8 mins Read
25-year-old Nishant Sharma (cover image) is our latest PokerGuru Young Gun, and like many, began his tryst with poker through Zynga poker on Facebook. Sharma hails from Mumbai and used to play a lot on Zynga to a point where he was selling virtual chips online.
Sharma has gained quite a reputation online and recently won the PokerBaazi Premier League Season VI Main Event for ₹11.95 Lakhs proving that all it really takes is steadfast determination and the grit of never settling for anything ordinary to make a mark.
Sharma holds an event planning degree and even worked in that industry for three years before quitting completely to play poker full-time. His strength lies in his brother who according to Sharma has been really supportive of him taking up poker as a career and even helped in convincing their orthodox Marwari family to allow Sharma to pursue poker as a career.
Sharma is just off from a couple of notable cashes in the APT Macau 2017. He made it to the final table of the Warm-up event and finished ninth for HK$20,800 (~INR 1.72 Lakhs). He went on to make it in the money in the Main Event too, finishing 18th for HK$37,700 (~INR 3.12 Lakhs).
Here, we present a question-answer session with Sharma who talks about his poker journey, grind schedule, mentors from Euphoria poker, WSOP aspirations & more.
I am 25-years-old, was born and brought up in Mumbai. After pursing my B.Com I pursued my post-graduation in Event management and was involved in it for three years.
How and when did you come across the sport of poker? Please take us through the journey.
So, a few years back my friends used to play on Zynga poker so they introduced me to it. I used to play a lot on Zynga to a limit where I used to buy and sell chips. I was a winning player since that time only so I used to sell the chips I won for money. Like that is how I used to make my pocket money during college days. Then we sometimes used to play home games at one of my friend’s house.
When I was doing events planning and all I wasn’t really feeling content. Planning and managing events used to take a toll on my health and a lot of other things so I thought I should get back to playing poker; so, initially I won a freeroll on Khelo365 then I made around ₹10,000 or something. Then I started playing at Star Poker, grinding from freerolls and then started grinding with it and took my bankroll to around ₹10 lakhs (though it took months). When I made that much bankroll I realized I should play this as full time and more seriously. So, I quit the events and started playing poker full time.
How was your experience playing PokerBaazi Premier League?
PPL was a great experience and I always prefer the deep structure games and they had exactly that. I would say it was the best structure in India, the Main Event and the High Roller event were up till now the best structured event I have ever played. PokerBaazi decided the black theme this time so even after 12 hours of grind it did not strain eyes so that was also cool. The structure was superb on top so it was overall a great experience. I initially planned to play the full schedule but because I was travelling I could not manage to play more than ten events.
Please tell us about the Main Event. Any key hands or takeaways?
My table was pretty intended at one point, I had Abhishek Rathod on my left, then Samay Parikh followed by Kanishka Samant. Siddharth Singhvi and another player followed with Raghav Bansal too on the table. So I had a very sick table for like 1 and a 1/2 hours and that was during the crucial period of the tournament when only four tables were left.
I remember one hand when Samay Parikh was opening a lot of hands, I 3-bet him from the button with King Jack suited and Samay Parikh shoved for 12 big blinds. I had to call because I had invested a lot in the hand and just had five big blinds behind. He showed Ace King and luckily, we chopped that hand. After that, I never looked back and I don’t think a situation came where I was really stuck.
So to go out of that sick table with a good stack was the most amazing thing because the table was full of pros who I look up to. So it was a great moment. I went with the third biggest stack on the final table with like 40 big blinds or something and knew that I got this.
How much do you play & which variant of the game do you prefer playing?
Normally I grind like 6 to 8 hours a day and I devote two hours for the study of the game religiously. I normally take two days off in the week that is Tuesday and Friday. It’s best to take a break on Friday because it gets you prepared for the big grind coming up on Saturday and Sunday.
So, I plan like that. Because I am primarily an MTT player, I have to play for longer durations.
I do play cash, but you can say that I’m a Recreational player in that.
What’s your grinding schedule like?
So, when I’m playing on Indian websites on weekdays I start around 8pm till 3am or till whenever the action goes. On PokerStars I normally start from 5pm till night. Even while grinding on Indian sites, I keep 1-2 tables of PokerStars open.
Currently I play 6-8 tables at once. I’m very comfortable with six tables but I am trying to add more tables. Normally I grind 6-7 tables and try to add one more. I have a good set up at home and it helps to play long sessions comfortably.
What’s your family’s understanding for the game?
Initially when I told my family about me trying to pursue poker professionally they were quite hesitant about it. I am Marwari so we are very orthodox that way. It was very difficult initially but then I told them that I would prove it that it’s not a game of gambling or luck and skill plays a very important part in it.
I told them that I would explain it to my brother who is very supportive. When my brother gave me the go-ahead, my Dad was fine with it too. So, my brother used to watch me play tournaments for a month and I used to tell him the hand what the other player might hold and in many cases, it seemed to be true so my brother understood that your skill plays an important part in it. At that time, I even came second in a very big event and my brother was watching me play. From then they understood what I meant and I started playing poker professionally. So now they are comfortable with me pursuing this as my career and they are even supporting me now.
Where and how often do you travel for poker?
So I normally travel like twice or thrice in a quarter mainly to play live tournaments or sometimes for live cash games too in Bangalore or Ahmedabad or somewhere and obviously to Goa but I am planning to go abroad also. Maybe someday soon you will see me playing in Macau or Manila.
Please share your APT Macau experience? You made several notable finishes in your very first international series. Please share some key takeaways from the series.
It was the first international poker series I attended so it was bound to be a good one but 2 final tables and a few deep runs were just icing on the cake.
I really enjoyed playing in Macau. I have to say that the structure was amazing. Main event had 1 hour blind levels and I feel that domestic tournaments should start following such structures too.
And at last big shout out to Zarvan Tumboli, Manoj Pentakota and Shravan Chhabria for their impressive run and special thanks to Shravan who guided me throughout the event ðŸ˜Š.
What other live events are you planning to attend later this year?
I plan to attend Macau Millionaire, Macau Poker Cup and WSOP Europe this year.
How do you go about improving your game?
I am under the Euphoria poker stable that invests in poker talent from all around the country and Danish Shaikh and Kanishka Samant are my coaches and are always there to help me. When they spot any leaks or I have any doubts they are always there to help me out. I don’t have to do anything but just listen to them. So if I face any trouble in any particular hand then I just let them know and they tell me the best possible thing that could have been done at that moment. I have been with them for almost a year now and seems like they have fixed lot of my leaks.
Any tips you want to share for upcoming poker enthusiasts and people who wish to travel for poker?
What I would like to say is if you are just starting now don’t travel that much because it really takes a toll on your bankroll. There is always the TDS issue that pulls down the ROI. I will suggest better you grind online for a while and build a bankroll so that you can afford to travel to all the poker tournaments. Playing online, you can play on many tables at the same point and cover the variance.
Who are the players you look up to?
Danish Shaikh, Kanishka Samant, Aditya ‘intervention’ Agarwal and Raghav Bansal.
What are your plans for future? Any set goals?
I’m looking forward to attending all these prestigious tournaments abroad and try to win a trophy and then obviously the ultimate goal will be going for the World Series of Poker. I think next year I will be much more prepared for the last Vegas so I will plan something then.
Any parting words or anything you would like to add?
Work until your idols become your rivals.