The hospitality industry, unfairly or not, bears a reputation for work-hard-play-hard debauchery, degeneracy, vice and fiscal irresponsibility by both its patrons and employees. Despite owning a popular restaurant and loving poker, Ronnie Pasztor doesn’t embody or identify with that stereotype.
“I wouldn’t consider myself an overly risky person” he said during an interview in early May at Sticky Rice, the Asianmeets-pub-fare-fusion spot he co-owns in Fells Point.
Seated in a private room with graffiti-covered walls, Pasztor, 42, cuts the image of a service industry lifer. His intense eyes and demonstrative gesticulation suggests the gregariousness of someone used to managing the front and back of the house. But Pasztor, self-employed since coming to Baltimore from southern California almost a decade ago, is an accountant by trade who knows he can’t bet the farm on poker.
“I never bought into a game trying to pay rent, buy food or pay my employees,” he said. “As far as risk is concerned, I would never scratch together $10,000 to go play when I didn’t just have $10,000.”
That’s the sum Pasztor would have had to pay to buy into the no-limit Texas hold’em competition at the 50th World Series of Poker (WOSP), which starts on Wednesday, July 3 in Las Vegas, had he not won a spot through a satellite tournament at the Horseshoe Baltimore Casino. . Games with smaller buy-ins that kicked off May 29 all lead up to this contest, also known as the “Main Event,” at the Rio AllSuite Hotel & Casino this week
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Ronnie Pasztor, co-owner of The Rice Bowl in Fells Point, will compete at the 50th World Series of Poker in Las Vegas after winning a tournament at the Horseshoe Casino.