5 Minutes Read
Young Gun Siddharth Karia has been a poster boy for poker in India for some time now. While his online poker exploits are exemplary, his live tournament ventures have also been stellar. The 30-year-old has yet to win a live title, but he has been relentlessly crushing the virtual felts!
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Karia’s recent association with MPL Poker is a special add-on to his list of overflowing achievements. The online poker arm of Mobile Premier League, one of India’s largest fantasy sports platforms, onboarded Karia as its Team Pro in May, just before the 2022 World Series of Poker (WSOP) commenced in Las Vegas. Karia represented the online poker brand at the ‘World’s Biggest Poker Festival’ and did well, totaling $47,775 (₹38.20 Lakhs) through deep runs in six bracelet events.
Before we get to Karia’s recent achievements, let’s take a quick look at how he got this far. Karia was introduced to poker by his elder brother in high school. His passion for the game heightened when he, like his brother, joined Symbiosis Institute for his BBA studies. However, at the time, he was unaware that poker could be pursued professionally.
He completed his MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and poker took a back seat. Upon returning from the US, Karia learned about the Poker Sports League from a friend. Following his friend’s encouragement, Karia applied for PSL and was selected to play for the Goan Nuts. As luck would have it, his team won Season 2 in 2018.
During his time at PSL, Karia realized the potential of playing poker as a career option after interacting with several international and domestic pros. He turned full-time poker pro just a few months after the PSL.
Online MTTs are Karia`s stronghold, given the numerous flagship titles he has won in his relatively short poker career. His biggest career achievement to date was winning Spartan Poker’s FTS 2.0 Main Event for a jaw-dropping ₹32.26 Lakhs. Adding another feather to his cap, Karia took down the inaugural FCS Main Event for ₹21.30 Lakhs on August 14, climbing to #2 in the August leaderboard rankings (monthly winnings – ₹46.63 Lakhs).
Donning the Role of an MPL Poker Team Pro
Karia was announced as MPL Poker’s new Team Pro in May. While it’s been three months, his association with the brand is still relatively new.
Speaking of how the journey as an MPL Poker Team Pro has been thus far, Karia said, “It’s amazing. The journey, both before it and after it, has been amazing. Of course, going through the grind, coming up from small, mid, and high stakes, and doing well consistently, have been the pre-journey. But post has been amazing as well. I have got some very good run going on. Also, things that I get to do around poker that I was always interested in are very fulfilling as well.”
His Poker Journey
Interestingly, Karia started playing poker because of his elder brother. “It is an interesting story. My elder brother and I grew up together. We played a lot of sports, fought a lot, and were very competitive. We would always play some card games. One fine day, he said, ‘I can’t play any other game than poker.’ I didn’t know what poker was. So, I was like, ‘Okay, but why?’ He said, ‘Like it is so much fun. It has strategy and skill. I am not going to play anything else.’ So, I had to basically learn poker to play with my brother. Then I went to the same college that he did. “College” because we didn’t study; we just played a lot of poker.”
While Karia began playing poker in 2017, he got serious about the mind sport in 2019, when he decided to turn pro.
“That was a long time back. Undergrad happened, and at that time, I didn’t think playing poker was professional; even if it was, I don’t think it was legal. And even if it was legal, I was not aware of it. This was around 2009-10. I was doing well for myself. I was playing with a much of recreational players. I was one too, but I used to do very well. As I thought this couldn’t be a legit career, I stopped concentrating on it. I focussed on business studies and did my MBA. Then once that happened, I came back and heard about it, at a friend’s wedding, from a friend who used to play poker with me ki ‘Bro PSL ho raha hai. Poker Sports League, do you know about it? It’s like the IPL of poker. You should give it a shot.’
“I did that. Got selected for Goan Nuts. I saw all the professionals there, especially people from abroad who played professionally for 10-15 years. People here as well who were doing it for a living. And I was like, these people are talking sense. The strategies they used to talk about felt like cheat codes. Like ‘Haan yaar, agar ye karoge toh phas jayega samne wala banda.’ It was a very good strategy. So, I realized there is more to poker than I had thought then. I started putting in the work and started studying. I started doing two-three things together, poker being the center of it. And then eventually, I turned professional.”
Attending the 2022 WSOP in Las Vegas
Karia was a part of the large Indian contingent that attended the 2022 WSOP. While he had participated in the WSOP twice before, this was his first time playing the series as an MPL Poker Team Pro. The Young Gun scored in six bracelet events, locking in $47,775 (₹38.20 Lakhs).
Karia shared his experiences from the series: “This was my third trip to (Las) Vegas just for the World Series Of Poker. It’s always something to really wait for and something that all the players are excited about. This time the plan was to do the whole series. Because of two close weddings, I just went like four-five days late and did the rest of the series. It was very exciting. My plans were set. I was going to go as it is. Just before that, MPL (Poker) contacted me. I signed a deal as their poker pro. I was representing them, too, at the World Series. So, the whole experience of that, right before the series, was a little overwhelming because a lot of things were happening. But, of course, I knew I was ready for the series with my study and everything in place, so that helped.”
Sharing his experience in the series, Karia said, “The moments at the World Series were beautiful. If I put it in brief, the first 7-10 days are a little overwhelming because you want to play everything; everything is new. You’re sorting your stay, just transactions like getting in the cash. Just basic logistic stuff. With that and the magnitude of the World Series, the excitement and the thrill that goes with it. So, the first 7-10 days were that. I ran a little bad at the beginning. So, dealing with variance, predominantly played online before this because of the lockdown. The variance online is very low, especially for decent Indian players and regs. The variance is pretty less, but when you go live, you have to deal with the variance. So, that was a standout moment, ensuring that my mindset did not get affected due to the variance. And then all the deep runs that were there. Coming close to winning a bracelet. Really believing that ‘Okay, this is possible.’ And giving it a good fight. Overall, it was a good journey.”
Secret Behind Crushing Online MTTs
A glance at Karia’s online portfolio will reveal a long list of marquee titles. He has already won 9 this year! His biggest win this year was shipping Spartan Poker’s first-ever Freedom Celebration Series Main Event for ₹21.30 Lakhs!
Karia has also been doing well on his ‘home turf,’ i.e., MPL Poker, running deep in the site’s flagship tourneys such as Monday Madness and Sunday Showstopper.
Karia said about the secret behind his success, “On MPL, it’s juicy. The fields are amazing. I won’t lie. I want everyone to play there. I think it’s pretty good. Not all the best regs are playing. So, I can’t say that I am crushing because of my own skill. So, these things are there. But apart from that, just player profiling well. And it’s my home turf. I am representing MPL. I am supposed to do well over there.”
MPL Poker’s MTT Offerings Upping the Ante
MPL Poker launched in 2019, and since then, the site has been aggressive in its strategies to attract the poker-playing masses, both regs, and recreational players.
Commenting on MPL Poker’s growing poker base, Karia said, “It’s very special. Of course, there are the regs who will be playing there more. They are launching their desktop app in a few months. I think that is going to be huge. But also the other players that they are getting in the field. People from e-sports. People from other parts who are not there in the poker industry before. So I think seeing that excites me. Makes me feel that poker could really boom, and we could play a role in it. So, that’s pretty special.”
“Bohot soft hai. Abhi toh bohot value hai. Just come play. They are progressing. They are learning on the job all the time. So, I would say it is a very good long-term investment. Start early, start fresh now,” added Karia, encouraging players to sign up on MPL Poker.
While discussing the boom in live tournament action in the Asian circuit, Karia also talks about his future plans and what he has been up to since returning from the WSOP.
“It’s booming, right? There is so much FOMO, I am like, ‘Log ye kar rahe hain! I wanna go there also. I want to go to the World Series also.’ There is so much to do. But one has to be clear with their goals. Mine is clear. I wanted to do two months of World Series. Now, my plans for the next two months were always to stay back home. Work on things with MPL. Work on my own game. Also, I have been coaching and staking players. So, my goal is to increase that. People think my wins are being displayed, but these guys are doing amazingly well in the background. I am very excited to maybe add more players in our second batch.”
Sharing how interested players can reach out to him for coaching, Karia said, “I am the most active right now on Instagram. So, ‘schemer_karia’ is where they can reach me. And I’ll be happy to help.”
Advice For Upcoming Poker Players
Karia had some solid words of advice for players just getting into poker. “Apart from the normal to-dos, the studying, the technical part, the courses, GTO, simulation, etc., I think the mindset is least focussed on. I think self-awareness and how you feel about things are most important. It’s my strength too, so I naturally focus more on that. So, I would say that focusing on how you feel is something I prioritize the most. If you can focus on it naturally, that’s great. If not, taking help, taking some coaching could be a game changer.”
“Keep the momentum up if you are in it and are doing well. If not, go back to the lab. Study and then come back and grind,” with those parting words, Karia signs off.