I met Raymond Davis a few years ago while playing in Los Angeles. He
was always a likable, very polite, fun-loving young man.
He was at times a little brash about his poker abilities, but always in a
fun-loving way. I have to admit, I never took him as a serious threat to
become a world-class player — that is, until last year.
About midyear, I noticed he was doing well and winning several
tournaments. As the year progressed, he continued to do very well.
When the smoke finally cleared and the year ended, he had made 18
final tables, with nine wins, in Card Player Player of the Year qualifying
In early January of this year, I ran into Raymond at Hollywood Park
Casino. After congratulating him on a great year, I asked if I could do a
column about him, to let the poker world know a little more about him.
He said OK, so I interviewed him.
Vince Burgio: Can you give us a little bio on Raymond Davis?
Raymond Davis: I was born in Fondulac, Wisconsin, 36 years ago and
was raised in Milwaukee. I joined the United States Army at the age of
18 and was discharged after four years of service at Fort Lewis,
Washington. I settled in Seattle and lived there for about 10 years, and
moved to Los Angeles about three years ago. I am divorced and have a
14-year-old son. Currently, I live in Downey, California, and I am a
professional poker player.
VB: When did you first start playing poker?
RD: My parents introduced me to poker at the age of 8. By the age of
12, I was playing in house games.
VB: When did you start playing tournament poker?
RD: I started playing tournament poker in 1990 in Seattle. I was pretty
successful, so I decided to move to L.A. to see if I could compete on a
VB: Needless to say, it looks like you have made the adjustment very
well. Which players in the poker world do you admire most?
RD: I admire several players, particularly Jerry Buss and Frank Mariani,
because they are down-to-earth, regular guys. They have no big egos,
and are players just like everyone else.
I also admire Hasan Habib, Charlie Shoten, Randy Holland, and John
Bonetti. John was my mentor, and I learned a lot from him.
VB: Has anyone else other than John Bonetti helped you along the way?
RD: Yes. Phil Ivey and Paul Darden took me under their wings when I
first started playing. They told me what they thought my mistakes and
weaknesses were. We developed a camaraderie, and are now friends.
VB: What is your favorite game?
RD: Omaha is my favorite game, but from a financial standpoint, I have
been most successful in no-limit hold’em.
VB: How would you describe your tournament style?
RD: I think it’s more of a philosophy than a style. I try to play passively
early and aggressively as the tournament gets into the latter stages.
Plus, I concentrate a lot on the people as well as the cards.
VB: What do you think was the biggest factor in your astonishing
success last year?
RD: I think it was my determination — my will to win. That was my
VB: What are your goals for the future?
RD: I would like to win two World Poker Tour events and the main event
at the World Series of Poker. It is also important for me to withstand the
test of time — in other words, to play at a high level for several years. I
admire guys like Men Nguyen, T.J. Cloutier, Scotty Nguyen, and you, who
have that longevity. I guess, most importantly, I would like to someday
be considered the best poker player in the world.
VB: What are your hopes for the poker world in the future?
RD: I, like everyone else, am hoping that someday we will get large
corporate sponsorship, so there will be large sums of added money in
VB: Will you encourage your son to play poker or become a poker pro?
RD: A few years ago I might have said no, but now I think playing poker
has become a very respectable way to make a nice living. So, if my son
has a talent for playing, I will encourage him.
For what it’s worth …
The Amazing Raymond Davis
By Vince Burgio