event is a big step up on a stage where his results are somewhat limited. He had his first WSOP cash back in 2011, but his only true finish of note prior to this year's WSOP cam in a $1,500 bounty no limit hold 'em event at the 2015 WSOP; Ruzicka finished seventh for $42,228, his biggest WSOP cash by more than three times his next-largest result, prior to making the November Nine.
His run in the 2016 WSOP main event got off to a powerful start, as he bagged a top-15 stack on Day 1B and coasted among the top stacks through Days 2 and 3, as well. The first signs of trouble for Ruzicka came on Day 4, as he wasn't able to chip up much and needed to hit a three-outer on the river just to make it through to the end of the day. He thrived and hit his full stride during Days 5 and 6, taking the chip lead into the final playdown day of the summer.
While Ruzicka avoided a dreaded fate of failing to turn the chip lead into a ticket to November, he did falter early in the day and had to fight his way back to make the main event final table.
“It's a big responsibility and I didn't handle it so well the first few hours,” Ruzicka said in an interview with PokerNews' Mo Nuwwarah. “I was losing basically every pot I played. I started tilting a bit, which was not good.”
Once he settled down and had a fortunate cooler situation fall in his favor -- he picked up pocket aces and held for a full double-up against ace-king -- Ruzicka maintained his stack and pushed his way through to November.
In the immediate aftermath, his plans took a back seat to recovery.
"What I know is that I have to prepare for this as [strongly] as possible," Ruzicka said shortly after making the final table. "I'll probably play EPTs, but I'll need three weeks of rest first."
After taking the time to recover, Ruzicka elected to be a bit more coy about his approach -- a change of pace in an environment in which many players have been all too quick to reveal who their coaches are or their methods of preparation.
"I don't want to fully reveal my plan," Ruzicka told Foord. "I have a few ideas. I started with a theoretical training, and the practical will follow. I’m aiming for an intensive preparation. I may be limited by the fact I will also play a lot of events, but I believe I can handle this."