Hailing from the commercial city of Mumbai, Adda52 Team Pro-Kunal Patni is one of the most respected players from India’s poker circuit. He holds a solid poker resume with $350,908 in live tournament earnings. The 38-year old quit his lucrative banking career for poker travels to various parts of the world to play several prestigious tournaments such as WSOP, WPT, MPC, DPT, etc.
Recently, Kunal finished runner-up in WPTDeepStacks Berlin Main Event and claimed a career-best score, winning an impressive $115,368. We spoke to him and here are the excerpts of the interview:
Hi Kunal, first of all, congratulations for your amazing start to 2018. Really, it is turning out to be a great year with several notable scores coming your way, especially from the WPT Events.
Kunal: Thank you very much. Yeah, it feels great to start the year in such a fashion. I am pretty happy about it and looking forward to a great 2018.
Q- You recently finished runner-up in WPTDeepStack Berlin Main Event. What does that mean to you?
Kunal: It feels amazing. It was my best score till date. Over the last 2-3 years, I made a lot of final tables, but this one is by far my biggest score and I am extremely happy about it.
Q- So, it was the biggest score till date. How did you celebrate it? Did you do something special?
Kunal: Not really. There were not many Indian players in Berlin except the Adda52 Celebrity Pro – Minissha Lamba. But thankfully, I know the WPT staff pretty well and some of them are very good friends. So, they had a get-together and they invited me to be a part of that get-together, which I really enjoyed.
Q- Any special hands or memories you want to share from WPTDeepStack Berlin Main Event?
Kunal: Just two or three hands from the FT, which are already telecasted on the Facebook page. I went to the final table as one of the shortest stacks. There was one hand when there were still 8-9 players left. A player opened from the button and the small blind called. I called with 3-7 of diamonds to defend my big blind. I had about 18 big blinds left at that time. The flop 7-7-8 was good for me. On the flop, the small blind bet, I called and the button folded. The turn was the worst card Jh where the small blind jammed and I tank-folded. Later on, when I saw the stream I realized that was a bad fold because the small blind just jammed with J-9.
After that, there were two times when I got A-Q back to back and I open-jammed twice from the late positions. The guy on my left really knew the game. He saw me jamming twice and sensed that I was capable of jamming, pretty light also. He tanked for long both times and folded. And as the luck would have it, I picked up A-A in the next hand. I tanked for a while and then I thought I had a pretty strong hand, so I took up the line of jamming over there. The same guy who folded two times before went into the tank and I was hoping that he would call but unfortunately, he folded. Fortunately for me, the small blind ( a tight player) moved all-in. The small blind had pocket Tens and I had Aces. So, I got a big double up.
The 3rd defining hand came when 4-5 people left where the guy who won the tournament opened from the UTG and another player flated in the cutoff. In the small blind, I had A-A and I three-bet. The initial raiser folded and surprisingly for me the player who flated called, which I didn’t expect. The flop was King high. I bet about 35% percent of the pot and that guy in the cutoff went for a big raise about 1.7 million. I had about 2.1 million in chips only and hence I decided to move all-in. Surprisingly, the guy snap-folded. Later on, I realized the guy had nothing. So, that hand gave me a huge chip lead at the final table.
Q- How was your experience playing in Berlin? Any special things you want to share?
Kunal: This was my first-ever trip to Berlin. In fact, Berlin is a beautiful city and I really enjoyed being there. I usually travel to play poker for a few days only, but this time I went two days early so that I could have a look and feel of Berlin. My sister-in-law also came all the way from London and I had company for a couple of days. In fact, attending WPT is always special. They have a fantastic staff. All of them are nice people and some of them are really good friends now. Berlin is a good place to play poker. The dealers are amazing. Overall, a great experience and I would love to go back to Berlin.
Q- Who do you think are the toughest tournament players today?
Kunal: I played in Germany this time. Germans are very good players and some of them are really the toughest. During WPT European Championship where I came 36th, the field was pretty tough. There were some really good players. The funny part is that some of the players are really good, while the standard of some players is not as good as you find in India. So, the average players in India are better than the average players in Germany. Now that I travel across Europe, Asia, and Vegas, I can conclude Indians are among the tougher players to play against. Also, some of my favorite players are from India.
Raghav Bansal is one of my favorite poker players. He is the one who I usually discuss hands with. I consulted him during most of my WPT events. Amit Jain is another player I look up to. Aditya Agarwal is the godfather of poker, no doubt about it. And there are so many of them, including Dhaval Mudgal, Akash Malik, Rohit Tiwari and many upcoming poker players like Zarvan Tumboli, Nishant Sharma and Vivek Rughani, Siddharth Karia who has emerged from PSL, Pranay Chawla and lots of them.
Q- In three 3 words, how would you describe poker players in general?
It is very difficult to describe a player in 3 words. It requires lots of hard work, dedication, patience, and ability to beat stress and get over bad beats. While bad beats hurt everyone, it is no use of going on and on about them. You need to move on. Also, you have to be very easy going and flamboyant. People want to travel to the world and make money out of poker. But trust me, it is a difficult job where you have to deal with stress every second hand. You have to keep your cool and stay patient especially when you get bad beats. And you have to calculate the value of every hand to get most out of it. So, you require all basic qualities which you require to be successful in life.
Q- What do you love so much about poker? And what keeps you motivated playing poker?
Kunal: I am so passionate about poker. I just love the game. I play tournaments in the middle of the night and even for a whole day. Poker is a skill-based game where every situation is different and no hand can be played the same way every time. If I get Aces, I would play my Aces very differently in different situations against different opponents. So, everything about poker is so dynamic. It is changing and evolving and you get to learn so much every day. As for motivation, obviously, if you do well and make big scores, it keeps you motivated. What makes it even interesting is the fact that you get to travel a lot. You have your own timeline, which means you can choose any convenient time to play poker.
Q-What do you think about poker fame? How do you feel about being popular?
Yeah, obviously, it is great to be recognized when people come to you and say, “Sir, I am a big fan of yours, I play on adda52.com and I have shared the poker table with you”. Top poker players in India enjoy a good fan following. I am myself a huge fan of some poker players. So, it is nice to see that people have idols in the poker world as well. When you do something great in poker, you get recognized for it.
Q- How do you choose your live schedule? What makes you decide which tournaments have the most value?
Kunal: I look at 2-3 things. The first consideration is to decide the venue and how to get there. I choose the convenient locations. Macau, Manila, and European are very convenient locations for me because you could get direct flights to most of these destinations. The second thing I consider is the tournament value. I look into the buy-in amount, the guaranteed prize pool and how the field is expected to be. Third thing, I try to be in a new place. This year, I went to Berlin. Last year too I visited a couple of new places. I try to go to new places, which are convenient and where the tournaments promise a good value in terms of the prize pool.
Q- Your plans for DPT Feb’2018? Will you play all the tournaments,or will your schedule be a bit relaxed?
Kunal: DPT is by far the biggest and best tournament in India. It is always amazing to come back to India and play this tournament. It is a great value and it is good to see that every year the field is growing up. The schedule for it is also not very long, so I never follow a relaxed approach and play all the DPT tournaments. Before DPT, my next trip is to Macau as the Macau Poker Cup is starting in 3-4 days. There, I will be playing Baby Dragon, Main Event and a couple of other events. The Macau Poker Cup is by far the best value tournament in Asia and I expect the biggest Indian contingent for MPC this time.
Q- Moving to online poker, are you enjoying Go Crazy Tourneys on adda52.com?
Kunal: Oh, yeah. I am really enjoying Go Crazy Tourneys, especially Whale, Godfather and all of them. I think these tournaments have generated a lot of interest among the poker players. It is a great initiative by Abhishek Goindi. The tournaments have been amazing and the turnouts are proving that people like them very much. And I think it is a crime not to play these events especially with the exciting promotions like TDS Refund, Free Tickets, and crazy Leaderboard prizes. There is so much value for players. Even when I was playing live in Berlin, I was playing Godfather tourney on adda52.com.
Q- Finally, your advice to amateur players who want to make it big in the poker world?
Kunal: Firstly, it is the bankroll management you have to take care of. All players have to understand that you cannot play a tournament or a cash game, which doesn’t fit your budget. If it does not fit your budget, you should play satellites or sell action, but don’t the mistake of burning your bankroll. You could only be a great player if you know how to manage your bankroll. Secondly, work hard on your game. It is not an easy game. Get better and better at the game. People are working hard- they watch videos, they learn through poker study groups and they get training from the best coaches in the world.
Every day, you have to work on your game. I have been working hard over the last 3 years, especially the last few months. I have gone for a few courses and I have been speaking to a lot of players. Thirdly, discuss your hands with poker players. They are so approachable. So, feel free to approach us for any problem, whether it is related to bankroll or whether it is about certain hands or whatever it is.
Thanks for your time and good luck for the Adda52’s Go Crazy Tourneys and DPT Feb 2018 in Goa!