Heads up with Adda52 Millions Winner – Pratik

winner_adda52millionsThe last Sunday of every month brings a huge opportunity for Indian poker players to rise and shine in the biggest online tournament of the month – Adda52 Millions. In the month of July, 172 players joined in to play this tournament which overshot its guarantees of 15 Lacs to 19.5 Lacs. After around 7 hours of grind, it was pratikks taking down the top prize money of Rs 5,26,500 beating hurr_hurr heads up.

Interestingly, Pratik signed up on Adda52 via OPN and got hooked to the non stop action on India’s largest poker site. OPN India spoke to Pratik about his grand success. Here are the excerpts of the conversation:

Hi Pratik, thanks for your conversation with OPN. Tell us about your poker journey till date.

Pratik – I started playing poker in 2008. For the next few years it was typically restricted to house games and social gatherings. In the last one year, I wanted to play a lot more but could not find the circle. That is when a friend pointed me to online poker sites in India which were absolutely legal. I started playing online 4 months back and now it’s become a serious affair.

What was your feeling right after winning it?

Pratik – I was ecstatic after winning it. It was a tough night. I had to come to my hometown due to an emergency and I had to deal with the flaky 3g signal. But after 7 hours of grind, it was all worth it. This was biggest poker winning till date.

How was the field and what do you think propelled you to the top?

Pratik – This was my first tourney on Adda52 and so I didn’t know most of the players or at least their handles were new to me. Since it was a big stake game, there were very few fishes that I came across. The field was very competitive and the players were extremely patient.  In most of the tournaments I play, I am very tight in the beginning which means that for most of the tournament, I am short stacked and trying to survive. What propelled me to the top in this case was that for most of the 7 hours I was always in top 10.

What was the turning point for you in this tournament?

Pratik – I think for me the turning point was pretty early on. I doubled-up in the first 30 minutes itself, which gave me a great boost. It also made me shift gears from being tight to being more creative and to constantly win small pots to remain on top.

You beat “hurr_hurr” heads-up to win the tourney. Share your heads up gameplay.

Pratik  – When I started playing tournaments 4 months back, I was pretty bad at heads-up. After doing a lot of reading and watching different videos, my strategy has become pretty simple – tire your opponent out. With “hurr_hurr”, I lost half my stack at one point, but aggressively got it back in the next hand itself. After that it was all about waiting to catch a shove. And that’s what I did, with a lot of luck on river in the final hand 🙂

How much poker do you play on an average?

Pratik – I make sure that I play 1-2 tournaments everyday (approximately 1-2 hours) plus I have 30 minutes of reading/watching videos that I do religiously. Since I am new to the scene, I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to books and videos 🙂

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years? – A cash game grinder or a tournament pro?

Pratik – Definitely a Tournament pro. I don’t play for the money. I play for the thrill. So I guess, it will always be 90-10 in favour of tournaments

Who do you idolize in Poker, both in India and Internationally?

Pratik – I am a huge fan of Daniel Negreanu. I love his play and always am amazed by his ability to read other players. And he is one of the best ambassadors of the game

What do you do when not playing Poker?

Pratik  – I co-founded an internet and e-commerce consulting firm 15 months back. When I am not playing poker, I am helping start-ups grow through my knowledge and experience in product and marketing.

What is your one Poker dream?

Pratik – I have two, actually. One, like any other poker player, to take part in WSOP. Two, get a chance to be at the same table as Daniel Negreanu at least once in my lifetime

Poker as a game of skill is getting popular in the country. What should be done to promote this game more?

Pratik – There are three things I believe that needs to be done. One is on the legal front. There still are some grey areas, and the ambassadors of the game should advocate to remove all doubts around poker being a game of skill and not chance.

Secondly, a lot of effort must be made to promote poker as a game of skill through media and create awareness around it. Sports channels should stream poker tournaments on TV. Poker strategy, the game theory and mathematics around it should be taught in colleges. There should be more coverage of Indian pro players in the media.

And lastly, effort should be made by poker associations, websites etc. to promote this sport in college. The biggest regret of my life is that I wish somebody told me about poker when I was in college. It’s like 10-15 years of missed opportunity. The average age of WSOP final table keeps reducing every year. There are lot of Americans in their late teens and early twenties getting into this game. It’s time India also “ships it”.