3 Minutes Read
Adda52 pro Kunal Patni (cover image) is a man who can’t stop smiling these days and for all the right reasons. This 38-year old Mumbai based former banker epitomizes the recreational poker player turned pro dream, if followed diligently.
Just last week, Patni walked away with the biggest score of his poker career till date when he finished runners-up in the WPTDeepStacks Berlin for an impressive $115,368 (~₹73,21,310).
Patni made quite an entry into the poker scene, having won a Spadie at his very first international outing at the ACOP Macau 2014 NLH Rebuy Championship. Patni also attracted the attention of industry giants, such as Adda52, which signed him up as their Team Pro. Today, Patni travels around the globe sporting the Adda52 badge promoting both the game and the largest online poker site in the country.
Patni’s journey in the recent times, however, wasn’t that smooth as he didn’t have the best time at the felts for the last one and a half years. As any poker player will tell you, the only thing more frustrating for a player hunting an elusive major title is busting a big event with one of the best starting hands in poker. That was Patni and his relationship with pocket king’s at least before this year. It looks like Patni has outlasted the curse and the work that he has put into his game is now bearing fruit.
We spoke to Patni after he returned to India from his debut trip to Berlin and here we reproduce the conversation. Here are the excerpts:
Hello Kunal, thanks for speaking with PokerGuru and congratulations on the epic start to 2018! How does it feel to have an incredible bunch of scores right at the start of the year? Good signs for the remaining year for sure right?
Always feels great to start the year with a bang, so this has been pending from some time and happy that it started on a good note in 2018. Looking forward to a great 2018.
Good signs, yea, and I have to give this to my good friend Rajeev Kanjani. During WPT India in November, he has seen how in the last one and a half year, I have been getting close, getting bad beats, king’s obviously, everyone knows my story of king’s getting busted and so on. He asked me about my plans and I told him next I am going to APT Finale in December and then WPT Berlin in January. He said, “I don’t think Macau will be that great for you but from January, when you go to WPT Berlin, I think time is going to change for you.”
So, his prediction, in a way has come true.
Can you please summarize your 2017 in terms of poker?
2017 was an OK year. I can’t say whether it was a good year or it was a bad year. I came close so many times, made final tables like ninth place finishes in WSOP Crazy 8 event or APT event which Varun Gupta ended up shipping. I had the privilege of getting signed as a captain for the Poker Sports League’s Hyderabad Kings. We worked really hard but unfortunately me and the top players of the team couldn’t get things going and we didn’t perform well that way. Overall, it was an OK year.
I started to question whether it was a good decision to give up a good banking job to take up poker and I was obviously eating into my bankroll, and wasn’t sure about things. 2018 of course has been fantastic and has given me a big confidence boost. Also, this has helped me with the bankroll so I can do certain things going ahead.
What were your expectations from the series and yourself when you took off for Berlin?
It was a short series, we only had about 3-4 events, we had the WPT Berlin $1,500 Main Event, Poker Floor Cup and a couple of small events like the knockout event. So, it wasn’t really a big series, it didn’t have 10-12 tournaments. The moment I was going, I knew it’s not going to be a series where you play and have options to do well in 10-12 events. In a small way, the pressure was there to start off good so the pressure during the whole series comes down.
In terms of expectations, I love playing WPT events as the structures are pretty good, they don’t miss out on any important blind levels, it’s usually deep 40-minute to one-hour levels. I was obviously looking forward to being in Berlin, it was my debut trip to Berlin and happy that things panned out the way last week. It has been good last ten days for me.
Please share the overall experience at WPT Berlin.
I have attended a lot of WPT’s over the last year, since the tie up of Adda52 with WPT, started off with WPT Nottingham. Post that I have attended WPT Prague, WPT Sanya, WPT Netherlands, WPT Aria where I had a great run in Las Vegas. Over doing so many series, I made a lot of good friends with the WPT staff, they are really-really helpful and great people to hang around with. They are always happy to see me back because not too many people actually end up travelling to Europe from Asia, so even the local players get surprised to know that I have travelled all the way from India to play the tournament.
The WPT staff always takes special care of us and makes us feel like a celebrity over there so that’s very good. Due to the deep structures, it’s the perfect event to play good solid poker and even if you become short, you can still take time and cover instead of shoving to get a quick double up.
Pocket King’s finally made you won some and at the time when you needed to the most we suppose. Thoughts?
Pocket King’s (chuckles), yea, it’s been like a joke over the last year and a half with me and my pocket kings getting busted. So many times, I have gone out of tournaments with pocket kings. Fortunately for me, during this series pocket kings were decent to me. I got it 2-3 times and I don’t think I lost a major pot with it. So, yea, can’t complain about it.
What were the key takeaways from the series and your run?
See my poker career started with a bang in 2014, early 2015 and I had a pretty decent run that year. 2016 wasn’t that great of a year and 2017 was somewhere in between. Over the last one and a half year, I kind of changed my game a bit, I became a little more on the aggressive side, started taking a lot of spots and started playing loose. Somewhere I thought that hasn’t really helped my game much and over the last 3-4 months, it has been my conscient efforts to try and go back to what has worked in my past.
I have been more of a tight aggressive player and even right now I tried to go back to my tight game and that I think worked for me. If you see, in the last few posts I have used the #TightIsTight on my social media posts. I am not saying I will not take my spots, not play a loose aggressive game in certain spots and so on, but I have just gone back to what has worked for me.
I didn’t try and do much experiment and like I said, the structures give you a lot of scope to play a good game of poker. So, the key takeaway is to stick to the basics, play your game right and start early on the table so that you get enough reads on your opponents; specially if you are playing for long hours.
How do you work on your game? How will you approach honing your skills going ahead?
I have been working really hard on my game in the past five-six months, I joined Doug Polk’s Upswing Poker and I spend a lot of time on their video content and their articles. I made a lot of notes from that content. I have spent a lot of time working on my MTT game. So, usually what I do is, before any big series, I spend some time going through my notes and refreshing my memory and that helps.
I even signed up for Fedor Holz’s Primed Mind. That has helped specially before a big tournament or after you have made it to day two, three of some event. Listening that for 10 minutes before going for the game, that has been quite helpful.
I am always open to discussing the game, whether it’s a hand on IPPA or when I bust out of an event, I discuss the hands with a few people who I have a lot of respect for. That is a part of any decent poker player’s journey and it will continue to be so for me.
Do you plan to take any mindset coaching from experts like Elliot Roe?
I haven’t really done it till now but it has worked really well with a lot of players I know, for example one of my favorite players Raghav Bansal, he is a big Elliot Roe fan and he is the one who told me that he did a few sessions with him and highly recommended it. That is something, which I have not done directly till now but I will probably be looking to do some mindset coaching with Elliot going ahead this year.
What are the plans for this year? Any set goals? WSOP?
Basically, I will be attending MPC, it’s the biggest tournament in Asia and of great value so I will be doing MPC. After that we have the first DPT of the year in February, after that I haven’t really planned that much but I will definitely be going for WSOP in June. I will be there for 20-22 odd days as full schedule becomes a lot tiring and a lot expensive on the budget side. For the rest of the year, the plans are open as of now.
Any parting words?
To any guy who is looking to take up poker as a full-time career, keep working hard, specially tournaments as they come with a lot of variance. You need to grind it out and as long as you keep working hard and improve on your game, things will come into place. It might take longer than what you expected but if you’re doing the right things, it will all fall into place.
Patni signs off!