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The 53rd annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) that ran from May 31 to July 20 was indubitably a rousing success! A truckload of memorable moments, spectacular victories, and intriguing incidents ensured the 2022 WSOP would be remembered for years!
The series generated a lot of global excitement and anticipation from the poker masses. There is good reason for it, for not only was the ‘World’s Biggest Poker Festival’ returning to its traditional summer slot after three years, but it also marked the return of the mega festival to the Las Vegas Strip at its new home at the Bally’s (soon to be Horseshoe) and Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Returning after just seven months since its fall outing, the annual series set numerous records.
The most anticipated event at the WSOP, the Main Event, registered 8,663 entries, making it the second-largest field ever, falling 110 entries short of the 2006 record of 8,773 players. Norway’s Espen Jørstad was the last player standing, becoming the latest World Champion and taking home the championship gold bracelet and the $10 Million first-place prize.
Most poker heavyweights showed up for the series, including the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Ivey, and even some unwanted poker icons such as Bryn Kenney, Jake Schindler and Ali Imsirovic. Some well-known names were missing in action. Most notably, Doyle Brunson. The latest WPT Ambassador had indicated he would be playing the Main Event, but health concerns kept him away from the felts. He did deliver the ‘Shuffle Up & Deal’ announcement (via video message) on Day 8 of the Main Event.
Indians turned up in spades at the series. However, due to the lingering COVID-19 threat, the contingent was not as big as the one that made its way to Sin City in 2019. Nevertheless, Team India recorded at least 125 cashes throughout the series, including five final table finishes – a significant improvement over 2021’s 40 cashes and four FT finishes.
The Indian battalion saw most of the notables in attendance, including the five bracelet winners from the country, i.e., Abhinav Iyer, Aditya Sushant, Nipun Java, Nikita Luther, and Kartik Ved. While there were a plethora of amazing performances by the team, PokerGuru Ambassador Kartik Ved was hands down the star performer from the team with two FT finishes and a jaw-dropping $489,195 (~₹3.90 Crores) in total winnings this summer. His spectacular run at the series saw him sweep away three of the nine categories we have compiled in this feature!
His top finishes include:
While Ved was the ‘poster boy’ of Team India’s 2022 WSOP run, there was a fleet of other fantastic runs by Indian contenders. One such performance came from Sriharsha Doddapaneni, who was the last Indian standing in the 2022 WSOP Main Event and cashed for $46,800 (~₹37.23 Lakhs) in 249th place.
Aditya Agarwal made his 16th appearance in the annual series this year. The original ‘Poker Guru’ kicked off this year’s series with a final table finish in Event #3: $2,500 Freezeout No-Limit Hold’em (9th for $23,634, ~₹18.36 Lakhs) and wrapped up the summer with five cashes, cumulatively worth $87,905 (~₹70.23 Lakhs).
Other consistent performers in the series included bracelet winner Abhinav Iyer (8 cashes for $115,183, ~₹91.96 Lakhs) and Young Gun Neel Joshi (8 cashes for $78,612, ~₹62.76 Lakhs).
The WSOP is always the center of attention for poker players every summer. However, several exciting tournament series are hosted alongside the mega series in other casinos in Las Vegas. When not grinding at the WSOP felts, Indians (like many other pros) often join many such non-bracelet tournaments and have been known to rake in massive scores in them in recent years. This year, the bragging rights of making the best live finish in a non-WSOP event go to Abhinav Iyer. The bracelet winner finished fifth in the Venetian DeepStack Championship Serie Event #104: $1,600 NLHE Monster Bounty for $20,247 (~₹16.16 Lakhs).
The coveted gold bracelet has eluded Indian players for two years. Kartik Ved was the last Indian player to win a bracelet when he shipped Event #64: $840 Turbo Bounty NLHE of the 2020 WSOP Online Series. While there were no bracelets to brag about this year, the team brought back a WSOP Circuit gold ring. Ved’s PokerGuru Staking stablemate PokerGuru Ambassador Ashish Ahuja championed Event #11 – $100,000 GTD NLH Double Stack at the 2022 WSOP.com Circuit Series for $28,883 (~₹23.07 Lakhs).
Let’s take a glance at the notable performances by Team India this summer:
WSOP 2022 Team India Report Card
Star of the Series & Highest Scorer Kartik Ved
Most Cumulative Cashes (WSOP) Kartik Ved
Deepest Run in the Main Event Sriharsha Doddapaneni
WSOP Debut Nathan Rao
Most Consistent Player at the WSOP Aditya Agarwal
Deepest Online Run in a Non-Bracelet Event Ashish Ahuja
Deepest Run in an Online Bracelet Event Yudhishter Jaswal
Highest Score in a Non-WSOP Event Abhinav Iyer
Star of the Series & Highest Scorer: Kartik Ved
PokerGuru Ambassador Kartik Ved‘s trailblazing run at the 2022 WSOP deems him worthy of the ‘Star of the Series’ title. The only Indian to make two final table finishes at the mega-series, Ved’s third-place finish in Event #66: $1,000 MINI Main Event No-Limit Hold’em (freezeout) for $275,593 (~₹2.17 Crores) also earned him the ‘highest scorer’ tag.
Talking about his two FT finishes, Ved joked, “It was fun and unexpected. Luckily both weren’t streamed.”
“It feels good to get good results, boosts the confidence,” he added.
Most Cumulative Cashes (WSOP): Kartik Ved
Kartik Ved had a terrific summer in Las Vegas, something which is very apparent with how the Goa resident sits on top of three of the nine categories we have outlined in this feature. With nine cashes and a jaw-dropping $489,195 (~₹3.90 Crores) in total winnings, Ved pulled off one of the most prolific runs ever by an Indian at the annual series.
Ved opened his 2022 WSOP scorecard with a 123rd place finish in Event #18: $1,000 Freezeout No-Limit Holdem. He picked up four more scores in various bracelet events before grabbing his biggest score (also the highest score by an Indian at the 2022 WSOP) from his third-place finish in Event #66: $1,000 MINI Main Event No-Limit Hold’em (freezeout) worth a whopping $275,593 (~₹2.17 Crores).
He was second in chips among five finalists entering the final day of the MINI Main Event and one of the top contenders to take down his second bracelet. He got off to a promising start but fell out in third place when his were cracked by the eventual champion, Young Sik‘s that spiked an Ace on the turn.
This was the highest score by an Indian at the 2022 WSOP and the fourth-highest score overall, behind previous finishes by Abhinav Iyer (1st in Event #84: The Closer – $1,500 No-Limit Hold ’em), Paawan Bansal (2nd in Event #75: The Closer – $1,500 No-Limit Hold ’em) and Aditya Agarwal (2nd in Event #76: Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold ’em).
Following his Mini Main Event run, Ved made another two deep runs in Event #70: $10,000 MAIN EVENT No-Limit Hold’em World Championship and Event #75: $777 Lucky 7’s No-Limit Hold’em 7-Handed, before wrapping up summer with a bang.
His last cash of the series in Event #87: $5,000 8-Handed No-Limit Hold’em had the Indian rail, once again, at the edge of their seats. The bracelet winner was the chip leader once the field was down to nine players. However, he lost two massive pots to nine-time bracelet winner Erik Seidel, which halted his momentum. Towards the end of Level 31, in a decisive hand, Ved lost a massive pot to eventual winner Michael Wang. Fifteen minutes later, Ved was eliminated by Farid Jattin when his failed to hold up against Jattin’s that flopped a pair of Jacks. Ved finished fourth for $172,103 (~₹1.37 Crores) – his third-best finish at the WSOP.
After his breakout run at the 2022 WSOP, Ved now sits on $783,303 (~₹6.25 Crores) in lifetime WSOP earnings on the back of 20 cashes.
Deepest Run in the Main Event: Sriharsha Doddapaneni
The WSOP Main Event is one tournament any poker player who can afford the $10,000 buy-in wants to play. Almost every poker player who makes their way to Las Vegas looks forward to making a deep run in arguably the most prestigious poker tournament in the world.
While an Indian is yet to win the Main Event, many have made notable runs in the prestigious event in recent years. This year, Sriharsha Doddapaneni was the last Indian standing in the Main Event and finished 249th for $46,800 (~₹37.23 Lakhs).
Doddapaneni scored in only one other bracelet event at the 2022 WSOP, finishing 185th in Event #85: $1,500 The Closer – No-Limit Hold’em for $3,800 (~₹3.03 Lakhs)! With 23 cashes in live bracelet events on his resume, Doddapaneni currently boasts $126,928 (~₹1.01 Crores) in lifetime WSOP winnings. His most significant WSOP score came in 2021 WSOP Online Series Event #12: $1K DOUBLE STACK, where he finished third for a whopping $357,408 (~₹2.65 Crores).
This year, 30 Indians qualified for Day 2ABC and Day 2D from the four starting flights, contributing to the second-largest field of 8,663 entries in WSOP Main Event history. Only half, i.e., 15 Indians, advanced to Day 3. The number was further reduced to just six Indians who progressed to Day 4.
Sriharsha Doddapaneni, who bagged the biggest stack of 841,000 among the six Indians advancing to Day 4, had been erroneously skipped by WSOP in the end-of-Day 2ABC and start-of-Day 3 chip counts list. The MTT reg was the only Indian to carry forward a stack to Day 5, where he fell out in 249th place.
Aditya Systla (575th for $25,500, ~₹20.27 Lakhs), Chiraag Patel (869th for $17,000, ~₹13.51 Lakhs), Young Gun Arsh Grover (803rd for $19,000, ~₹15.11 Lakhs), MPL Poker Pro Siddharth Karia (747th for $21,000, ~₹16.70 Lakhs) and PokerGuru Ambassador Kartik Ved (891st for $17,000, ~₹13.52 Lakhs) were the other Indians who scored in the Main Event.
WSOP Debutant: Nathan Rao
Nathan Rao made an impressive debut at the World’s Biggest Poker Festival.’ He opened his WSOP scorecard in style, finishing 20th in Event #49: $2,000 No-Limit Holdem for a career-best $18,930 (~₹15.13 Lakhs). The event registered a massive 1,997-player field.
Rao’s first appearance at the 2022 WSOP yielded two cashes for cumulative winnings of $20,832 (~₹16.65 Lakhs).
The New York resident made one other ITM finish in Event #57: $600 Deepstack Championship No-Limit Hold’em, netting $1,902 (~₹1.52 Lakhs) in 216th place.
Most Consistent Player at the WSOP: Aditya Agarwal
There is a reason why Aditya Agarwal is often referred to as ‘India’s poker pioneer.’ The poker superstar was one of the first Indians to start playing poker professionally and the first to represent India at poker`s biggest stage, the WSOP.
Agarwal has been making the journey to WSOP since 2006, when he was just 21. This year was his 16th appearance in the series. He was one of the early birds at the 2022 WSOP and got off to his best start yet at the annual series, making a ninth-place finish in Event #3: $2,500 Freezeout No-Limit Hold’em for $23,634 (~₹18.36 Lakhs).
Agarwal was seventh in chips when the unofficial ten-handed final table was formed and fell in ninth place after his lost out to David Goodman‘s .
This was his third time making it to the FT in a bracelet event. His deepest run at the WSOP happens to be his runner-up in the 2021 WSOP Event #76: Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold’em (freezeout) for a career-best $286,705 (~₹2.13 Crores).
The 37-year-old is best known for his consistency in cashing the WSOP Main Event, with his first ITM finish in the marquee event dating back to 2006. To date, he has cashed the Main Event eight times, the most by an Indian. Sadly, his last Main Event score had come in 2019, when he finished 844th for $18,535 (~₹12.70 Lakhs). He is just three cashes away from overtaking joint leaders Berry Johnston, Allen Cunningham, and Johnny Chan, with ten Main Event cashes each.
While Agarwal missed out on scoring in the Main Event, he still picked up five cashes this year, amounting to $87,905 (~₹70.23 Lakhs). He presently has 53 cashes (WSOP – 51 & WSOPC – 2) and $959,312 (~₹7.66 Crores) in total winnings at the WSOP.
Deepest Online Run in a Non-Bracelet Event: Ashish Ahuja
While Team India couldn`t win a gold bracelet this year, one player managed to clinch a WSOP Circuit gold ring. PokerGuru Ambassador Ashish Ahuja trounced a field of 417 players in Event #11 – $100,000 GTD NLH Double Stack at the 2022 WSOP.com Circuit Series for $28,883 (~₹23.07 Lakhs), claiming his first-ever WSOP Circuit gold ring! Anthony Pagan finished runner-up for $21,382.
Here is an interesting bit of info! Ahuja was playing the tournament on his mobile phone while escaping the Paris Ballroom when rumors of an alleged shooter began to circulate, leading to a stampede. Talk about racing one’s way to victory!
For his win in the circuit event, Ahuja was one of only two Indians (the other being Nipun Java) who participated in the end-of-series, invitation-only bracelet event – Tournament of Champions. Sadly, he failed to make Day 2.
The Chandigarh-based pro was a late arrival in Las Vegas and cashed three events at the 2022 WSOP, pocketing $3,937 (~₹3.14 Lakhs).
Deepest Run in an Online Bracelet Event: Yudhishter Jaswal
The London-based Indian MTT reg Yudhishter Jaswal is well known for his online and live poker expeditions. His best score this summer came in Online Event #5: $600 Online Deepstack Championship, where he finished fifth for $36,415 (~₹28.59 Lakhs).
The lone Indian player on the FT, Jaswal, clashed against Nicolas “Zskrrrrt” Zolofra in a battle of the blinds when Zolofra moved all-in from the small blind with . The short-stacked Jaswal called off with , putting his tournament life on the line. The board ran , and Zolofra took down the pot, ending Jaswal’s bracelet run.
Jaswal picked up four cashes at the series, pocketing $41,542 (~₹33.17 Lakhs).
Highest Score in a Non-WSOP Event: Abhinav Iyer
Indian poker stalwart Abhinav Iyer raked in scores all over Las Vegas this year. His most prominent finish outside the WSOP was his fifth-place finish in Event #104: $1,600 NLHE Monster Bounty at the Venetian DeepStack Championship Series for $20,247 (~₹16.16 Lakhs). This was the highest score by an Indian in a non-bracelet event this summer.
Iyer also made deep runs in Event #42: $600 NLHE The Grand Stack (127th for $805, ~₹64,266) at the MGM Grand Summer Series and Event #55: $1,100 NLHE (132nd for $1,895, ~₹1.51 Lakhs) at The Grand Poker Series at the Golden Nugget.
Iyer collected eight cashes at the 53rd annual WSOP grossing $115,183 (~₹91.96 Lakhs). His deepest run in the series came in Event #25: $800 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack, where he finished seventh for $56,388 (~₹43.99 Lakhs).
Content & Images Courtesy: WSOP, PokerNews & PokerGO