She is attractive! She is articulate! She is focused!But she is all of 25! and She is passionate about Poker! Meet Muskan Sethi, a Poker Diva at first glance but a very focused and attentive poker player at a serious look. The only female poker player from India to play at the WSOP two years in a row! She recently went on to play with poker pros like Jason Mercier and Liv Boeree at the Pokerstars Shark Cage, a televised poker show by the biggest poker site in the world where she even put Mike Mc Donald in the cage after managing to carry a bluff ahead with him.
An exclusive chat with the self confessed poker addict who aims not to win the WSOP Main Event but be crowned the first ever Team Pro of PokerStars from India. Presenting Muskan Sethi, the poker player who is an example for the fledgling poker scene in India.
Q.1 Congratulations on being selected for the PokerStars shark Cage. How was the experience in Barcelona?
MS– Shark Cage was an out of this world experience. I played with poker pros like Jason Mercier, Liv Boeree, Mike Mc Donald and Sam Grafton of Runitonce. It was an all expenses paid trip for me to Barcelona and wearing that PokerStars badge while playing at the Shark Cage table was like a dream come true. The shark cage televised table worked in a way that whoever successfully bluffs a player gets to send him to the cage for a complete round. I managed to do this for Mike Mc Donald and he had to spend one complete poker game round in the cage. It was so awesome interacting with the players who were so supportive especially Live Boeree whom I have always idolised. I came second in Round 1 and if I had come 1st then I would have advanced to the next table.
Q.2 Could you run us through how you qualified for the Shark Cage?
MS– Yes. I was actually playing one evening and happened to see this Freeroll qualifiers for a TV show by Shark Cage. I read up on the format of the same and immediately got interested. I made a deposit and got 10 tickets to play this freeroll where the final 20 poker players would get to send a video audition. I played the same on a gut feeling and came 10th. My payout was USD 100 and was asked to make a 2 minutes audition. I made an audition at home myself and send it to PokerStars. While playing at the 2014 WSOP in Las Vegas, I was asked to give a poker quiz where I answered all the questions correctly. During this time itself, I was selected in the final 4 which entitled me to play the Shark Cage during EPT Barcelona with Team Pokerstars Pros who are the best poker players in the world.
Q.3 How would you rate your performance at the 2014 WSOP?
MS– It was my second outing at the WSOP this year. I wasn’t supposed to go since I was going through a tough time personally. In a last minute decision when I won a good amount at PokerStars that I decided to take the trip. And it was a fruitful one for sure as I came 55th in Event 55 cashing $7,827. Everyone took notice of me and I got to hang out and talk to the best players in the world. The Indian poker community was a huge support to me during this travel. They railed me a lot and encouraged me to follow my dream.
Q.4 How did you get associated with Faraz Jaka? How has mentorship with him helped your poker?
MS– I met Faraz Jaka during the 2013 WSOP when I was playing several side events. My intention during this first trip to Vegas was to get to meet the players and understand my temperament of playing poker at the highest level. I got to hang out with Faraz Jaka and Liv Boeree during this time and received many useful tips. They helped me strategise on bankroll management. Liv was so encouraging all the time and pushed me a lot to keep pursuing poker always. After the 2013 WSOP, I spoke to Faraz over the phone and he would explain gaming strategies to me. I also took coaching from him on Skype where he gave me an extremely important session on poker tells.
Q.5 Going back the years, how did you start playing poker? Could you chart out your poker journey for our readers?
MS– My dad used to watch poker and I got into the habit of watching it with him. As a family, we used to play flush/teen patti and I used to win a lot. It was 3 years ago that I watched Phil Ivey in one of the poker videos. I was so impressed that I showed the videos to my father also. I kept on watching his videos and decided that some day I have to beat him. Phil Ivey along with Liv Boeree are the reasons why I started playing poker. Ever since I started 3 years back, I haven’t stopped but my goals are yet to be achieved.
Q.6 Poker in India is still to get its dues. For female poker players, it is a rougher terrain to tread. How has your family reacted to your poker passion?
MS– My parents were always fine with me playing online poker. They would always tell me to continue playing as long as I didn’t play physical poker in Delhi. It was my mother(who passed away this year) who was my biggest support. My mom along with poker were the only two things in my life that made me happy. Now poker is my single point goal since my mother always wanted me to excel at it. She understood my passion for poker and used to say that I should follow it as long as it keeps me happy.
Q.7 What comes next? Where do you see yourself years from now?
MS– I will be playing at EPT London in October. I am trying to qualify through online satellites but if I am unable to do so, then I will buy-in directly and play. My larger poker goal in life is to be a PokerStars Team Pro- the first one from India. And my goal in life is to do a lot of social work. I just love to help, it keeps me grounded when I help people and involve myself with the society. My mother had an NGO and I wish to carry the legacy ahead of social ahead.
All Power to Muskan for following her dreams in poker and life.
OPN thanks Muskan Sethi for the lovely poker chat!