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My Goan Summer Pilgrimage to the DPT Xpress!

Posted by Raj Shrestha Juneja on 2019-06-11 at 8:46 AM


At the end of an eventful trip and fresh off the actions from the felts is a good time as any to pen down my thoughts about the series.

I have divided this blog in 3 parts-

The intro, the pre-series prep, the action and the aftermath!

I am not a pro at all and neither do I mean to preach. What I mention here and practiced myself was incorporated by me by observing people far better than I am. All I am saying is that this approach worked for me and might work for you too!

Basic intro – I am a part-time poker player, who learned the game in college (zygna product) but started seriously playing the game almost 2 years back. I make no apologies for not playing as frequently as my counterparts with whom I rubbed shoulders at the tournament. To each his own and for most people, poker fills the gap as life allows it.

I prefer to live over online any day! It occupies all your senses and requires you to perform under sensory overload and therefore, ups the ante (pun intended). Online is great to send your fundamentals straight but live… that’s what hits the adrenaline spot for me. The human factor.

Why does one play tournaments at all?

I read somewhere that even the best of players only make it in the money about 20% of the time. That is 1 in 5! Initially,I didn’t know that and as anyone new to the game, I beat myself mentally about it. At times we can be our own harshest critic. This fact gave me a reference point and some clarity.

You could play cash only and still make money more regularly! I believe people play tournaments, for a sense of achievement and to test themselves and their game. That is my perspective. You could be playing cash games from time to time with your friends but sometimes you get a call from inside, wondering how good you really are. To know that you need to put yourself out there. I won’t lie apart from that the financial bit, it is a time and mental investment as well.

Until this series, I had never played a main event. Only smaller live tourneys, with a smaller buy-in. this was due to 2 reasons-

  • The high entry cost of main events
  • Not confident or rather unsure of my game level.

I decided to take a call and go for it. DPT Xpress was the best chance for me to enter a main event at a relevantly lower buy-in. I run a youtube channel called Poker Life India and I also wanted my viewers to be a part of the journey. I decided to sell a part of my pack. Not primarily for the variance factor, but for my existing viewers to be a part of the journey. As I shall elaborate later, their railing behind me was a great positive force throughout.

Part 1 The prep

I chalked out my prep into the following compartments-

  • Conditioning
    • Mental and physical
      • Meditation- I used the Headspace app. Even tried the Primed mind app, which is pretty good and made for poker players by a poker player (Fedor Holz). Silent meditation is also good.
      • Recognize tilt and use interjectors- be ready for the worse to happen and to deal with it when it comes. Have some phrases ready to handle tilt, the losing side of variance, loss of focus etc.
      • Following a routine
        • Set workout time- for 2 weeks or so, I worked out in the morning and played squash in the evening. Gotta keep that metabolic rate high!
        • Diet- Nothing tough. Just avoided fats, fried stuff, and artificial sugar.

Sense of structure and completion of minor tasks goes a long way to build your confidence

  • Sleep- I have the toughest of time with sleep. Try and get 8 hours daily and change your sleep pattern as per the playing hours of an upcoming tournament. (especially if you’re planning to play abroad).
  • Planning
    • Financial
      • Make an excel/ write it down
      • Travel rake- travel, stay expenditure, etc can often be more than a tournament itself! Plan ahead in time to get the cheapest tickets, deals, etc. Speak to the casino GRE for best packages!
    • Tag along with a friend
      • Mental support/ safety in numbers
    • Clothes and other accessories- better over than under prepared. Visualize and anticipate your needs.
    • Registration- Pre-reg!
  • Decompress
    • I used to take the days leading to a tourney as an examination. I don’t do that anymore. Not only does it make one more anxious, but the pressure can also have an adverse effect on your performance. Relax, chill, don’t play for a day or so. Do whatever makes you happy and relaxed. I watch stand up comedy, work out and take a break from my work routine to get into the right frame of mind.

Part 2- Action

  • Be on time
    • You do not want to be rushed while entering a tournament. In India, most of the structures are turbo. you could lose valuable time that you could have used to get a sense of your table opponents. Standing in the queue while the level clock is ticking, does not help your mental state either.
    • Registration delays/ mess ups do happen. This is your only deterrent.
  • Be ready to be out of your comfort zone.
    • This is especially for amateurs and online players. Get ready for a sensory overload of sights, sounds, emotions and what not!
  • Use the breaks
    • Talk and discuss less.
    • Eat up
    • Chip count around the table and orient yourself.
    • Tank up! You will be surprised how you might get so involved that you forget to eat and then get hunger pangs! Hours of poker sends the brain into overdrive which in turns needs more fuel to burn. Eat up! I suggest keeping some snacks or protein bars handy. Whatever works for you.

Burn n turn

I showed up on time and was seated. It was a full house and a record number of players for the event! It paid off to be on time as I could see a queue for the longest time.

This was probably the most card dead season I have ever played. In 5 hours of play, the best hand I possibly saw was AJo and was short-stacked for most of the time. The steep structure almost demands that you double up or close in the first hour or so to play comfortably thereon. I managed to make it past the add on and stage on just playing the person and the board. I must admit my patience got the better of me when I tried a bluff shove against the chip leader (BB VS SB). My hand was caught in the proverbial cookie jar when I jammed his min raise. K3o vs 88 (chip leader). I should have waited for a better hand to try and double up.

I played a short session on the cash table for 10k but decided that it wasn’t our day when our full house was beaten by a higher full house on the river.

Main event

I was looking forward to my first main event as I felt I could play my game better in a more relaxed format. And boy did i!

Making to day 2 seems like a blur! I remember playing just right towards the ITM bubble and ended the day with our first bag ever of 232,000 chips!

I played solid poker and stayed out of the way of the good players and the chip leaders. I ran up my stack by choosing the right spots and exploiting player tendencies where I could. I could make out the chip leader targeting my BBs and I played back when I could to send a message back.

One of the key hands before the end of day 1 was this-

Hero Co. Vs bb villain. 400/800/800

Hero has 99. I raise to 1800.bb re raises 4000. I call.

Flop kqj. Bb bets 4000.we call.

(usually with so many over cards, in this position and with so many draws, I would have let go. I had a read of sorts and decide to call with my pair and gutshot).

Turn 4. He shoves for 11k.we call. Villain shows pocket 88s. Close call! Stack 39k

Hero.bb.57o.vs sb 500-1000-1000


I bet 1200.he calls.

Turn 5.

He bets. 5k. I make it 15k. He shoves. Board runs out.he shows. J10. stack 70800.

Raj Juneja

I ended day 2 with 232,000. My first bag and tag ever and I was over the moon!

Day 2.

I tried to get as much rest as I could but only slept a couple of hours. I spent the hours from 12-2 pm to mentally prepare myself as much as I could. It started with an intense high intensity work out at the hotel room floor (burpees till failure etc) to get the brain oxygenated. A routine of things to do was set- food, meditation, coffee and arriving at our seat a whole one hour early. I studied all the stacks and their positions to be ready for the game.

A ballsy hand against the chipleader.

2.32 k


Preflop raise ak ♧ Call Vs kshitij.

Under card 237 rainbow. He bets 46k.

I seem to tank at this moment. He had bet slightly over the 2/3rd pot limit which indicated to me that he was weak. So after some thinking we shoved and maintained a cold steady gaze at the board to avoid. Tells. We get a fold.

At 153,000 our table dynamic changes. I am one of the shorter stacks with possibly one other person with fewer chips than mine. At less than 8bbs I felt a need to double when the opportunity came. Blinds are 10,000/20,000/20,000

Mp shoves with 80,000 and CO re-shoves. I am on the SB and contemplating a call for 2 reasons. I feel that CO is r-shoving to try and isolates the blinds from calling, who could otherwise call his semi-premium hand. Secondly, the MP had shoved 4 times in the last hour or so, giving me a loose image. But In truth, he was just acting out naturally to good cards being dealt to him. We call and we see this.

Raj Juneja AJ JJ

To be honest, the math left me once the cards were face up. I just found that an Ace could hit could be a real possibility. But what irked me was the fact that CO was stronger than MP and he covered me.

The board runs out to a set for MP and a CO gets the remainder of the chips. Hasta la vista, baby!

While that hand is still running in my mind, we sit at the bounty tournament!


The 10k bounty tournament

We had played with most of the players that sat on this table. A few of the notables included Goonjan Mall to my left, and Abhishek grover (WPT India runners-up) to my right. Good times.

Bounty was a roller coaster from the get go. This was only inevitable with players all coming in for the short stack who could go all in. A significant chip leader arose next to Goonjan, (Arjun) which affected how we would play further. Our chip count went from 15k to 25k, to 13k shortstack to 28000 with our 88 vs 55 .

Ran it to 49k with this hand and got our first bounty! Yes, we rivered someone, but we covered her anyway so, no regrets!

Raj Juneja Story 2

Raj Juneja Instagram Story

We kept climbing the chip ladders with good aggressive calls from our reads, like this one!

Then we took a HIT! Lost around 40k chips, with our kings busted by Q 10! Preflop raise was called and the board read something like 7 8 6. I jammed to the shorter stack who showed flush draw. In an unlikely run out, he hit a straight on the river. Happens:P I could just smile and get on with the game with a positive attitude!

The final hand

Hero at the button with 33. Chip leader – 1 to me.

He min raises to 2x to 12k. We re-raise to 25kk.

Why did I do this? Well, he was chip leading and had a very loose range and was playing almost every hand. There is a very legitimate reason not goes against the bigger stack but I felt that he could pay me off. He called.

Flop 656.

He bets10k. We call.

Turn q ♧.

He bets 21k.we re-raise to 45k (should have jammed).

This was the most crucial, if not the most intriguing hand I played. I have him baffled to the point that someone called the clock on him! He even lifted his cards and kept it close to the line as if to muck. I don’t know if my eyes gave away my intrigue! He eventually called. Where I lost out was that I should have shoved instead of just re-raising. I just had around an unsubstantial amount left and an all in call would have been much more effective!

River 6. He jams. We call. He shows A5o.

I took a fairly aggressive line trying to exploit a fishy player who was fishy and running hot. I was ready to fold if the flop had shown a higher range of cards on the flop such as broadway cards etc. A pair on the board made it more appealing to continue that line. Well, c’est la vie. We only lose when we do not learn from our experiences!

The aftermath

Results- 17/303 from the DPT Xpress Main event, 30/ 203 from the bounty event

The good.

  • Played a solid game of poker for most of the time
  • Kept distractions to a minimum

What I could have improved

  • I messed up a couple of spots and the equity math left my head when in a multiway pot. Although one could still argue this hand to be a marginal one, I am wise for it, now that I ran the numbers.
  • In the bounty, I had a substantial stack and I decided to run a marginal hand against the chip leader. Could have grinded it out to have achieved a much better result!

Raj Juneja Blog

Raj Juneja Hands


Going forward

Playing most of the series, especially the main event and running deep, gave me a lot of confidence. Until now, I had been playing the low buy-in tournaments with steeper structures where the variance is much higher! A slower paced structure is better for players to grind their edge, take their time, know their opponents and then climb the chip count ladder!

I look forward to entering more live tournaments and taking my poker journey forward. Not bad for someone playing seriously for 2 years or so!

Key points to take away-

  • GTO<Exploitation– with the volume of hands being played far fewer than online, one has to take a more exploitative path when playing live. You could be card dead for a while and still need to play a certain way to have a chance to earn chips. I was card dead for 4 hours for the Burn n turn and had to play the board or my opponent to stay in the game.
  • Build your patience- This includes mental and physical conditioning. It is not easy to sit for hours on end indoors and remain focused and play your A-game. I suggest activities which increases your focus such as reading, meditation etc and reducing the use of social media.
  • Keeping phone use/social media to a minimum– one gains maximum information from the hands we don’t play and from observing others. I needed to balance this out as someone recording his hands/action.
  • Spot tendencies of players and know who to make earn chips from and whose way you should stay out of.
  • Once the game gets deeper, it is more important than ever to keep in mind the stack size of your opponents.
  • Play tighter once ITM with a short or mid stack but always plan to go for the win!
  • Be an hour early for your registration. Even if you registered online.
  • Luck– Yes, you do need a fair amount of luck to ship you tournaments but here is the caveat- you need to know when to push your luck and when to fold and wait for a better spot.

One of the unsaid but felt emotion was the sense of camaraderie I shared with my fellow players-a few who I had met during previous tournaments or viewers of Poker life India! Yes, it’s always good to get asked and recognized at the tables. Hehe. But yes, it works as a positive support system and even better to be in the company of like-minded people!

After a break I shall be back to the grind. The “grind” for me is a routine which includes working, working out, studying, playing and discussing poker! This trip taught me a lot and also told me that the journey never really ends and there’s loads to learn. That being said, it has also taught me that I can put myself out there and go for glory. So can you, just believe in yourself, stay humble and do the work.

Hopefully, there will be a blog out for this trip soon! Peace and may the poker gods be with you!


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2 years ago

Thank you poker life india (Raj Juneja) for sharing you experience with us, it was helpful

Raj Shrestha Juneja

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