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The last three days at the India Poker Championship (IPC) have been nothing short of electrifying. With poker room packed to the brim, all three days have seen record-breaking turnouts at the series that is making a comeback after a good three and a half years.
Friday was a busy day at the Spartan Live poker room onboard the Big Daddy Casino with the two featured events on the schedule running alongside each other. The action started with the ₹100K High Roller that kicked off Day 2 at 3 PM with 70 surviving players from a record-breaking 207-entry field taking their seats. It took over 13 hours of play to get to a winner, and once the dust had settled, it was well-known online pro-Pranay Chawla who came out on top of the massive field to win the jaw-dropping ₹51.66 Lakhs up top!
The Noida-resident who is a graduate in Business Economics and was part of the Poker Sports League (PSL) Season 2 winning team Goan Nuts has only a handful of recorded live scores, but his online resume is far more illustrious. Chawla has had a breakout year on the virtual felts that saw him winning the Destiny 8.0 on Spartan Poker in February for ₹5 Lakhs. His other standout performance saw him chopping PokerBaazi’s ‘The Game Changer 1.0 ₹2 Crores GTD’ where he finished fourth for a whopping ₹33 Lakhs.
Coming into Day 2, Chawla steadily built his stack to enter the final table as the chip leader. He sent four of his final table opponents to the rail before squaring off with Nitish Gupta heads-up, eventually taking down the title after his rivered full house busted Gupta’s two-pair!
“I kinda feel I was destined to win when a couple of hands at the FT went my way, and I got lucky a few times. End of the day I’m really happy, and it’s just about starting to sink in,” said Chawla, who started playing poker six years ago and considers himself a semi-professional player.
“I really don’t have anything in mind,” Chawla said, talking about his plans to spend the prize money he has won. “When it comes to poker, for me, it’s not really about the money. It’s just sheer love for the game.”
This was the largest IPC event to-date though the Main Event seems well on track to beat the record later today. Day 1A of the Main Event registered 390 entries last night, and there is another starting flight that takes place today – so it’s safe to assume that we will be witnessing another record-breaking turnout.
It took more than 13 hours for Day 2 of the High Roller to play from start to finish and while a host of bigwigs like Raghav Bansal, Jasven Saigal, Nikita Luther, and Eka Vedantham – to name a few- fell out empty-handed, capturing the title for his first-ever live title was none other than Pranay Chawla! Incidentally, one of the rivals that Chawla dismissed on the final table was his PSL Goan Nuts mentor and team captain Dhaval Mudgal. Talking about that, Chawla said, “Yeah I didn’t really think about it till Dhaval brought it up and we were joking about chopping this IPC High Roller in the end.. just some fun banter at the table. On a serious note though, he’s been a big influence, and I have a lot of respect for Dhaval and got to learn many things from him about approaching the game.”
As for our first-ever Young Gun, Nitish Gupta, who most famously took down the PokerBaazi’s PPL Winter ’18 The MoneyMaker ₹1 Crores GTD in December last year for ₹32.63 Lakhs, finishing runner-up didn’t turn out to be a bad deal either, as he collected ₹35.24 Lakhs for his brilliant run.
2018 WPT Vietnam Main Event champion Dhaval Mudgal (5th for ₹9.81 Lakhs), and co-partner in the Casino Pride poker room Vikram Kumar (7th for ₹6.93 Lakhs) were among the other notable final table finishers in the event.
The excitement was palpable at the Casino Big Daddy in Goa on Friday afternoon where 70 runners took their seats to play Day 2 of the ₹100K High Roller. With a life-changing ₹51.66 Lakhs reserved for the winner and 24 top finishers assured to take home at least ₹1.88 Lakhs, there was a lot at stake.
It took nearly four hours for the money bubble to burst and a plethora of big names fell out empty-handed that included the likes of defending champion Sangeeth Mohan, bracelet winner Nikita Luther, Casino Pride’s Madhav Gupta, Eka Vedantham, Raghav Bansal, Alok Birewar, Jasven Saigal, Sam Anand, Abhishek Jalan, Phanindra Akkina, Sahil Mahboobani, and Deepak Bothra.
The Chennai-based Gokul Raj who was playing his first ₹1 Lakh buy-in tournament and has been in phenomenal form recently had a good start. He eliminated Sangeeth Mohan in the first level of the night and was sporting a sizeable stack through the early levels. However, Raj lost a few hands to come down to half a million in chips as the bubble approached. The young star then faced an all-in from Jimmy George and lost a crucial flip where he held pocket queens vs. the latter’s ace-king. The board gave George two-pair sending Raj out on the money bubble.
Raj even expressed his disappointment in his Instagram story.
The first player to finish in the money was Anil Gulati (24th for ₹1.88 Lakhs).
Soon, start-of-day chip leader Praveeen Dwarkanath ran his ace-jack into Pradeep Sharma’s ace-king to be left with only 50,000. Dwarkanath eventually made his way out in 19th place (₹2.49 Lakhs).
Some of the other notables who managed to make it in the money were Raman Gujral (9th for ₹5.18 Lakhs), Pradeep Sharma (10th for ₹4.46 Lakhs), Ganesh Kompella (11th for ₹4.46 Lakhs), Manish Gandhi (12th for ₹4.46 Lakhs), Nishant Sharma (13th for ₹3.77 Lakhs), Jai’ Joey’ Saha (14th for ₹3.77 Lakhs) and Siddharth Karia (15th for ₹3.77 Lakhs).
Jimmy George (8th for ₹6.04 Lakhs) bubbled the final table after being eliminated by Pranay Chawla. That elimination shot Chawla up to 6.58 Million in chips, and he entered the seven-handed final table as the table captain. Ankit Wadhawan (5,910,000) and Vaibhav Sharma (5,830,000) were the next closest stacks, while the affable Vikram ‘Lungi’ Kumar (1,640,000) was sporting the shortest stack and the start of the final table.
Final Table Chip Counts
You can watch the complete live stream of the final table action here.
Final Table Recap
Poker vlogger, partner at the Casino Pride poker room and well-known poker player Vikram “Lungi” Kumar was sporting the shortest stack when the final table began. ‘Lungi’ was, however, unable to climb up and became the first elimination after his all-in shove with found a caller in Ankit Wadhawan who turned over . An ace or six would have bailed Kumar out, but the rundown saw Wadhawan improving to a set, sending Kumar out in seventh place.
About 30 minutes later, Gaurav Kathuria moved all-in with only to get a call from Pranay Chawla who showed . The board ran , and Chawla’s broadway forced Kathuria out to the payout desk to collect the sixth-place paycheque that incidentally happened to be his career-best live score!
The play then slowed down for a while before Chawla claimed his next victim in Dhaval Mudgal. The hand saw Chawla fire a bet of 500,000 on which Mudgal moved all-in for 3.25 Million. Chawla immediately called, turning over pocket jacks that had Mudgal’s pocket fives dominated. Nothing on the board came to Mudgal’s rescue, and the former WPT Vietnam Main Event champion was relegated to the rail in fifth place.
A massive pot was then witnessed where Chawla tangled with Nitish Gupta. Both players had flopped a pair of kings, but Gupta held the ace kicker and scooped the pot to add nearly 4 Million to his stack. Gupta now had a stack of 9.9 Million and was close behind Chawla who was chip leading with 10.9 Million.
Chawla extended his lead further by sending Ankit Wadhawan out in fourth place with his making two-pair on the board, busting Wadhawan’s .
Vaibhav Sharma was another accomplished player on the final table. Sharma, who has a string of live and online scores to his names – one of his recent online wins having come in June when he took down the Adda52 Mega Suits for ₹7.35 Lakhs – ran exceedingly well in the High Roller, but this is as far as he’d go. Sharma opted to move all-in pre-flop with his stack of 4.2 Million and in his hand. Chawla made the call with . The board ran bringing Chawla two-pair of jacks and aces and eliminating Sharma in third place for a personal best ₹20.9 Lakhs payday.
After a grueling four hours of play on the final table, it was time for the heads-up play between Pranay Chawla and Nitish Gupta. Chawla was the clear favorite with 19 Million in chips as against Gupta’s 12 Million. Gupta fought hard and won a few successive pots to close the distance, but in the end, Chawla took down the title. The last hand of the tournament saw Gupta moving all-in with , and Chawla called with . The runout gave Chawla a full house, and his first live title!
Final Table Results (INR)
Content & Images Courtesy: Gutshot Magazine & India Poker Championship
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