10 mins Read
World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet and World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) gold ring winner and high stakes cash game specialist, Andrew Lichtenberger (cover image) is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with! Born in Brooklyn, New York, Lichtenberger was introduced to poker at the budding age of 18. For close to two decades, his association with the mind sport has grown leaps and bounds.
This 30-year-old American pro who has already authored a book is now gearing up to set foot in India`s congested but fast-growing online poker space. Bringing his vast knowledge and experience into the arena of online gaming, Lichtenberger has teamed up with Akash Vats to launch an India facing online poker site – PokerTempo.in.
In an interview with PokerGuru, ‘Lucky Chewy’ aka Andrew Lichtenberger opens up about his motivation for exploring the field of online poker, his dedication towards launching PokerTempo, how his moniker ‘Lucky Chewy’ came up and his views on India’s developing poker industry.
Hi Andrew and thank you for speaking with PokerGuru! Your association with poker goes back to nearly two decades. You are one of the most renowned high stakes cash game pro around. How has the journey been like, thus far?
Thank you for the kind words. Poker has been very kind to me and I would like to offer something in return back to the poker world through creating a platform and brand where the players have a voice and their requests are heard and understood. The journey has been what one might expect, lots of ups and downs and a lot of learning.
Back in 2016, in a podcast with Joey Ingram, you had talked about launching a real money version of your website luckychewypoker.com. What was the motivation behind the idea?
The motivation was that we felt we could create the technology to be comparable with, if not eventually better than, existing sites and, as previously mentioned, to make it more of a community venture where the players voices are heard and appreciated.
We hear that your India-facing online poker site PokerTempo.in is about to launch. Would you like to share few details on it?
Yes! We are very excited to finally be at the stage where we feel ready to begin operations after so much hard work during the development phase. As we grow our player pool we are excited to bring together the poker worlds of the west and the east.
How did you meet your Indian partner Akash Vats and how did the idea for PokerTempo.in come about?
We met through a mutual friend. We decided on PokerTempo after considering many options and eventually coming to a mutual conclusion that it would be a catchy name which captures the rhythmic aspect of the game of poker. We believe being ‘in the flow’ and ‘on tempo’ are integral to achieve success in anything in life.
Are there any offers or campaign that you have planned to promote the launch of the site?
We intend to offer a 100% deposit bonus up to ₹100 which will be available for the first week of operations, with a 1-month timeline to fulfill the bonus, and eventually to host tournaments with guaranteed prize pools as well as offer other bonus’ and rewards.
What is the process that goes into developing a real money online poker site? How involved are you in the entire process?
The process entailed a lot of research and development from our technology team. It’s challenging to quantify exactly how involved I was but being as I am working remotely from the US there were many hours spent explaining intricacies of features and functionalities as well as giving feedback and testing the client along the way.
Rake is an important part of online poker. Do you think it is possible to have a website that doesn’t have a very high rake?
I do think it is possible, but I am also realistic about the fact that the sites in India currently offer a reasonably high rake relative to the rest of world sites.
There are several online poker sites vying to capture the attention of the highly competitive Indian market. How would you differentiate your site from the ones already existing?
We intend to share some of the more admired aspects of the western poker world, such as various name pro’s and locations like Las Vegas. Additionally, we will be debuting a Poker Community social network with a forum as well as many other features and our rewards store when we launch. Between our technology and passion for the game we are excited to begin operations and to see what the future holds in store for us.
TDS is a big issue for the Indian poker industry and something that shaves off a lot of value for players. Presently different sites use different ways to compute TDS, what will be the TDS policy at PokerTempo?
The parent company of PokerTempo is Kovida Spacetech Pvt Ltd. and, as you mentioned, withdrawals on PokerTempo are subject to withholding tax (TDS) as per applicable rates (i.e. 30% currently) which is submitted to the Indian tax authorities under section 194B of the Income Tax Act.
Cash outs are eligible to be made on all bank working days and a player’s TDS liability and TDS will only be deducted from qualifying withdrawals. It is calculated at the time of the withdrawal and is based on the amount withdrawn in a single day IST (Indian Standard Time) from 04:00 PM to 03:59 PM in excess of ₹10,000.
Please note that, in the case of a player being in a top category of reward points, on the date of withdrawal, PokerTempo will bear TDS liability as may be applicable under the relevant act on their net winnings for that period.
We feel that at present this is the best way to work with players who have shown loyalty to PokerTempo in an effort to mitigate the burden of TDS laws as it pertains to winnings.
What is your goal for PokerTempo.in?
Our goal is simple – we have created something amazing, from scratch, and want to be able to utilize it in an efficient and functional way in order to bring value to the poker community, starting in India and intending to eventually expand to the whole world.
You have been to India before. How do you think poker has evolved in the country recently?
I think it has evolved quite nicely. It is great to see the existing sites beginning to put on more live events and the interest for the game of poker to be growing in India. We are excited to be able to further contribute to this in the times to come.
You have done it all from winning a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet in 2016 to a gold ring in the 2010 World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC). What is the driving force behind your achievements on the poker felts?
I don’t know that there is a single driving force that is behind my achievements but a few things that I value in my success are my ability to break down situations to the most minute details, maintaining my focus on the present moment and situation at hand, and having met and made so many amazing friend through the poker world who have become some of the closest people to me and who have helped me grow immensely.
What was been your biggest achievement in poker yet?
In terms of success playing poker, I would probably have to say winning the WPT Alpha 8 event in 2014 is – but I intend to be able to look back in a few years and say that partnering with Akash and creating this site is easily the biggest achievement.
You authored a book, “Yoga of Poker: A High Stakes Journey to Freedom”. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The book is about some of the more mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of poker that I had come to appreciate over the course of my career. I really enjoy how relatable poker is to other aspects of life and did my best to share these ideas in my book.
Is there a story behind your moniker ‘Lucky Chewy’?
A friend in 3rd grade gave me the nickname ‘Chewy’ because my mother would frequently pack me ‘Chewy’ granola bars with my lunch. The nickname stuck with me and when I found poker I put ‘Lucky’ in front for obvious reasons – and the rest is history.
Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
I would just like to express my deepest appreciation to Akash Vats and his family for their contributions to the project and their belief in the vision we share. I would also be remiss were I not to express gratitude for our tech team, who Akash has worked tirelessly with, for the past few years to create our platform from scratch. I know through all of their hard work that they will be integral in the sites success in the times to come as well. These are all amazing people and I look forward to visiting India again soon.
And with these last words, “Thank you for your thought-provoking inquiries. Now let’s play some poker!”, Lichtenberger signs off.