2014 was a mixed bag for Indian poker. While the tournament scene saw a lull with live tournament players yearning for action, it was the online grinders who made hay. Starting with Amit ‘bblacklegend‘ Jain’s PokerStars Sunday 500 victory to Danish Sheikh reaching a career high with a 2nd place finish in the PokerStars TCOOP Main Event to an unknown Indian kingplayer19 taking 2nd in the Sunday Millions, its been a great year for online poker in India.
Keeping in view of the performances gone by and the expectations ahead, we present a list of Indian poker players to watch out in 2015. These are the players who burn the midnight oil and have the whole poker community raise a toast to their wins. Some of them shone in 2014 and are expected to continue in 2015 while some of these are showing tremendous promise to hold the Indian poker baton in the year ahead. OPN India presents the top poker players to rail in 2015. The list is in random order.
1. Raahil Bhatia– The Delhi based qualified engineer Raahil Bhatia who has had a roller coaster poker ride has established himself as a solid cash game player railed by the community as a whole. His poker journey dates back to 2006 when he was exposed to the game while in college in the USA. That’s where he picked up the inkling for cash games and continued it both online and live. He has since seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But 2014 has been a great year where he got down to the online tables and turned the odds in online poker tournaments. Be it his WCOOP exploit in Sept 2014 where he finished the runners up in Event 12, $215 NLHE Heads Up where he almost had a brush with history. With $29,386.14 for this victory, he had other great runs during 2014 including a early year The Hot $44 win for $12,205.76 and 2nd place finish at the PokerStars The Bigger $109 for $36,989.00.
In Raahils words though, his biggest wins of 2014 are different. “The two highlights of 2014 for me have been a 6th place finish in the Sunday 500 in December 2014 which is one of the toughest tournaments to crack. Other than that the WCOOP 2014 was a very memorable one. I didn’t play the full schedule due to other commitments but had 7 cashes and at a time was in the Top 30 of the WCOOP Leaderboard.” Add to that the fact that Raahil only resumed playing online in November 2013 after a six year hiatus and his achievements look gigantic.
2. Sahil Aggarwal– This poker player from Bhubaneshwar is the most talked about young player in the Indian poker community. He has gained the respect of the Indian pros and is idolised by the amateurs. All of 26 years and Sahil ‘antilog‘ Aggarwal has made a place for himself on both the online as well as physical games. He started the year on a good note by winning the PokerStars $16.50 in January for $18,374, 3rd place in the PokerStars $320 NLHE for $15,621, took second in the $166 PokerStars NLHE event for $19,500 in April 2014, 5th in the PokerStars $215 for over $16,307 in May and 2nd place in Pokerstars WCOOP -21 for $2,523. He cashed in the 2014 WSOP on debut in Event 60 and ended the year on a high winning the 10K Event of the TILT Poker Festival in Bangalore.
3. Amit Jain– Amit ‘bblacklegend‘ Jain was the player credited for kickstarting a great year for Indians when he took down the Sunday 500 on 2nd January 2014. His consistent run through the year both online as well as in live tournaments makes him someone to watch out for in the year to come. A Mumbai businessman by day and poker player by night, Amit’s online success spilled to the physical felts when he took down the DR Cup Main Event in March 2014 at Casino Deltin Royale, Goa. He peaked in October when he final tabled 6 events to win more than $25K on PokerStars making it a ‘Thunderous Thursday’ for him. Some of his remarkable runs in 2014 include placing 3rd in the $320 Wed Hundred Grand for $12,408 in Dec, a 4th place for $5100 in the PS Carnival Hot 55 in November, 27th place in Event 45 of the WCOOP in September for $11,656 and winning the Hot 109 in April.
4. Tushar Makhija– Tushar Makhija’s tryst with poker goes back a long way. From playing in the tournaments in Goa when the Indian poker scene boomed in 2010-11 to becoming one of the biggest names that India’s largest poker site, adda52.com boasts of, ‘tushmakster‘ has to his names some sensational wins. From winning Rs. 2,24,000 for the 7 Lakhs PMT Finale at adda52.com to the Poker Kings VIP with a giveaway of Rs. 125,000 in gifts, Tushar is also a very successful cash game player. Credited as being one of the oldest players at the site, he is definitely someone to watch out in 2015.
5. Aditya Sushant– Be it the virtual felt or live poker, Aditya Sushant is the name that Indian poker is synonymous with. He had made history in June 2013 by finishing second in the coveted Sunday Million at PokerStars. He has been in the limelight for the past few years and is for sure the new wave that Indian poker is seeing now. With double WSOP cashes in 2014 and a couple of inroads in the Indian tournament scene- ‘Donk0bomber‘ won the House of Spew(THOS) Main Event held in Bangalore and later this year cashed twice in the TILT Poker Festival with a 4th place finish in the Main Event. He also credits himself for several other online victories like the Big 109 in April 2014 and 11th place in WCOOP-47 for $5,438.
Disclaimer– Players chosen are based on their 2014 performances and OPN India doesn’t wish to demean anyone by excluding anyone from the list. We have tried our best to consolidate all poker results of the year but if we have missed out on any of your stellar performances, then we apologise. Its you guys, the Players who are Poker Gods, we are mere mortals who commit errors.