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Heads-Up With APT Vietnam Main Event Champion Abhinav Iyer

Abhinav Iyer
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  • Attreyee K. Ganguly January 17, 2019
  • 5 Minutes Read

Hardly a year back when we had interviewed Abhinav Iyer (cover image) for our ‘PokerGuru Young Gun’ feature, he was a bright young talent who was trying to find his footing and still a little wet behind the ears. Less than a year later he has not only made his World Series of Poker (WSOP) debut but has now won his first live international title as well!

The past year has seen Iyer go from strength-to-strength. He started the year with a sixth-place finish in the HK$3K No Limit Hold’em – Turbo at the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Macau Poker Cup 28 for HK$28,881 (₹2.61 Lakhs) and wrapped up 2018 with a fourth-place finish in the ₹100K High Roller at WPT India for ₹8.46 Lakhs.

The Tamilian pro has come close to bagging his maiden title several times in the past year, but somehow kept missing the mark. However, the new year brought in new possibilities and with it came his first-ever live title at the Asian Poker Tour (APT) Vietnam Main Event, along with his career-best score of ₹69.51 Lakhs.

With such a big win coming his way early on in the year, 2019 seems to be brimming with possibilities for the Mumbai lad.

In this interview with PokerGuru, Abhinav Iyer talks about his APT Vietnam Main Event win, his overall experience at the APT and his future prospects including plans for Aussie Millions and WSOP.

Hi Abhinav! Thank you for speaking with PokerGuru. Congratulations on winning the APT Vietnam Main Event. How does it feel?

Thanks a lot! It’s a great feeling to be honest. Finally getting a win and winning a main event feels surreal. It’s my biggest cash by a huge margin, so that feels great too. Came close a few times last year to winning a live title but couldn’t really close it out. So happy, that I could do that with the first big tournament of the year!


From Day 3 of the event onwards you dominated the felts. You were chip leading the final table from start to finish. At what point did you start to feel that winning the event was within your reach?

I had a good stack going into Day 3 and started with the chip lead on my table. That allowed me to play a lot of hands before the bubble. Post that I was just trying to play solid. I started the last two tables with 1 Million in chips with the big blind at 30,000. I ran really well and ended at 4.8 Million which gave me a decent chip lead along with the feeling that I can win this.


Were there any players on the final table, or even the entire event that you felt would pose tough competition for you?

I really didn’t know a lot of players whom I played with through the last 3-4 tables. But I’d played a decent bunch with the guys on the final table from Day 2 and end of Day 3. One of the local Vietnamese players and the Chinese player who finished in third place [Te Mai], with whom I was playing, played pretty solid on Day 2. I thought he could be tough to beat if he chipped up early.

You can watch the entire final table live stream here.


Quite a big contingent of Indian players was in Vietnam for the APT and the country seems to have become a favoured hunting ground for Team India. What are your views of Vietnam as a poker destination?

Yes. It’s a great place to play poker and numbers here are really good too. Lot of buy-ins ranging from $500-$3,000 which has a pretty decent prize pool. So, it’s a really good destination for poker now with lots of events coming up here in the next 6 months.


What was your overall experience at the APT like?

This was my second APT. The first one was the one which was held here after WPT Vietnam. The experience has been great, the structures are really good allowing a lot of deep stack poker.


Winning this event has boosted your bankroll quite a bit. Does that factor into the number of events you will be playing this year, especially the WSOP?

I haven’t planned out my WSOP schedule yet. I am focusing more on the tournaments which are in the near future for now. Will be focusing on the World Series schedule when it’s a little closer.


You will be attending the upcoming Aussie Millions series where once again a large Indian contingent is expected to turn up. What are your expectations from the series? What are your plans afterwards?

Aussie Millions is a series which I’ve been looking forward to play for some time. I also planned on playing a few NLH side events apart from the Main Event. I haven’t planned anything after the Aussie Millions since it’s till first week of February. I will most likely be travelling and taking a break from poker for the rest of the month.


2018 was a good year for you. You made your WSOP debut, posted scores in Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Manila, European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona, WPT Vietnam and rounded off the year with two scores at WPT India. Not to mention your innumerable online scores, most recent of which was India Online Poker Championship’s (IOPC) ‘The Elite INR 30 Lakhs GTD’. What would you say was your most memorable achievement from last year?

2018 was definitely a good year for me. 2019 has gotten off to a flyer with the IOPC and APT wins. In terms of live, I think the first big score of year was in Macau at the Macau Millions HKD 8,000 tournament. It was a really good tournament and I played really well through the series. Got a few online wins too last year in almost all the major tournaments featured on the premier sites. That was really memorable too.


Is there any advice you would like to give to players who are thinking about taking a shot at international events?

Plan an international trip somewhere in Asia like Vietnam or Manila in APT’s and WPT’s. The fields aren’t as tough as 1K’s in other parts of the globe. The buy-ins are similar, tax situation is better, and the stay is relatively cheap!

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