In the past, we have come up with several interviews highlighting the hard work, commitment, dedication, and volume that poker players have been putting in to be successful in the beautiful game of poker. Most of our interviews have been with well-known names winning big online. This interview is again with a popular pro – Mithun Mahesh who left his full-time engineering job to become a poker pro in late 2018 and the decision has paid off handsomely. Since turning pro, Mahesh has managed to stay on top of his game, taking down tourneys after tourneys.
Hailing from God’s own country, Kerala, Mahesh is one of the best online MTT players in the country today. He has been working really hard on his game and always brings his A-game to the table every time he sits down to grind. And this is evident from the fact that he has already won over 122 online titles. While he has won big on all the leading poker platforms, Adda52.com seems to be his biggest hunting ground. The site holds a special place in his heart as it is where he started his poker career.
While he has won several big-ticket tournaments on Adda52.com, his most prominent win came this past Sunday when he championed the 50 Lac GTD Adda52 Big Game and earned a hefty INR 11.40 Lac, following a heads-up deal with the MTT beast Ashish Ahuja (runner-up for INR INR 10.99 Lac). The latest victory happens to be Mahesh’s second-biggest score on Adda52.com. His biggest score came back in May this year when he had finished second in the Adda52 Colossus for INR 14.55 Lac.
We had an online chat with Mahesh about his Adda52 Big Game win, his poker journey, the decision to take it up professionally, how he developed his game over the years, his biggest achievements, his opinion on downswing, his grinding schedule, and more. Here are the excerpts of the chat with him.
OPN: Hi Mithun, thank you for speaking with us, and congratulations on winning the Adda52 Big Game this Sunday! How are you feeling? Is this your biggest score on Adda52.com?
Mithun: Thank you. Feels great. I think a 2nd place finish in Adda52 Colossus back in May 2021 was bigger in terms of cash.
OPN: How did you prepare for such an important tournament? What was your strategy going into this event?
Mithun: I didn’t prepare anything exclusively for this event. I followed my daily training routine as usual. Strategy-wise, in these high buy-in events, there is not much adjustment to be made as you play against the best players more often, so I just tried to implement the optimal strategies as per my current capabilities.
OPN: How was the field of the tournament? Tell us what the journey was like, making it to the final table?
Mithun: Field was competent. It was a fun ride. Tried to play aggressively, ran decent as well. Had a huge hand with Neel Joshi deep in the tourney, blind vs blind when I was chip-leading and he was second in chips, it was a mad hand, in which he ended up bluffing off the entire stack. That helped me navigate conveniently.
OPN: The final table featured top pros like Ashish Ahuja and Ankur Sehgal. What was your strategy on the final table?
Mithun: Final table had mostly recreational players and a few regs, so I just tried to identify some soft spots and applied max pressure there. I had acquired around 4x chip-lead, so it was a smooth sail afterward.
OPN: How was the heads-up with Ahuja? Did you have to make any adjustments during HU?
Mithun: HU was not a pleasant experience. Ashish is a very competent and aggressive player. You don’t want to be playing with him, especially when there is no ICM involved. It is always painful playing against him. Things didn’t work out well for me, but eventually, he asked for a deal.
OPN: What are your thoughts on Adda52 Big Game and its value for MTT enthusiasts?
Mithun: It’s a fun tournament with a decent structure. However, I think the payout structure is disproportionate. I would love to see Adda52 come up with standard payouts used internationally.
OPN: At what stage of his poker lifecycle a player should play such events, according to you?
Mithun: Firstly, all the bankroll management measures should be taken care of. One should play all the satellite MTTs to the event. Skill-wise, you can give it a shot if you think you are better than an average reg.
OPN: Tell us how long have you been playing poker for and how many years professionally?
Mithun: I first played poker in 2008, immediately after my 10th grade when I got my first mobile phone, it was one of the first few games I installed on it. I’ve been playing it ever since. Started real money poker, I think, in 2016 or so and then professionally in late 2018.
OPN: When did you realize you want to become a professional poker player?
Mithun: It was always my fantasy to be a poker player since teenage years. I used to daydream all the time about it. Never imagined I would actually play it professionally or if it was possible. Around 2016, from a news site, I realized there’s a huge poker scene in India. I remember googling “best poker players in India” and Aditya Agarwal‘s name popped up. I then did a lot of research about him, almost watched / read every possible interview I could. The very next day, I started preparing for my journey seriously. By 2018, I had realized how much one needs to study to be a top poker player. I had all the study materials such as RYE and other courses but didn’t get any time to study as I was working as a project engineer commissioning a steel plant. So I decided to quit my engineering career and go full-time, primarily with an intention of studying the game exquisitely.
OPN: How did your parents react first when you told them about how you are going to make a living?
Mithun: My parents have always believed in me and supported me. We used to play games like Rummy and Spades post-lunch as a family ritual since childhood. After 10th grade, when I had to leave my town, I missed the time we spent. That’s the reason why I installed card games like Gin, Spades, and Poker on my phone in the first place. Also, they were aware of my poker craze since the start. So when I told them that I’m resigning from my job and focusing full-time on poker for the next 6 months, they welcomed it with zero resistance. Now they watch all my streamed events despite not understanding the game (they refused to learn poker as I’ll have an edge over them unlike other games we play). Kartik Ved is their favorite player. They don’t miss his games as well.
OPN: How has been your poker journey so far? Could you take us through your biggest achievements in poker?
Mithun: Living the dream, as simple as that. Very grateful that I’ve been able to play this game professionally for 3 years now with the same passion and love I had 13 years ago. I would say getting coached by Aditya Agarwal (2019- July 2021) is my biggest achievement to date.
OPN: What are the main ways you developed your game over the years. Did you take any poker lessons from professional players? Also, tell us about the players you look up to in the circuit.
Mithun: Earlier by reading books from Apestyles, J. Little, and Chris Moorman. Later by courses like RYE by Bencb, Upswing courses by Nick Petrangelo. Then I was mentored by Kartik Ved, Aditya Agarwal, and Ashish Munot. I spend a lot of time with the poker prodigy Vishal Bajaj and the workhorse Laksh Pal Singh, which helps me a lot. Currently, I’m working with the best coaches around the world. In International circuits, I look up to Michael Addamo and Daniel Dvoress.
OPN: Can someone become a really successful player without personal or another type of coaching?
Mithun: Even if you are the smartest person on the planet, it would be unwise to not opt for coaching from someone who has already worked on their game as you can speed up the process. And you don’t know what you don’t know, so always have to keep looking around, curiosity is key. So yes coaching is very pivotal, however, one shouldn’t mimic anyone and should emphasize on building their style of play.
OPN: What do you think of the game at the moment compared to when you started playing it?
Mithun: There’s a lot to improve. Every day you find some new theoretical line to study. It seems it’ll take a lifetime to master it as they say.
OPN: Everyone faces downswings at some point in poker. How do you deal with downswings? Was there a moment when you felt like quitting the game? How did you overcome this period?
Mithun: I’ve implemented a positive superstition regarding this, “if you feel you are down-swinging, it means you need more study time”. So whenever I feel I’m not doing well, I study more. There were rough patches in my career as well, but I wouldn’t call it a downswing now. It was more of a skill-deficiency thing and me trying to mimic plays. I recently discovered what style of play suits me well and have been working around that technically and mentally.
OPN: Tell us about your grinding regime. Where and how much poker do you play? How has been your experience playing on Adda52?
Mithun: I start by 8:30 PM mostly after a pre-game routine which consists of mind-body workouts, cognition training, and visualization exercises. I play all the available events at least 5 days a week, across all sites available. Adda52 is where I started my poker career, so it has a special place in my heart. The overall experience is very pleasant, however, I would like to see them enforcing international standards when it comes to payout distribution and structures, which I believe they are already working on as top players like Kunal Patni are associated with them.
OPN: Which format of the game do you prefer playing – Live or Online? And why?
Mithun: Before the pandemic, my answer was clearly Live Poker. But now I’m not sure which one to pick. Looking forward to upcoming live events if any. Will try to participate in all of them as I’m fully vaccinated now.
OPN: How do you look at the future of online and live poker in India?
Mithun: To answer this, I would love to share the link to my recent blog concerning the same topics mentioned in the question.
OPN: Finally, any message /advice for someone just starting with the game?
Mithun: Work on your game consistently and follow bankroll management strictly. It is okay to miss big events as they’ll always keep happening. Take regular breaks and try to stay fit physically and mentally
Cheers to Mahesh! We love his passion for the game of poker and hope to see more of him shipping such marquee events. Keep following Online Poker News (OPN) for more such inspiring stories.