4 Minutes Read
He’s already a known name on the live circuit with several impressive scores and has also carved a place for himself on the online world as well. We are talking of noted pro Kanishka Samant (cover image), who recently won the PokerBaazi Premier League (PPL) V Edition Main Event. The series has consistently grown in popularity and the latest edition was another resounding success with over 3,000 entries across 24 tournaments that awarded winners with over ₹1 crore in prize money!!
Kanishka is no stranger to notable cashes and has recently also made an eighth place finish in the PokerStars WCOOP-79: $320 NL Holdem – $150,000 Guaranteed. In live tournaments, he has never looked back since he claimed his first title at the Indian Poker Pros Main Event (for ₹5 Lakhs) in 2011. Last year, he won the India Poker Championship Main Event for ₹11.5 Lakhs.
A deep passion for poker has now gotten the former technical analyst in equity research to expand his activities beyond playing, towards poker-coaching, brand endorsement and a lot more. Kanishka’s dedication for the sport comes across in his words, which are presented here. He talks to us about his PPL win, his different activities in poker, his views, favorite players and some valuable advise on bankroll management, as he rightly puts it – “cash is the only raw material in poker”!
Hi, Kanishka, Thanks for speaking with us. It’s been a great year for you; both live and online, what do you have to say about it?
I initially started playing live only, and then moved to online poker, which actually helped me improve my game. I am comfortable playing live, mainly because I have always played live and with the online experience and working with Pocarr, I am comfortable in playing both.
Tell us about your association with PokerHigh.
The PokerHigh deal I signed last year in November and they have exactly the same vision, as I do like how the current poker situation of the country is. There are still many players who don’t want their pictures or association with Poker to be on social media, due to hesitation of family understanding of the sport. So I wanted to be associated with a company, which also wanted to remove this stigma of Poker, and they have always been keen on legalized procedures, even with the Nagaland bill passing recently. They want everything to be legitimate and want Poker to be recognized as a skilled sport. They also are actively involved in achieving the same goal and that’s exactly what I was looking for.
I am staked for live tournament and will be going for the WPT in the first week of January which I am looking forward to. I blog for them and basically open to offer any help for which they may require me for. We are one of the safest interfaces in the country to play on with a class leading technology and as a team we are always thinking of how we can make poker more fun for the players J
You were one of the key people behind the Rounders Poker Championship, which proved to be successful. Would you be interested in the business side of the industry; any upcoming ventures planned?
My goal is to basically represent the sport and portray the image it deserves of a mind sport. Poker has given so much, to so many people. The goal is to place poker as an accepted skilled sport in the country, so being associated with the event was to bring in a wave of interest and bring in some competitive motivation with a great mix of recreational and regulars , the success is solely of the interest it derives out of a lot of people out there who are passionate about the sport.
For me being associated with Rounders (Poker Championship) wasn’t a business venture rather a poker initiative that the community needs as having well-structured events, which are purely player centric, are getting rare. Every poker player looks for inspiration and motivation within the sport sometimes and when a recreational cash game player or any player for that matter experiences the “HIGH” of being deep in the tournament, that itself makes these initiatives worthwhile for me, not really a businessman I am (chuckles). So that was the idea behind that.
Please tell us about your staking and coaching project ‘Euphoria’. What role do you play in the project?
Well, me, Danish (Shaikh), Amit ‘bblacklegend’ Jain, Kartik Ved and Pranay Kapoor are behind the venture. My prominent role is coaching, mentoring but as a start up we share all duties. We conduct poker-coaching sessions for interested players. I conduct these sessions four times in a month and so does Danish, Kartik and Amit Jain, we have plans of offering Omaha coaching in the future that’s when Pranay Kapoor will conduct his sessions. We are looking for very hard working people. Any initiative we take, we are not looking for money as a primary goal rather just strive towards educating hardworking poker players how to deal with all aspects of a healthy poker life in the best way we can.
What’s your grinding schedule like? How much time do you devote to improve your game and how do you do it?
The only Goal of a poker player is to learn and work on his game I believe. The more you do, the better it is. I review my game as often as I can.
Being with Pocarr they obviously had a key role in diverting my strengths to the right place. Their view of playing the game is so professional and that probably is what is missing in India according to me. They have been my mentors in regards to discipline and game play along with Aditya Agarwal, Danish Shaikh, Kavin Shah and Amit Jain. I played more cash games probably in the past year then tournaments so I play two to three cash game sessions in a week. I have been travelling a lot for cash games and because of online poker being accessible from anywhere so I play the good events online too. I can revolve the grind along with my travel plans.
Please tell us about your PPL V Main event experience? You were in Varanasi at that time, how was the experience, setup – who else was playing with you? Any key hands you want to share?
Me, Jasven Saigal and Kavish Kukreja had plans to attend the Sunday grind together in Varanasi, as we were there for a friend’s (Abhishek Jalan) event. I played a couple of tournaments on PokerStars including the Sunday Milly (Sunday Million) and another attraction was the PokerHigh Fly in Europe last edition for Vienna and played a couple of events on PokerBaazi.
For PPL main event, I registered late and got to a good stack early but busted early too, then made a re-entry and was just in ‘The Zone’ during the grind. Every break to break I would discuss a troublesome situation with the guys and when 18 players were left in the tournament – Kavish too was deep in the Sunday Million. He took 58th place in the million and after my event got over, I was rooting for him, so close!
Please tell us about the play and journey at the final table of the main event. Any particular strategy you had in mind? Who were your toughest competitors?
I was just aware of the other stack sizes at the table and what spot I wanted to get my money in and which spots to avoid. I was pretty clear with those situations so I was playing pretty aggressive but at the right spots I feel. I knew Sahil ‘$lim$hady19’ Chuthani and couple of others on the final table and I didn’t want to get involved with the big stacks and looked for good spots/situations to play back against some of the good ones. Once I had a competing stack I just played solid.
Who are the players you look up to – both in domestic and international circuit?
Internationally I like Negreanu (Daniel Negreanu), more than his play I like the way he conducts at the table and maintains his image promoting the game and his manner. Both my coaches, Alex Carr and Robitinion.
Domestically we have a big group of poker players who are doing decent in the circuit both here and internationally and we have a lot of knowledge sharing among each other and I know a lot of friends keep bouncing hands. There have been many people like Adi (Aditya) Agarwal, Jasven Saigal, Danish Shaikh, Kavin Shah, Amit Jain, Dhaval Mudgal, Shravan Chhabria and gang. We all work towards motivating each other, which is the best thing.
What are your plans for future? Any set goals?
My goal is to try to promote the game in the best effort I can and help in giving it the stature it deserves along with joining a few social causes I believe in along the way.
Any parting words or anything you would like to add?
Nothing as such but be responsible as cash is the only raw material used in poker. So be responsible in the decisions you make. Good luck at the tables!