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At an age when poker is finally being recognized as a competitive mind sport, here is one Indian woman who has trail blazed into the Indian and International poker circuit like no other! Conferred the ’First Ladies’ award for being ‘India’s First Woman to Play Professional Poker’ by Honorable President of India, Ram Nath Kovind and after having recently joined Indian poker stalwart, Aditya Agarwal as PokerStars India ambassador, Muskan Sethi whose endeavors beyond poker stretch to financial expertise and social work, is truly an inspiration for Indian women and all those who want to pursue poker as a profession.
Sethi, who is also the Team Manager of Delhi Diehards for the inaugural season of Global Poker League (GPL) India, has big plans up her sleeves for the GPL bootcamp where she will mentor her team. Currently in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker (WSOP), she spoke to PokerGuru on her views on the upcoming GPL India qualifiers and future plans. Here are the excerpts.
From receiving the “First Ladies” award from President of India, to being the first female member of the PokerStars India Team Pro, this year has been very good for you. Views?
Being a PokerStars India ambassador is a dream come true. It has given me a platform to passionately work on achieving my goals as a sportsperson and a social worker, along with promoting poker in India. I am honoured to receive the First Ladies award from the President of India, it affirms what I have always believed, if we set our mind on something and stay determined on getting it, we will find a way to achieve it. I’ve learnt a lot from these experiences too. I believe that there are no excuses for not following your dreams, no matter what the current situation is. I have a long way to go and I’m ready to improve by studying and working even harder.
PokerStars has a global presence, do you think their Indian franchise will bring positive exposure to the country’s poker industry?
I believe PokerStars.IN will bring a positive change to the game of poker in India. Poker is gradually gaining ground and receiving the respect it deserves in our country as a mind sport, which is a big achievement. PokerStars India presents several opportunities to our community as they understand the needs of poker players who are just starting out recreationally or professionally. PokerStars India not only promotes responsible gaming, but also offers various freeroll tournaments for those who want to build a bankroll from scratch. There are free to play games every day on PokerStars.IN like Depositor Freeroll, Weekly Stars Rewards Freeroll, GPL Qualifiers (starts on June 25) which will give budding poker players a chance to prove their poker skills.
What does the role of being an ambassador for PokerStars India entail?
As a PokerStars India Ambassador, I get to live my dream of promoting poker in a country that still considers it to be a game of gambling. I am constantly trying to prove that poker evolves thorough skill acquired over time and that it is a mind game which deserves a lot of respect. I will also play an active role in promoting PokerStars India within the poker community and will contribute to the PokerStars India Poker School, which should be launched by August this year, by generating engaging video content for beginners.
You are the Team Manager for the Delhi Diehards in the Global Poker League India (GPL India). How do you plan to go about mentoring your team?
I plan to have group sessions with my team, using different strategies that would suit the given format and structure. They will also have access to my poker coaches, study material and mentorship.
My aim is to embrace each team member’s natural talent and love for the game. We must work hard. This won’t be easy but it will be worth it! Look out for Delhi Diehards qualifiers on Pokerstars.IN from 16th – 22nd July to be a part of my team and Kolkata Creators qualifiers starting June 25 – July 1 to join the team of my fellow PokerStars Ambassador Aditya Agarwal. I wish all the best to those trying to qualify. I’m looking forward to meeting them at the bootcamp.
Team selection is important. What aspects do you think are most essential to keep in mind while formulating a team?
“Together we achieve more.”
It is important for any team to have their goals and energies in sync, so they can drive each other to greatness. I will be looking for ambitious and solid poker players, who are disciplined and focused.
What are your views on the GPL India format?
I have been a fan of GPL since the beginning. Online tournaments leading up to a live showdown is a brilliant balance and combination of poker skills, teamwork and sportsmanship. In the end, it will all come down to performance. It’s a fresh format for us as well so I’m looking forward to it. May the best team win!
Do you think the GPL qualifiers will help to bring exposure to budding talent in India? How do you plan to contribute to that?
I think the GPL India qualifiers will be a good opportunity for poker players across India to showcase their talent, enjoy the game as a sport and give themselves a chance to win a PokerStars Platinum Pass worth $30,000 which includes entry and covers expenses to the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (at least $8 Million guranteed prize pool and $1 Million added for the first place). Players will get support and guidance from Team PokerStars Pro, to get them ready for Bahamas to represent India at the PSPC 2019. It will be a life changing event for the team who wins the GPL.
Your poker exploits are an inspiration to many women interested in the game. What message would you give to them?
If you are curious or interested in the game, then get involved but don’t worry so much about results. Start slowly, but stay steady, study more than you play and you’ll see yourself improving as a poker player and a decision maker – poker skills can be applied to life as well!
If there are other factors or responsibilities that are preventing you from going ahead, please remember, if I can do it, so can you. Let your curiosity and dreams guide you through this journey. I believe when you follow your dreams, or make positive changes, you will unintentionally motivate the women around you to do the same.
Any parting words or anything you would want to add?
I wish all the best to the qualifiers and I hope that they qualify for their favourite team and I’ll see them at the boot camp on September 8. I’m also looking forward to joining Team India and getting an opportunity to meet the other Team PokerStars Pros in Vegas for WSOP.
Thank You, Muskan for talking to us and good luck for GPL India & WSOP!