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Chennai-based Aditya Sushant‘s (cover image) numerous attempts to give up poker after he stumbled upon it in 2008 were fruitless. It all changed for Sushant when he took a bus to play live tournaments in Goa. On that epic trip to Goa in 2010, Sushant met PokerGuru mentor Aditya Agarwal, and there has been no looking back for him since then. In the 25k IPC tournament the next day, Sushant bagged at that time the largest cash prize of ₹6.26 lakh beating a field of 87 players and went on to become the first PokerGuru pro. Here’s his story.
I think it was around 2008 when I first found out about poker. I really had no idea back then and accidentally came across it when I was googling to find some good strategy games to play. Lo and behold, I somehow managed to stumble upon texas hold’em. I started by reading the Wikipedia article and I was hooked before I even knew it. Little by little, I spent more time reading up on hold’em and poker in general. I was in awe of everything – how could somebody win millions of dollars just by playing poker, how could people playing poker be celebrities? Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen…these were few of the names I first became acquainted with. Armed with my basic knowledge, I browsed Youtube hoping to find out whatever I could. I found High Stakes Poker and a bunch of WSOP videos. Everything seemed so cool – guys sitting and throwing around chips and bricks of cash all the time while managing to look super cool despite being up or down thousands of dollars. These guys never gave anything away. I was sold, and without any cheap suit wearing nagging salesman doing the deed.
Obviously, it was then inevitable that I found out about poker sites. It was like a dream come true. I got hooked to FTP most of all. PKR was my 2nd choice just cause of the cool graphics and the fact that I’d managed to build up a huge play money roll :P. I never really liked Stars at the time and until much later avoided playing there. FTP was where I would spend a lot of my free time “honing” my skills while playing at the play money tables. I can still vividly recall the oh so fun swings I used to have on FTP trying to work my way up all the way to the ‘King of the Hill’ table which had stakes of 500k/1M. That was the ultimate goal for any serious play money player there 😀
Playing for Real Money
At some point, I noticed many people playing for real money. I thought I was ready to take my chances. I started googling again and came across a couple of sites which were offering a free bankroll of $50 on certain sites. I remember what a pain it was back then to try get the bankroll cause I had to do so many verifications and stuff. I was pretty serious though. I felt like a boss playing 12 tables of ultra micro stakes with that roll and slowly grinding it up. I lost the $50 on FTP after having some swings. I can’t recall the details clearly but I must have taken a couple of shots and gone busto. I was shattered. I didn’t wanna go back to play money again. There was no comparing the two anymore. Even to my inexperienced mind, I realized what a waste of time it was to be playing play money. So after doing this and that, then came that fateful night…
It was late. Well after bed time. My parents were fast asleep. I had my dad’s credit card with me(can’t remember why though). That was when it struck me that I could use it to deposit on FTP. I didn’t realize at the time how wrong it was. I just innocently promised to myself that I would tell him about it first thing in the morning when he wakes up. I had made some $ from online games I used to play and I knew I could pay him back even if I lost although at the time, losing was the last thing on my mind. I deposited through CR cause I’d figured out about rakeback by then and I went straight for the maximus – $600. Things started slow and smooth – I was down a bit. Cue – the usual degen story line. I started getting frustrated and moved up a bit. I fired up some mid stakes tournies too. Boom, I was down to about $400-450. I then thought it would be wise to play some heads up plo (I know big LOL). I sat down at I think 0.5/1 deep or 1/2. I ran it up to over 900 after going on a big heater. Along comes the downswing and now I’m down to 350ish or something. It was morning by then and this was when my parents woke up. My dad found out about it a bit later cause I couldn’t bring myself up to tell him what had gone down. You have to understand I’m from a pretty religious, relatively conservative, relatively traditional South Indian family. So I had been well grounded in values and morals and such. All of a sudden, what I had done struck me as wrong and the impact of the money I was playing for and how much I had lost came crashing on me. My parents by then knew I was playing “poker” cause they had seen me playing online. They didn’t know the details and such but they knew cause I would spend a lot of my free time playing. Finally, a little later in the morning, my dad gets a call from his bank and he learns about it. When they finally confronted me, I just broke down. I was babbling incoherently and pleading for their forgiveness. Being the nice parents that they are, they let me off lightly, understanding how bad I felt. I immediately withdrew what I had left and paid my dad off the remainder. My real money hopes lay dashed down the faacking drain.
Initial Tryst with PokerStars
Life got back to normal for a bit. I then realized I could get $50 on Stars from a different site. I went about doing that and then I was the happiest guy in the world all over again. I still hadn’t learnt my ways though and I had even crazier swings this time right from the beginning. Fortunately, I managed to not go bust and always managed to win right when I needed to. Over a matter of 10-20 days I managed to “grind” it up to around $1,000 playing way over my league HU SnGs for the most part. I thought I was gonna be the next big thing. Finally, on the day of doom, it started off slowly. I lost some, then I decided to fire up a $300 hu SnG I think. Obviously lost as you might have guessed. I then took my entire roll of $600 I think and sat down at a 5/10 NL table. Very quickly a hand came up where I had AQ and there had been a 3b I think and it was 3 way to the flop. Flop came A-x-x and I found myself all in and the opponent had AJ. Fate decided to rear its ugly face and the inevitable J came on the river to leave me shattered and busto yet again.
Discovering Live Poker
Fast forward to college – I’d pretty much given up on playing real poker. Back then, I still had no clue about the live scene in India and had never really given it a thought. Call it luck or fate, I found out about a guy on Facebook who was trying to gather people to play live in Chennai. The bells started ringing again and I felt like I was being given a reprieve yet again. That was how my live poker experience started. Slowly, I managed to get in touch with more and more people in the city. The scene expanded, the place changed. I went about it really seriously. I would often cut college to go play cause I was making what felt like a lot of money to me at the time. I started keeping proper records of my wins and losses and my br kept building up. Finally in June, 2010 I think, I found out about Goa, IPS and IPC. I wanted to go try my luck so I went with most of my br at the time(about 40k or so). Travelling by bus seemed the only way to go cause the train runs only on Fridays I’d read and air travel wasn’t even a consideration. I played the 5k, 10k and some cash and yep in a matter of 2 days, I was nearly busto again. Upon reaching back home, I went about rebuilding my roll. Things went smoothly again and I was winning consistently at home.
By November, I’d built up a roll of 1 L. Things were looking up. A couple of friends of mine decided to go to Goa to play some cash and asked me if I wanted to join them. How could I not go? I took about 80k to play with. Let me start by saying the trip was truly epic. All kinds of stuff and more happened than I could imagine at the time. Huge swings for all of us, epic confrontations, a couple of stories, staying at the Taj village and having problems paying at the end of the trip cause of card problems all the way to all 3 of us being entirely cash broke on the day of departure and sitting at the blackjack tables upstairs just trying to pass time till we had to leave for the airport with what change we had left cause we’d had to check out already and had nowhere to go. It would take me forever to go into all the details so I’ll just stick to a short summary of what happened with me. I set a daily stop loss for myself so I could make sure to last the entirety of the trip. By day 3, I was in recovery mode and I chucked my stop loss system out the window. Finally after winning a few pots, I was back up to 70k, nearly break even for the trip only to go busto after an ill timed river bluff shove a few pots later against a high stakes reg.
Rinse and repeat. 1 month later, the IPC was about to take place. I told myself and my parents I would be taking 1 final shot. Armed with only 30k this time, I went yet again with high expectations to that city of lure. I played the 5k and reached my 1st final table in the 10k. I was 1st to go out though so that was heart breaking. I’d been playing some cash on the side too and had made some money playing really tight. Next day was the 25k and I had about 40k to play with. After busting out of the 10k, a friend of mine invited me to Gulati’s where he and a bunch of others were staying. I reached there early in the morning. I didn’t know it but my poker journey was about to truly take off there. I got introduced to Aditya Agarwal or intervention as many of you know him. We got to talking over breakfast, mostly poker as expected. I didn’t know about Adi before then and I was happily awestruck when I found out who he was and got an idea of what he’d accomplished. He told me about PokerGuru and what he was trying to do with it. At some point, while talking, I decided to try and convince Adi to buy some of my action for the main as I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put up the whole 25k for it. When Adi heard me out, he immediately agreed to buy some. Later, Sanjay Lawrence who was also staying there heard about it from Adi and also wanted to take some of my action. So I sold him some too. Going into the 25k, I was really relaxed and feeling confident about my game too. I really felt like I was gonna win. I remember I was the shortest stack heading into the final table. I could do no wrong from then on though. I must have taken down nearly 70% of the pots at the final table. I knew I had to be super aggressive right from the beginning. Finally at around 8 in the morning, I won it all, beating the largest field and taking down the largest prize money at the time of 6 L and change! I was in shock. One of my stories finally seemed to have had a happy ending, a fairy tale ending. PARTY TIME!!
Joining Team PokerGuru and Present Situation
Before I left the next day, Adi discussed the possibility of me being staked under him for MTTs and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic. I instantly agreed. I would finally be able to pursue playing online as a result and do it the right way this time! I ended up becoming the 1st PokerGuru pro under Adi well before Adi started expanding and the crew slowly started joining. I went through a bit of a dry patch at the beginning until I managed to bink a solid tourney on FTP which bailed me out. From then on, sailing has been mostly smooth for me. I haven’t managed as big a live accomplishment since then although I do have my share of cashes. I’ve done fairly well online and my biggest win to date has been winning the Big 55 on Stars.
In Dec, 2011, I made the decision to quit being staked by Adi after playing for a year under him. I thought I had what felt like a good bankroll to work with online which turned out to be wrong later. I had taken a fancy to hyper SnGs and wanted to grind them primarily with the goal of hitting supernova and maybe supernova elite in the future. The variance is brutal in those games though and I ended up having really sick swings. After a lot of ups and downs, I blew my online roll, taking shots and playing mid-high stakes 6m hyper satellite SnGs. I’ve been busto online since then for the most part and not playing much due to lack of motivation, interest, etc. Until a couple of days ago ie, when I managed to finish an agonizing 14th in the Sun Million. However, I’ve taken quite a few positives from this and hopefully will be able to move forward without having to ever look back. I intend to not degen anymore online and follow a BRM guideline as far as possible. I’ve started focusing on fitness a lot more now as well and hopefully I’ll be able to combine the 2 and lead a happy, perfect life!