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Thrilling action, remarkable display of skills and nail-biting finishes, these were the ingredients at the 2018 World Poker Tour (WPT) India ₹55K Main Event! After four-long days of electrifying action, the Main Event has finally come to a close today and topping the massive field of 697 entries was Nikunj Jhunjhunwala (cover image). The Mumbai-based player won his career-first WPT title, which was accompanied by a best live cash of ₹66.35 Lakhs.
A veteran on the domestic circuit, Jhunjhunwala’s most notable scores include his back-to-back wins at the India Poker Championship (IPC) in December 2015. Jhunjhunwala won the ₹50,000 + 4,500 No Limit Hold’em – IPC Main Event for ₹20 Lakhs and the ₹100,000 No Limit Hold’em – Highroller for ₹15.41 Lakhs at the IPC season finale in Dec 2015. His trailblazing run at the stop won him the IPC Player of the Year (POY) and over time he has become a force to be reckoned within the domestic poker fraternity.
The cash game specialist’s journey in the WPT India Main Event was an extraordinary one. Joining the event through Day 1B, Jhunjhunwala bagged 114,000 in chips to advance to Day 2. He began the final table as the shortest stack and thereafter steadily built up his stack, eliminating Adda52 Team pro Amit Jain, Akshay Nasa and Deepak Singh along the way.
He faced Sahil Mahboobani in the heads-up play and even though both players were equal in stacks, in the end, Jhunjhunwala’s experience at deep structured tournaments came in handy, as he defeated Mahboobani to win this record-breaking tournament.
Fielded across three staring flights, the Main Event featured a plethora of some of the biggest names in Indian poker including Team PokerStars India pros Aditya Agarwal and Muskan Sethi, Dhaval Mudgal, Paawan Bansal, Shuchi Chamaria, Adda52 Team pros Nikita Luther, Kunal Patni and Young Gun Ashish Munot.
Bringing in 679 entries, the Main Event not only collected a humongous prize pool of ₹3,62,49,576, but also eclipsed the attendance record set at the 2017 WPT India Main Event and the 2018 WPT Vietnam Main Event.
While many notables busted out empty-handed, several were able to finish in the money including Rohit Mishra (11th for ₹5.49 Lakhs), Ashish Kaushik (12th for ₹5.49 Lakhs) and Day 1A chip leader Niranjan NJ (14th for ₹4.38 Lakhs).
Following Yuvraj Chaudhary‘s (10th for ₹5.49 Lakhs) elimination, the final table was formed.
1. Deepak Singh – 4,595,000
2. Amit Jain – 4,500,000
3. Harsh Dembla – 3,050,000
4. Sahil Mahboobani – 2,755,000
5. Vidur Singhal – 2,410,000
6. Kanishk Upreti – 1,665,000
7. Akshay Nasa – 1,660,000
8. Hidangmayum Somesh – 1,620,000
9. Nikunj Jhunjhunwala – 1,460,000
Play continued till level 29 before the first elimination on the nine-handed final table took place. Harsh Dembla doubled up twice through Deepak Singh before falling prey to the latter. Singh raised to 170,000 from middle position with and Dembla called from big blind with . The flop fell and Singh led out for 145,000. Dembla check-raised to 475,000 and Singh re-raised all-in. Dembla called all-in for 900,000. The and completed the board. Singh’s ace-high kicker was good enough to win him the pot and Dembla was eliminated in ninth place.
Less than five minutes later, Kanishk Upreti jammed from the button with for 1.2 Million and Sahil Mahboobani called holding from the big blind. The board spread out and Mahboobani paired his king on the turn to rail Upreti in eighth place.
Adda52 Team pro Amit Jain, who is a prominent face in the Indian poker circuit, had jumped into the event early on Day 1A and made Day 2 with 172,500 in chips. He held the second-largest stack of 4,500,000 when the final table commenced but was eventually eliminated by Nikunj Jhunjhunwala. At the start of level 30, Jain shoved all-in for 1.5 Million from under-the-gun (UTG)+1 and Jhunjhunwala called covering him from the big blind.
The rundown brought and Jhunjhunwala’s ace-king knocked Jain out in seventh place.
Akshay Nasa has had an impressive run throughout the series. From ending Day 1 of the ₹35K Superstack as chip leader and finishing 15th for ₹1.28 Lakhs, he went to bag the largest stack of Day 1B of the Main Event and eventually reached the final table on Day 2. Sadly his run came to end in sixth place, when his ran into Jhunjhunwala’s . The community cards showed and Jhunjhunwala picked up quads on the river to rake in the pot.
After the first 10-minute break of the day concluded, Hidangmayum Somesh raised to 300,000 from the button with and Singh re-raised to 675,000 from small blind holding . Somesh re-raised to 1,075,000 and Singh called to see the flop . Somesh moved all-in and Singh called yet again. The remaining two streets brought and . Singh’s pocket kings overpowered Somesh’s hand, leading to his fifth-place exit.
The surprise package of the final table was indubitably Deepak Singh. The relatively less-known player jumped into the spotlight after winning the Go Goa tournament on Adda52 and tried his luck on Day 1A where he failed to make the cut. He did better on Day 1B, making Day 2 with a manageable stack of 41,500. Singh played exceptionally well to dominate the chip lead at the start of the final table, but as play continued he just lost his momentum and was unable to progress much further.
With four players left in the running, the race for the title intensified. Singh lost a a major chunk of his stack to Mahboobani which left him with only 27 big blinds. Soon thereafter Jhunjhunwala raised to 250,000 from under-the-gun and Singh moved all-in for 2,030,000 from big blind. Jhunjhunwala called and tabled . Singh turned over . The board fanned out and Jhunjhunwala rivered a clubs flush which effectively brought an end to Singh’s run in fourth place.
Down to three-handed play, the blinds increased to 75,000-150,000 with a big blind ante of 150,000 at the start of level 32. Vidur Singhal moved his entire stack in the middle, preflop, with from the small blind. Mahboobani, who was in big blind, called with barely covering his opponent. On the runout , Mahboobani found three-of-a-kind aces on the river, which was good enough to eliminate Singhal in third place.
Sahil Mahboobani (10,515,000) and Nikunj Jhunjhunwala (10,355,000) started the heads-up play with almost evenly matched stacks. Initially, Jhunjhunwala pulled ahead but during level 33, Mahboobani took the lead lead back from the former. The chip lead changed hands several times over the course of three levels, but ultimately the more experienced Jhunjhunwala prevailed.
On the final hand, Mahboobani moved all-in for 1.6 Million from the small blind with and Jhunjhunwala called with . The dealer flipped over . While Mahboobani rivered a pair of eights, it fell short against Jhunjhunwala’s two pairs of nines and fives. Jhunjhunwala claimed his maiden WPT title for a career-best ₹66.35 Lakhs payday!
1. Nikunj Jhunjhunwala – ₹66,35,000
2. Sahil Mahboobani – ₹46,53,000
3. Vidur Singhal – ₹30,00,000
4. Deepak Singh – ₹22,07,000
5. Hidangmayum Somesh – ₹16,83,000
6. Akshay Nasa – ₹13,41,000
7. Amit Jain – ₹11,11,000
8. Kanishk Upreti – ₹8,84,000
9. Harsh Dembla – ₹6,63,976
Content and images courtesy: onlinepokernews.in/PokerNews India
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