On 23rd January 2016, a field of 102 players was set in the first ever 1 Crore GTD Main Event in India and after a gruelling action of over 19 hours across two days, Raghav Bansal clinched the trophy with Rs 30,60,000 in top prize. The 100K Main Event title of Deltin Poker Tournament presented by Adda52 came as the first trophy for Raghav who had a superb 2015 with several money-finishes at the live felt including a Final Table finish in WSOP event.
In a conversation with OPN, Raghav shares his experiences of the tournament and his poker journey till date. He recalls some of the best moments and turning points in the Main Event and also shares his plans of 2016 poker outings towards the end of the conversation.
Q1. Congratulations Raghav on winning the DPT Main Event. How was the experience playing the tournament and the overall series?
Raghav – Thank you! The DPT was a very well organized series with good deep structures. The main event especially had a better structure than even most world series events which is awesome to see at home . It was a great experience to play these tourneys and I hope that the DPT will be a regular stop on the tournament circuit from this year.
Q2. Please tell us about yourself and your poker journey for our readers.
Raghav – So I started playing poker casually with friends way back at university and played in bits and pieces till a couple of years back when I decided to take the leap of faith and start playing full time. It was not that I was doing really well or anything back when I made this decision but it really helped me focus all my energy on poker and I started taking it very seriously. I feel I have come a long way in these 2 years and i want to continue on this path.
Apart from poker I am huge football fan and my favourite team is AC Milan. I have been supporting them for around 13 years now and I was lucky enough to witness one of the most stunning sights in all of sports when I went to watch the Milan Derby (Ac Milan vs Internazionale) in September in Milan. That was definitely on my top 5 on my bucket list. Recently i have picked up a weird obsession for golf ! Haha
Q3. You have been playing tournaments mostly overseas. How did DPT come in plan?
Raghav – DPT happened just in the spur of the moment. Pranav Bagai randomly texted me saying I have booked your room, just book your flight and come over and that’s it. Haha..! Cheers for that Bro!
Q4. After a successful 2015 which included Final Table of WSOP event, how do you see the DPT Main Event win to start off in 2016?
Raghav – To be honest I had a bit of a purple patch after the World Series of Poker but I haven’t been playing as many tournaments as I’d like to be either. This win really sets me up well for the months leading up to my second world series in May (which I am really excited about!).
I have been working hard on my game since I got back and have the IPC and Macau Poker Cup coming up. I plan to play a lot more live tourneys now leading up to Vegas.
And yeah I had never won a trophy before so it was beautiful to finally get one, and that too in such a stacked field in one of the biggest main events ever held in India.
Q5. It was a star-studded final table in the Main Event and you entered 2nd in chip count, a little less than Dhaval Mudgal. What was your strategy on Final Table?
Raghav – Dirty and I had a pretty big lead over the rest of the table to start off. I was fortunate to draw immediate position on him which allowed me to play my natural aggressive style without having to worry about another big stack behind me who could cause damage.
Still, it was a stacked final table with a lot of friends who are really good. My plan was to start putting pressure on the short stacks straight off the bat. I won a couple of flips and the pay jumps were getting serious which allowed me to pick up even more uncontested pots as no one wanted to bust against the crazy chip leader!
I ran good in a few spots and especially one against Romit which was quite cruel – owe him one for that! Also pulled off some big bluffs which worked so it went well.
Q6. At one point of time on the Final Table, you had half of the chips in play. Which was that crucial hand which propelled you up?
Raghav – I think one of the most crucial hands was when Romit opened from middle position and Akash Malik called and I called from the big blind with Q3 of clubs. The flop was 644 two clubs and I checked, Romit bet, Malik raised and I jammed effectively 480k in a pot of 170k with my draw believing they would have to fold super strong hands. They told me later they had QQ and KK! It was a great spot to pull off this big bluff and I’m glad I pulled the trigger. This got me back the chip lead from Dhaval and it just went uphill from there.
Q7. It was an epic top 3 battle with Dhaval Mudgal, Akash Malik and you. Your thoughts on those 2 hours of play?
Raghav – Yup. That 3 way battle WAS pretty epic. They’re really good players and close friends and we play together in Delhi a lot. It felt like a home game but on the table we’re all pretty competitive. Like they love saying on the table – APNA APNA (karlo) haha !
So the final three started with the stacks pretty unevenly distributed as Malik had the shortest stack and I had around half the chips in play. Dirty was right in the middle. We were all still pretty deep though and there was a lot of play left. The difference between 2nd and 3rd was substantial enough to allow me to keep the pressure on. I extended my lead quite a bit before I doubled Dirty up KQ vs AJ. Then he started playing aggressive and won a few pots in a row and took the chip lead.
A crucial hand happened then where I 5bet jammed on Dirty and got a fold which allowed me to then go back on the offense and complete the job.
Q8. The main event was played across 26 levels which is over 19 hours of play. What keeps you going in long running tournaments?
Raghav – To be honest I landed in Goa like 2 hours before the tournament started. So on the first day after like 8 hours of play I was completely exhausted.
The next day was tiring as well but once you go deep in a tournament and can smell victory it feels like you get this extra mental boost of energy where you may be tired but you feel super sharp mentally. So, yeah that’s what keeps me going I think – the smell of victory around the corner. haha..!
Q9. What are you poker plans for 2016?
Raghav – Travelling is one of the biggest motivations in poker for me. I really enjoy playing in different parts of the world and chilling with the locals and trying out their food, partying and just generally bumming around. So the plan for this year is to go berserk travelling to poker destination and places around them.
In terms of my plans for the actual playing part – I intend to play more live tournaments this year and I already have a sicko coach who I’m about to start getting coaching from so I’m really stoked about that.
In terms of my goals I want to win a few more tournaments this year after finally shipping a live tournament.
Most importantly though, I want to do well at the World Series in Vegas again and better my 9th place finish from last year. This, more than anything else, would give me immense satisfaction.
Follow me @raghavbansal27 on twitter – will be putting up regular updates when I travel this year!