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Cash games or Tournaments?

Posted by Shuchi Chamaria on 2017-03-03 at 12:00 AM

Hello fellow poker players,

Firstly, I would like to thank PokerGuru readers for the overwhelming response I got for my first article.

So some of you might have seen me around at poker events last year. I have had no big score, and my only claim to fame is being Adi Agarwal’s wife, but that has been acceptance enough.

I travelled the circuit vastly last year, and got a chance of being at some of the biggest international and domestic events. You might know from my previous article that I only started playing in about May or June last year, and in spite of being there at the biggest events, I didn’t play much because of the big buy-ins at tournaments or long queues in small cash game tables. I never enjoyed playing online much, so after coming back from WSOP, I started playing live cash games, which are legal and plentiful in my city. For the first month I played the 2.5k buy in game, not only was I learning the game but also the mannerisms and shenanigans that go on at the poker rooms. But a big thanks to all those lovely people who made my transition into the poker world easier everyday.

I was turning into a winning player slowly, but it wasn’t until Diwali, that one night my 10k table (Yes, I had managed to graduate to 10k) decided not to play and I found myself with all “Cash Game Pros” at the 25k table. My entire poker bankroll of 3 months of grinding was at stake in one buy game. I will never forget how all the blood was rushing to my head that night, and much to my surprise and everyone else’s, I did exceedingly well and managed to increase my bankroll by a few folds. The Diwali Bonanza continued for me as long as the holiday gambling season lasted, and I managed to build a bankroll to take bigger swings. I believe I am doing fairly well at the tables and I can almost manage to afford my own indulgences.

I played some smaller tournaments on my recent trip to the Poker stars festival in London. I bagged chips for the first time in a tournament and the feeling was way more satisfying than even after a big winning session at cash.

I min cashed the #270 Deepstack event, bubbled the Ladies event (11/46) and won a daily tournament at the Empire casino (#470 for #40)

Now I am at such a cusp of my poker career where I must direct my professional training to one direction, if I want a real shot at any. I am sure many of you have faced this question early on. Cash and tournament poker are like flipsides of a coin, the yin and the yang, the same yet so different.

Tournament players are no less than movie or at least TV stars, they are famous, everyone knows them, the media is citing their examples. They are sportsmen, and rightly so.
Cash game pros generally are smart gamblers, not sportsmen. They more than often aren’t sure about their own scores. (Why is the figure always rounded off guys?)

Tournament players play a tight schedule at hectic hours. Breaks are the only time when all players disperse to grab water or a quick bite. It is a nonstop 10-14 hour grind to the next day, where the antes will eat your stack if you don’t show up on time.
Cash games are total anarchy, you can go when you want, take a break when you want, go for a rendezvous to the next table, get the deck changed, get the dealer changed and leave when you want.

Tournament players are ranked by winnings on various websites, they travel the world bearing the Indian flag, and they have several followers on social media. They might have to explain to a fan, why they didn’t raise a particular hand in the last tournament series. They are under constant scrutiny due to the live updates of all hands, this might very well be the reason, they address themselves with a collective pronoun, “We didn’t raise coz the opponent was tight” or “we were running so bad”.

Cash game pros, are on a constant look out for an easy rich fish. These fishes feed the game, they are generally rich businessmen looking for a place to satisfy their gambling addiction, and the popularity and legality of poker provides them with the perfect platform. They don’t care about the game; I feel they could be playing snakes and ladders as long as it included betting large sums of money.

To make my decision easier, a cash game pro rightly pointed out that they make more money than tournament players, and for him, he had a clear winner.
But is it money that everyone desires?

Cash game pros see very little respect in their line of work, unlike their counterparts. Most of these cash game players have received no formal training and have been gliding through their career without ever really being tested. They have only played in a limited quorum of fiend gamblers, but they are consumed with confidence of beating Negreanu, heads up.

You should see the true team spirit and excitement when an Indian runs deep in any major tournament. The entire poker fraternity stays up all night rooting for them, and sending prayers for his success. The win is not of that one person, but for everyone in the country, and this is when an individual game such as poker turns into a sport.

No business is clean or perfect, and especially a sport like poker is always under strict speculation. There is no entry ticket into the industry, no GD or PI, or reference check. The market leaders are individuals who have achieved great heights because of their passion and love for the sport.
There is also a lot of money to be earned in this business, thus has paved way for many wannabes, who are nothing more than lying and cheating scoundrels. I can bet almost everyone who’s been around for a while can think of one such name. This is a very small industry, what goes around, comes around. Yet it leaves me completely perplexed as a newbie, that we all know about such people, but still give them the respect of being an insider. People who don’t care about ethics and are here just for self gain should be shunned. The industry leaders must take care in which light poker is painted in India.

The Big debate about poker being a skill game can never be won if we don’t care for the health of the game. Players should try and master the skill of the game and compete at international platforms, instead they are found running clubs of their own competing in poaching the maximum fishy players. After living a short life the club soon has a long list of receivables from players who have lost more than they can afford, and even a longer list of payables to the cash games pros.

The industry needs players that are picky about where they play. They should be like a close-knit group of people who just don’t want individual growth but also want Poker to grow as a recognised sport in India. But unfortunately right now the industry is very accommodating; they will give any guy who opens a table in his basement or server, a warm welcome into the industry. Majority of them end up cheating several people many times over, and yet they will continue to get enough business.

I have really grown to love the sport immensely, and it worries and saddens me to see where it is heading. It is like global warming, we feel the effects but no one talks about it and before we know it would have ruined everything for our future generations.

I hope I will keep receiving the same warmth and encouragement from my fellow members and achieve great heights of my own, hopefully the near future.

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Shuchi Chamaria

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