5 Minutes Read
Winning an online poker event for the very first time is an incredible experience, but winning a Millionaire title for your first-ever online title is just ‘out-of-the-world’! This is precisely what happened with the latest Millionaire champion – Saurabh Rohila (cover image) who took down the SSS#61 Millionaire ₹1 Crore GTD title on Spartan Poker last Sunday for ₹23.46 Lakhs!
The 27-year-old IIT Delhi graduate came across poker during his college days in 2011. With college mates like Kalyan Chakravarthy and Devang Yadav, it was only a matter of time before Rohila began to take more interest in the mind sport.
A self-taught player, Rohila is a newbie in the circuit. In fact, he wasn’t even aware until today that he was playing one of the most well-known pros in the industry, Raman Gujral, heads-up for the Millionaire title!
Rohila, who works for an e-commerce company in Bengaluru, may not be a pro but still knows how to multi-table like a champion. While he was heads-up against Gujral for the SSS#61 Millionaire ₹1 Crore GTD title, he was also in the reckoning to win the SSS#63 Electric Big Daddy ₹10 Lakhs GTD. Though he eventually missed out on taking down the Electric Big Daddy, finishing runner-up for ₹1.52 Lakhs instead, he more than made up for it by taking down the Millionaire title for a windfall ₹23.46 Lakhs! His cumulative winnings for Sunday were a staggering ₹24.96 Lakhs.
Speaking to me after his splendid Sunday run, Rohila spilled the beans on his phenomenal Millionaire victory, his poker journey so far, among other things. Here are excerpts of the interview.
Hi Saurabh, and thanks for speaking to me! Let’s get the most obvious question out of the way first – how does it feel to become the latest Spartan Poker Millionaire?
I can’t describe this feeling! I didn’t know how to react to this at 4 am in the morning. But yeah, it gave me a really good confidence boost. I always wanted to be in this spot.
With the ‘Janata Curfew’ being observed on March 22, it was especially crowded on the online felts. Almost all big-ticket events surpassed their guarantee. The Millionaire too pulled in 1,256 entries. What was it like playing in such a reg-infested field?
Frankly speaking, I was multitasking, cooking in between, and chatting with friends. So, in the early stages, I played in quite a relaxed manner. In the later stages, I focussed a lot, especially on making a bigger stack, squeezing on the best spots, and controlling the pot.
Can you share some interesting hands that you played in the tourney or any tough spots that you were in?
One hand I remember was on the final table that I had entered in seventh place. I called on ace high and with what I read through in that hand as I was putting my opponent on a flush draw. As it turned out, he had that, so it was a good call. So that took me to the third position in chips, and I guess that was the game-changing moment for me.
It was a tough final table with a lot of experienced players. Any standout hands or adjustments you had to make to get the title?
Frankly speaking, no. I am not a regular, so I didn’t even know who was playing and who were the experienced names. I kept on playing my game, and things worked out well.
Your heads-up rival was Raman Gujral, one of the most experienced names in the business. Tell us what your strategy was for the heads-up match? What was it like playing against such a veteran pro?
As I said earlier, I didn’t know Raman Gujral till today morning, but yeah, I am happy that I shipped this against such a big player. My only strategy was to put as much pressure and take out as many chips as possible from him.
Besides the Millionaire, you were also in the hunt to grab the title in the Electric Big Daddy. You were nearly there but ultimately finished runner-up. Tell us a little about that heads-up match as well.
I was playing two final tables at the same time, and the pay jumps on the Millionaire were significant, so I was actually focussing more on that table. I could have taken more time in Electric Big Daddy rather than shoving early, I guess. The heads-up in the Big Daddy didn’t even last more than 10 minutes!
Tell us about your poker journey so far. When and how did it start and your progression in the mind sport over time?
I started playing poker back in 2011 during my college days for fun. Even today, I play it for fun, but with time, I have increased my stakes, and my understanding of the game has also grown.
Do you feel that your background as an IITian (strong quant background) gives you an edge over others?
Definitely, it’s all maths, but this maths isn’t that tough to understand. I try to play as mathematically as possible, but yeah, I do consider that there is an amount of luck involved. But in the long run, it’ll be normalized with a skillful mathematical game.
What is your grind routine like?
I don’t play regularly. I play 3-4 tourneys in a month and a few cash games online.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your life? Has this in any way given you more time for poker?
For recent tournaments, yes and even the Millionaire as well. But I hope and pray that the situation comes under control as soon as possible.
Who are the poker players, both domestic and international, that you look up to?
I have a couple of friends from my college, like Devang Yadav and Kalyan Chakravarthy, who play full-time. So, I keep discussing a few things with them. I also follow videos of bencb.
It is a common opinion that having a poker mentor can significantly help an emerging player in enhancing their gameplay. How prominent a role has mentoring played in your poker career?
I learnt it all myself. I don’t have a mentor yet.
Do you have training subscriptions – RIO (Run it Once), RYE (Raise Your Edge), Upswing Poker, etc.?
Any plans to venture into the live MTT scene or even cash games once the scene opens up?
Yes, for sure.
And with that, Rohila signs off!