Rancho Santa Fe resident finishes in top 10 at World Series of Poker

By Kathy Day

Playing in neighborhood poker games in Rancho Santa Fe got Randy Podolsky going and now he’s competing in tournaments.

The Coldwell Banker real estate agent says the key to improving is that “the more hands you play, the better you get.”

Noting that he’s “always a student,” he plays nightly online, although since the U.S. game was shut down, he plays tournaments with play money, and also watches “some fantastic videos on YouTube, he said.

He’s heading for Las Vegas again soon — “I go as often as I can.”

And he had a good run at the World Series of Poker’s Harrah’s Rincon St. Patrick’s Day Tournament where he placed 10th out of 487 players. In the WSOP competition prior to that one, he placed 85th out of 331 players.

At the end of the first day he was down to about 1,500 chips after 11 hours of games, moving from table to table and facing different groups of eight or nine players all day. Down that low, he said, he was concerned as he entered Day 2 with a short stack.

But he played on. The day started at noon with 80 players and he played until 11 p.m., when he went out as the 10th player. The final round didn’t end until 9 a.m. the next day with the winner’s take $30,182; Podolsky took home $2,259.

“The adrenalin keeps you going,” he said, “that and a lot of coffee.”

He calls poker “a game of patience and outwitting the opponent … If you treat every hand the same way they’ll figure you out.”

Podolsky, 47, has been among the top three agents in Rancho Santa Fe’s Coldwell Banker office since he joined the company eight years ago.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur and salesman all my life,” he said.

He also says he loves taking a risk. Playing cards is one risk. He also buys homes site unseen at auctions on the courthouse steps, he said. “You never know when you walk in what you’ll find.”

Before moving to the area, he had sold two companies in the Seattle area. One was a retail computer store with about 50 employees.

“In 1993, I opened an account for a guy who was working in his garage, starting a company,” Podolsky said. “When he told me the name, I thought it was kind of funny –”

So that guy was Jeff Bezos, founder of the online retail giant, who for years bought all of his computers from Podolsky.

When he got to the Ranch, he started playing cards with neighbors and now he’s a regular player at Oceanside’s OceansEleven cardroom where he can be found two to three nights a week.

“It’s an addicting game,” he conceded, but it’s OK “as long as everything’s in moderation.”