6 Mins Read
Goa maybe the birthplace of poker in India, but the Garden City of Bengaluru is a cradle of emerging talent. And leading the charge for this unrestrained poker expertise is the Global Poker League (GPL) India Bengaluru Hackers Team Manager Vidwath Shetty (cover image).
A well-renowned name in the Indian poker community, Shetty’s journey into the world of poker began in 2009. What started as a recreational activity turned into a profession. After years of enormous hard work and intense practice, Shetty honed his skills to the point of near perfection! Less than a decade later, this poker savant is one of the most established figures in the industry with six titles under his belt, including an international win!
One of the more active players in both the domestic and international circuits, he achieved his first title win in 2015. Shetty has grown leaps and bounds as a player since then and has added more than 20 cashes to his name leading to total live earnings of $125,592 (â‚¹87.78 Lakhs). He went on to win his maiden international title in Event #18: â‚«4,000,000 + 400,000 No Limit Hold’em – Turbo 3 at the Asia Poker League (APL) – Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, earlier this year.
Donning the cap of Team Manager for the Bengaluru Hackers, this pro’s extensive experience and knowledge of the game will be put to good use. When talking about his strategies and plans for his team, Shetty’s sharp intellect and intrinsic understanding of the mind sport is clearly witnessed. No wonder the Bangalore-based team is one of the favourites to win!
In an exclusive interview with PokerGuru, Shetty talks to us about his introduction to poker, the evolution of the Indian poker scene especially the development of Bengaluru as a poker hotspot and his plans for selecting and managing his GPL team.
Hello Vidwath and thank you for speaking with PokerGuru. You have become a very prominent feature in the Indian poker circuit. How and when were you introduced to poker?
I started playing poker with â‚¹500 buy-in cash games at a friend’s house back in 2009. I played on and off mostly during weekends for the next few years, however, I really began taking the game seriously 5 years ago and played an extensive amount of live cash games in Bangalore as well as Goa. The switch to tournaments happened 3 years ago along with the online scene taking off like it did, and several live tournaments being held in Goa throughout the year.
What has your poker journey been like?
I would describe my journey has hard but rewarding and a lot of fun. Every poker player has their ups and downs before hitting their stride and I have had my fair share. Constantly thinking, discussing, working on your game and playing relentlessly of course has been crucial in making me into a better poker player.
You recently won your first international title in Event#18: â‚«4,000,000 + 400,000 No Limit Hold’em – Turbo 3 at the Asia Poker League (APL) – Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. How was the feeling?
It is always an incredible feeling winning that 1st place in a poker tournament. I had quite a few deeps runs as well as a 6th place finish in an event earlier in the series. This win was especially sweet since it was literally the last event at APL Vietnam which means it was my last chance at that elusive trophy for at least a few more months.
Tell us about your journey to the final table? Do you remember any interesting hands that you played?
I ran well and played quite solid. Heads up began with even stacks and I managed to chip him down to half his stack before making the final call with mid pair against his two over cards on the flop and we held.
India offers a huge market to the poker industry which is still largely untapped due to legalization constraints. What are your views on the evolution of the Indian poker scene?
The game has taken off in a huge way over the last few years which can be seen with the numbers that some of these online tournaments generate nowadays. Also, the performance by the Indian Contingent at the WSOP earlier this year and most recently APPT Manila shows an extremely positive uptrend in the Indian Poker scene. Things are only going to get better.
Your home city of Bengaluru is also a hotbed for upcoming poker talent and is the epicentre of live poker tournaments. How has the popularity of poker grown in the Garden City over the years?
Bangalore has always been home to a massive gaming crowd (DOTA, Counter Strike, Fortnite, PUBG etc) as well as sportsmen both indoor and outdoor. Poker like chess is a mind game that appeals to everyone with that competitive spirit and energy. Not only youngsters, but several businessmen, start-up owners and such take a huge liking to the game and some of them actually display real talent in the arena. Bangalore continues to thrive as a city for new poker talent.
You have been selected as the Team Manager for Bengaluru Hackers at the inaugural season of Global Poker League India (GPL India). Can you share some of your thoughts and strategies on how you plan to mentor your team?
With the pros we already have a good idea as to how we want to move forward. The qualifiers will be approached from a requirement point of view, as to try figuring out what they need to work on and help them accordingly in those aspects.
You will be engaging with the online qualifiers in the upcoming Bootcamp to select your team. What are the parameters that you will be considering while making the team selection?
I will mostly consider my assessment of the player’s fundamentals of the game, their thought processes of approaching different scenarios, the ability to maintain composure at the table and of course overall performance.
Bengaluru is bursting with rising poker players and your team is being touted to be one of the favourites to win. Can you give us any hints on who your wild card entries are going to be?
Not sure if I can reveal this information right now, y’all will know the answer to this on the 9th of September which is the GPL draft day.
Post GPL, do you plan to participate in any upcoming tournaments or series?
I hope to win the GPL and use that PSPC Platinum Pass to travel to the Bahamas. I will mostly be travelling to Goa for the WPT after GPL, also will try to squeeze in WPT Vietnam in between GPL if I get the time.
Any parting words or anything you would want to add?
Good luck to all the other teams. Super excited to get the league started.
And with that Shetty signs off!