2015 ACOP Kicks off Today; OPN Chats With Kunal Patni About His Spadie Hunt

kunap-patni-2015-acopAsia Championship of Poker, the biggest and the richest poker festival in Asia is starting today at the PokerStars LIVE, Macau. The 17-day long poker fiesta will bring 15 Spadie title events including the HKD $15,000,000 guaranteed Main Event.

The ACOP series has been special for one Indian player who started his professional poker career by winning the inaugural event Spadie trophy of 2014 ACOP. He has fetched several notable scores in the Asian poker arena in past one year and is ready to hit the ACOP felt. With a consistent performance across the events in past 12 months, he has found a place in the Top 20 players of Asia on the Asia Player of the Year leaderboard.

The description leads to only one player – Adda52 Team Spades pro Kunal Patni.  OPN spoke to Kunal before he left for Macau about his preparations for the series and his thoughts on similar bigger events in the Asian circuit. Here are the excerpts of the conversation:

OPN – Thanks Kunal for talking to OPN ahead of your 2015 Asia Championship of Poker outing. As we all know your mainstream poker journey begun with winning the Spadie last year in the same tournament, how do you feel hitting the same turf?

KP – I am super excited about being back to ACOP where it all started for me. It was a dream run for me at ACOP last year. Winning the Spadie in my first ever international tournament followed by another cash, another final table, winning the satellite to the high roller and a couple of other deep runs, was fantastic. Frankly I will be happy if I can achieve even half of what happened last year.

OPN – Which all events are on your cards this year?

KP – I will be playing all the events leading upto the main event including the Warm Up. The only Spadie event that I am missing is the Omaha event. I am hoping that I win the satellite to the main event so that I can play the main event also.

OPN – You have been playing in the Asian circuit continuously after WSOP this year. However, you had a few weeks of break from tournament poker before 2015 ACOP. Brief us about your preparations before this tournament.

KP – My last two series – Manila and Macau were extremely satisfying for me with 6 final table finishes. After that I took a well-deserved break. Have played some cash games in Mumbai recently. I have spent much of my time in the last 3 weeks improving my game. Have got a coach for myself from Costa Rica – Michael Acevedo and he has been fantastic in identifying the leaks in my game and ensuring that I play better poker. I have also finished a couple of poker books and seen a lot of poker videos to help improve my game. I am feeling quite confident as I leave for Macau.

OPN – 9 Final Tables after the ACOP Spadie last year but you missed the title after getting very close to it. Your thoughts on breaking this jinx at ACOP?

KP – Yeah it’s been a bit disappointing that I have made 9 Final Tables since the Spadie and couldn’t even convert one of them into a title. Came very close to it twice and ended up losing heads up. I don’t think that I have played badly at the final table, just that things haven’t gone my way. I am really hoping at breaking the jinx at ACOP. It would be great to do so as no one has won two Spadies till date and that would be a sweet way to end the title draught.

OPN – You sit in the 19th place on the APOY Rankings. Where would you like to see yourself at the end of ACOP?

KP – Frankly I am pleasantly surprised and very happy to see myself in the top 20 in the rankings. I have played far lesser tournaments in Macau and PS Live Manila this year as compared to the other players on the list. They obviously never miss any of the series and unfortunately I can’t travel for each series. So my conversion rate is quite high compared to them and that’s a very satisfying piece of statistics indeed. I still have an outside chance to break into the top ten if I have a couple of good tournaments at ACOP. You never know !!

OPN – ACOP is a 17-day long series. What keeps you going in such a long poker outing?

KP – All these series are extremely tiring physically and mentally. We play poker about 10-12 hours daily and get back to the same the next day. I guess it’s just my love for “tournament” poker which keeps me going. I love being on the poker table and just playing the game. The Indian contingents who usually travel together during these series is a big help. All of us bond really well and the time we spent together away from the poker table really helps each and everyone unwind properly.

OPN – You have been a consistent performer in the Asian tournaments. What makes the Asian felt so special for you?

KP – I don’t really know what works for me. I guess it’s my playing style. I am a tight aggressive player. The field is more towards the loose aggressive side in these series. Maybe thats why things have worked for me. As they say, play tight when the table is loose and play loose when the table is tight. LOL

I definitely have a lot more patience compared to some of these players. I can go for an hour or more without playing a single hand if I am card dead. Not too many players do that. I have seen a lot of them gift away their chips with marginal hands when they are card dead. I think you would rarely see me do that.

OPN – Which all opponents do you find playing tough against in Macau and other Asian tournaments?

KP – Oh the toughest opponents in these circuits are definitely the players from India. I have said this earlier and would say it again, the Indian poker pros are amongst the best in the Asian circuit. Most of the Indian players know their game so well and no wonder we have done so well in these series over the last couple of years. I would prefer if none of these pros from India are on my table. ha ha ha.

Other than that, there is a lot of mutual respect for other top players from Asia and we don’t try and get into too many hands against each other. There are seven other players on the table we can fight against.

OPN – Indian players have done well throughout 2015 at the overseas felt. A bigger Indian contingent has been going to such tournaments. Although poker is an individual sport, how does this team-bonding works on foreign soil?

KP – I have written a blog also about this earlier. It’s such a big help to have your friends around you during these series. They help you when you have a bad day, they help you in analysing your hands and understanding where we went wrong and they obviously help you to put your hair down and have a great party to unwind. Without the others being around, it can get really lonely at times and that affects you game also indirectly. All of us who travel together to these series thankfully bond really well with each other and that is such an awesome thing.