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Fresh from his career-first title win at the record-breaking ₹35K Main Event of the 2018 Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) July edition, Awnish Singh (cover image) has finally made his mark on the ever-progressing Indian poker community.
A cash game specialist primarily, Singh’s first brush with poker was in college and the attraction to the mind sport hasn’t waned since then. In fact, Singh even shifted his base to Goa to be as close to poker as possible.
With an eye on the prize and an intense desire to succeed, this Jamshedpur-based lad has a clear understanding of the game which was evidenced by his performance on the DPT Main Event final table.
In an exclusive interview with PokerGuru, Singh talks to us about his experience at the 2018 DPT July edition and maiden title win, his introduction to poker and his views on the changing domestic poker scene.
Hi Awnish! Thank you for speaking with PokerGuru and congratulations for winning ₹35K Main Event of 2018 Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) July edition. How does it feel to win your first live tournament?
It feels really amazing! There is a sense of accomplishment that had been eluding me since long. It’s the most special moment of my poker career till now!
You bested a field of 457 participants to take home ₹35.04 Lakhs. Tell us what the journey was like, making it to the final table?
The journey was very smooth throughout the tournament. I just kept saying to myself that I wouldn’t make silly mistakes. The whole journey was divided into parts, first getting to second day then making it to money then final table then winning it. I just saw so many good players spewing away good stacks, I just made sure I didn’t do that.
In the post-event interview, you said that your heads-up opponent Vidur Singhal should have won. What was going through your mind during the heads-up play?
I thought he made good decisions in the heads-up, but I guess I was being too harsh on myself. I won some crucial hands even while behind but that’s normal when you win a tournament. Though I feel I could have done better in the heads-up.
Before the start of the heads-up match, you also said that you are used to playing long tournaments so the Main Event stretching over three days was to your advantage. How did you prepare for the Main Event?
I mostly play cash games and it’s normal to have 24-hour sessions, so that played to my advantage as I was able to stay focused throughout the long sessions. Like I said the tournament was divided into different parts and goal was to get to the next stage.
Any special plans on how you intend to spend your prize money?
No plans as of now, but I definitely think I will re-invest a part of it on some high value tournaments and spin it to a bigger amount.
How and when were you first introduced to poker?
I was introduced to Poker in my college. I started playing with friends at micro stakes and started learning about the game. I studied (Computer Science engineering) in Manipal which is very close to Goa. So, a few batchmates who were good at poker started going to Goa to play it and they used to come back with stories about their winnings. I made one such trip with a friend and immediately got hooked. A lot of my friends are doing very good too. Few notables being Shashank Siddharth, Abhinav Aditya, Rohit Madhur, Harsh, Raunak and Rajneesh. I always had good poker minds around me so that definitely helped. I started playing at Casino Pride which is still operated by Madhav ‘Maddy’ Gupta who has been a great source of encouragement, and at the Deltin Royale, Anil Gulati too had been an inspiration with his work ethics.
Do you play poker professionally or is it more a recreational pursuit?
I play poker professionally with my major attention being towards the cash game side, but it helps to live in Goa as most of the big tournaments happen here.
Besides DPT, have you participated in any other major tournaments?
I mostly play cash games, but I make sure I play the main event of all the tournaments that happen in Goa.
How was your experience on-board the Deltin Royale that was host to the DPT and had three events run alongside each other?
It was very smooth. I heard the organisers say they were not expecting such big numbers but still they did a good job. Now that they know the potential they should be more prepared as this will only grow.
Is there anything you feel that could be changed to make the experience at DPT even better?
I think they should start the tournaments a little early, even if there are more people they can add a few levels towards the end of the day.
How long have you been living in Goa? Where are you originally from?
I have been playing in Goa for more than 5 years, but am originally from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. I played in Kolkata as well as it was near to my hometown.
Goa is the birthplace of the mind sport in India, but the poker scene has changed quite a bit since 2012-13. What are your thoughts on that?
The cash game traffic has been affected by the increased number of poker clubs in all major cities, but tournament hasn’t been affected as this is the only place to host such big live tournaments.
How do you think the introduction of tax deducted at source (TDS) has impacted the poker industry?
I think winners don’t mind doing our bit for the society and giving back.
Since 2015-16 there has been a resurgence in the popularity and growth of poker. Player participation in events have increased. Guaranteed prize pools have become higher. As a player how does that affect you?
It makes you more enthusiastic and more motivated when the prize is so big. Brings the best out of the players.
What do you prefer to play on, the online or live felts? Have you won any major online tournaments? What is your preferred variant?
I prefer live games as you have more information to work on, I have been in the money but never won any tournament before. Omaha is the future according to me, as it brings more action to the game.
What was been your biggest achievement in poker yet?
You can’t measure the sense of achievement if you play cash games. It only comes when you win a tournament, so this win is the biggest achievement.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for newcomers?
Believe in yourself and back your skill with some hard work and cards will fall right sooner or later.
Any parting words or anything you would like to add?
Thankful to PokerGuru for covering this and spreading awareness about poker.
And with that Singh signs off!