14 Minutes Read
The 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) proved a fantastic comeback edition for poker’s most extensive tournament series. The pandemic did affect numbers, but the series turned out to be the third-biggest ever in WSOP history!
For Team India, the 2021 WSOP brought on many firsts, some shockingly close misses, and many standout scores. Most significantly, it was the first time we didn’t see an Indian winning a gold bracelet in four years. Considering that many Indian players skipped the mega-series due to travel restrictions in the US (Indians had to spend 14 days in a green zone before entering the US), Team India ran rather well, collecting 40 cashes and as many as four FT finishes!
Quick Recap: Team India’s Achievements at the 2021 WSOP
Making a delayed run in the fall – the first time in its 51-year history due to the global pandemic, the 2021 WSOP witnessed many memorable moments. From Phil Hellmuth winning his career-16th bracelet to Josh Arieh nabbing two bracelets and the ‘Player of the Year’ title – a lot happened in the last two months.
Team India had a lot to write home about and at the top of the list of things to share was poker veteran Aditya Agarwal and Young Gun Neel Joshi’s bracelet sweats in separate Super Turbo events!
In the wee hours of the morning on November 17, Agarwal had us all on the edge of our seats as he went for gold in Event #76: $10K Super Turbo Bounty. Despite starting the final table and subsequently the heads-up play as chip leader, Agarwal was again struck by the heads-up curse that’s been daunting him for long. He lost the heads-up to Winamax Team Pro Romain Lewis. Having come the closest to the bracelet in the 16 years he`s been attending the WSOP, finishing runner-up was a crushing disappointment for Agarwal. Still, he banked a personal-best $286,705 (~₹2.13 Crores), also topping the list of Team India`s cashes at the series.
Following, more or less, the same pattern as Agarwal, Neel Joshi found himself competing for the gold in Event #86: $1,000 Super Turbo NLHE. He, too, missed out on the top spot by a whisker, finishing third for $72,031 (~₹53.58 Lakhs).
India`s first solo bracelet winner Abhinav Iyer was hands down the most consistent player from the team this year and posted seven cashes. The most prominent of them was his deep run in the WSOP Main Event. Iyer placed 60th for $113,000 (~₹84.64 Lakhs), becoming the fifth Indian to crack the top 100 in arguably the most prestigious poker tournament in the world!
Vikranth Anga and Vidur Sethi were two other Indian players who posted FT finishes.
While these scores undoubtedly stood out from the rest, there were several other notable finishes by our Indian challengers, namely, Kalyan Chakravarthy, Yudhishter Jaswal, Shashank Jain, two-time bracelet champion, Las Vegas-based Nipun Java, PokerGuru Ambassador Kartik Ved, Abhishek Goindi, Raghav Bansal, Ankit Ahuja, Kunal Punjwani, and Madhav Gupta. Not to forget, the three poker divas, Nikita Luther, Muskan Sethi, and Shuchi Chamaria.
Like we said, there were many standout moments. Kunal Patni was seen in the thick of the action in Event #79: $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame Bounty NLHE. Even though Patni busted on the opening day, he took out the WSOP Master of Ceremonies Vince Vaughn to collect a $10K bounty!!
WSOP Memories: Competition & Fun
MPL Poker brand ambassador Dhaval Mudgal was the only Indian making it to the final day in Event #61: $600 Deepstack Championship NLHE and eventually placed 30th for $7,120 (~₹5.30 Lakhs). Mudgal reminisced his run in the tourney – “Had a pretty swingy Day 1 on an easy table and then got moved to a toughish table post-dinner and just smashed the deck! Coolered Pete Chen for heaps KK vs. QQ and had a massive stack that I got to abuse on the bubble, bagging 3rd in chips for Day 2. Day 2 was smooth sailing for the most part just kept building a stack and had top 3 stacks for most of the day. But a couple of wrong ends of coolers in the last two levels, and I ended up bagging short for day 3 and then busting 30th on day 3. As always, grateful for the opportunity and experience.”
So how did our Desi pros find the experience of playing at the WSOP this year? Mudgal shared how exciting it was to play live poker again, and Las Vegas during fall was significantly more pleasant compared to the scorching summer. “The weather was amazing, allowing us to walk to places, plus we ended up playing some pickleball, etc. We had a pool that we planned to use, but it was too cold for the pool,” Mudgal said.
Talking about the atmosphere during the events, Mudgal said, “I was also pleasantly surprised by the overall pace of play from players. Wearing masks while playing took some getting used to.”
Spartan Poker Team Pro Nikita Luther was ecstatic to be back in the live poker scene, especially since she prefers live tournaments over online poker. She observed that the fields were relatively much softer at the WSOP this time, and the weather was perfect. “The fields were much softer this time. I felt there were a lot less international regs because of the travel restrictions, and there was a bit of a problem with a shortage of dealers. But it was really fun to play. Unfortunately, I had only one deep run, but I’ll definitely be back stronger next year. It was a very good experience.”
The Tag Team event is always special for Luther, who won it in 2018 with Guiseppe Pantaleo. Always one of the most lively events at the WSOP, the Tag Team was held on Halloween this year and was a sight to watch! “A lot of people dressed up in costumes and played with their partners, so it was really a lot of fun. I was so excited to have another run I really thought we could go back-to-back to the final table. That would have been epic, but unfortunately, we only made the final two tables.”
Re-energized with the vibe of the annual WSOP, Luther is now looking forward to some live tournaments back home and is already planning for the next WSOP.
We had to skip many exciting moments for the lack of space, but with the 2021 WSOP behind us, we can safely say, even without a bracelet win Team India certainly did not disappoint!
WSOP 2021 Team India Report Card
|Player||Event||Finish||Prize Amount (USD - INR)|
|Aditya Agarwal||Event #76: $10K Super Turbo Bounty||2nd||$286705-₹2.13 Crores|
|Abhinav Iyer||Event #67: $10K Main Event World Championship||60th||$113,800-₹84.64 Lakhs|
|Vikranth Anga||Event #64: $5,000 Mixed NLHE/PLO||8th||$53,824-₹40.07 Lakhs|
|Abhinav Iyer||Event #56: $10,000 6-Handed NLHE Championship||12th||$41,481 - ₹31.09 Lakhs|
|Kalyan Chakravarthy||Event #67: $10K Main Event World Championship||367th||$30,000-₹22.30 Lakhs|
|Yudhishter Jaswal||Event #67: $10K Main Event World Championship||567th||$21,600-₹16.05 Lakhs|
|Vidur Sethi||Event #67: $10K Main Event World Championship||632nd||$20,000-₹14.86 Lakhs|
|Vidur Sethi||Event #64: $5,000 Mixed NLHE/PLO||24th||$17,923-₹13.34 Lakhs|
|Shashank Jain||Event #67: $10K Main Event World Championship||862nd||$15,000-₹11.51 Lakhs|
|Dhaval Mudgal||Event #61: $600 Deepstack Championship NLHE||30th||$7,120-₹5.30 Lakhs|
|Abhishek Goindi||Event #55: $400 Colossus||47th||$6,120 - ₹4.57 Lakhs|
|Kartik Ved||77th in Event #65: $1,00 Mini Main Event||77th||$5,305-₹3.93 Lakhs|
|Neel Joshi||Event #51: $3,000 6-Handed NLHE||141st||$4,814 - ₹3.60 Lakhs|
|Nikita Luther - Kunal Patni||Event #59: $1K Tag Team||15th||$4,576 - ₹3.42 Lakhs|
|Shuchi Chamaria||Event #61: $600 Deepstack Championship NLHE||57th||$4,184 - ₹3.11 Lakhs|
|Nipun Java||Event #61: $600 Deepstack Championship NLHE||92nd||$2,301 - ₹1.71 Lakhs|
|Kunal Punjwani||Event #70: CRAZY EIGHTS NLHE 8-Handed||68th||$2,209-₹1.65 Lakhs|
|Nipun Java||Event #70: CRAZY EIGHTS NLHE 8-Handed||152nd||$1,938-₹1.44 Lakhs|
|Madhav Gupta||Event #70: CRAZY EIGHTS NLHE 8-Handed||162nd||$1,934-₹1.44 Lakhs|
|Raghav Bansal||Event #70: CRAZY EIGHTS NLHE 8-Handed||172nd||$1,934-₹1.44 Lakhs|
|Dhaval Mudgal||Event #70: CRAZY EIGHTS NLHE 8-Handed||208th||$1,776-₹1.32 Lakhs|
|Neel Joshi||Event #86: Super Turbo No-Limit Hold'em $1,000 buy-in||3rd||$72,031|
|Neel Joshi||Event #83: The Closer - No-Limit Hold'em $1,500 buy-in||129th||$3,890|
|Neel Joshi||Event #68: LITTLE ONE FOR ONE DROP No-Limit Hold'em $1,111 buy-in||326th||$2,224|
|Neel Joshi||Event #43: DOUBLE STACK No-Limit Hold'em $1,000 buy-in||446th||$1,752|
|Abhinav Iyer||Event #88: 8-Handed No-Limit Hold'em $5,000 buy-in||37th||$12,510|
|Abhinav Iyer||Event #79: Poker Hall of Fame Bounty No-Limit Hold'em (freezeout)||23rd||$5,059|
|Abhinav Iyer||Event #76: Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold'em (freezeout)||14th||$18,501|
|Abhinav Iyer||Event #56: 6-Handed No-Limit Hold'em Championship||12th||$8,521|
|Abhinav Iyer||Event #46: No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack||164th||$1,762|
|Abhinav Iyer||Event #33: 8-Handed No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack||229th||$1,787|
|Kartik Ved||Event #83: The Closer - No-Limit Hold'em||41st||$8,550|
|Kartik Ved||Event #75: Freezeout No-Limit Holdem||22nd||$8,136|
|Kalyan Chakravarthy||Event #83: The Closer - No-Limit Hold'em||117th||$3,891|
|Muskan Sethi||Event #83: The Closer - No-Limit Hold'em||270th||$2,400|
|Muskan Sethi||Event #81: No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack||157th||$1,600|
|Ankit Ahuja||Event #83: The Closer - No-Limit Hold'em||94th||$4,865|
|Ankit Ahuja||Event #86: Super Turbo No-Limit Hold'em||31st||$4,704|
|Yudhishter Jaswal||Event #86: Super Turbo No-Limit Hold'em||63rd||$2,739|
The original ‘Poker Guru,’ Aditya Agarwal, was one of the first players to represent India at the WSOP, having begun his annual trip to Las Vegas as early as 2006. Over 16 years, Agarwal has pulled out several standout scores at the annual series, collecting as many as eight cashes in the Main Event.
Though the Kolkata-born player failed to pick up the ninth cash at the Main Event this time, he more than made up for it by his spectacular run in Event #76: $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty. Agarwal entered the seven-handed final table as the chip leader and stormed his way into the heads-up against Winamax Team Pro Romain Lewis, where he began with a 2-to-1 chip lead. Team India looked well on track to claim the bracelet, but the veteran player suffered a few crippling setbacks. He eventually lost the title to Lewis, finishing runner-up for $286,705 (~₹2.13 Crores). Agarwal will always remember his 2021 WSOP outing wistfully – he topped the Indian tally of scores and picked up his career-best score. But he missed the WSOP gold!!
Along with one more cash at the series, Agarwal now has 46 WSOP scores to his credit and boasts a whopping $869,833 (~₹6.47 Crores) in recorded WSOP winnings.
When Abhinav Iyer landed in Las Vegas this fall, he had very high expectations riding on his shoulders. After all, he happens to be India’s first solo bracelet champion, a distinction he won in 2019!!
Iyer exerted a consistent presence in the series. As Indians fell out in the WSOP Main Event, the Chennai-based player waded past the competition, becoming the lone Indian, making it to Day 5 in a field of 96 (from a starting field of 6,650 entries). Iyer’s dream run ended as he fell to Sean Ragozzini, taking home a 60th place payout of $113,800 (₹84.64 Lakhs) – the second-best score by an Indian at the series, and Iyer’s own third-best score in a WSOP bracelet event to date!
Young Gun Neel Joshi delivered a breakout performance at the series with a third-place finish in Event #86: $1,000 Super Turbo NLHE. The 24-year-old Chemical Engineer from BITS Pilani waded past a 1,025-strong field in the event to make it to the nine-handed final table. Joshi held the fourth-largest stack at the unofficial final table, and by the time the play whittled down to five players, he was in pole position. However, Joshi’s dream run ended in third place, fetching him a career-best $72,031 (~₹53.58 Lakhs).
While Joshi’s FT finish was also the third-best score posted by an Indian at the series, he earned a collective $84,711 at the WSOP this season!
The relatively low-profile Vikranth Anga has been posting live tournament cashes since 2019, and his first recorded score was at the 2019 IPC Main Event in Goa. He could only muster a singular score at the WSOP, but he made it count. Anga cruised to the final table of Event #64: $5,000 Mixed NLHE/PLO, where he finished eighth for a career-best $53,824 (~₹40.07 Lakhs).
Anga also ITM-ed two other events in Las Vegas this time – both non-bracelet events – bagging $58,057 (~₹43.50 Lakhs) overall!
Dubai-based Vidur Sethi was one of the three Indians pitting their skills to defend the Tag Team title. Even after the Nikita Luther – Kunal Patni team fell out in 15th place, Sethi, who had paired up with Alfie Adam, made it to the final table. The team finished fifth, netting $25,928 for their efforts.
This was Sethi’s second cash at the series, and he collected two more after that. His best moment came in the WSOP Main Event, where he placed 632nd for $20,000, bringing his total tally at the series to $59,422 (~₹44.50 Lakhs)!
Kalyan Chakravarthy, the poker pro from New Delhi, is a seasoned reg with quite a lot of history at the WSOP. Chakravarthy cashed in five bracelet events, collecting $99,612 (~₹74.58 Lakhs). His most notable finish came at the WSOP Main Event, where he finished 367th for $30,000 (~₹22.30 Lakhs).
Yudhishter Jaswal locked in a 567th place score in the WSOP Main Event, amounting to $21,600 (~₹16.05 Lakhs). He also placed 63rd in Event #86: Super Turbo No-Limit Hold’em for $2,739 (~₹2.03 Lakhs). Jaswal currently has $145,222 (~₹1.08 Crores) in WSOP earnings.
The cash game reg from New Delhi, Shashank Jain, had picked up his first WSOP cash in 2014. A regular at the series since, Jain has accumulated 18 scores, rounding up $78,061 (~₹58.45 Lakhs) in WSOP winnings.
This year, he ran deep in three bracelet events, and his biggest score was the $15,000 (~₹11.51 Lakhs) he cashed in 862nd place in the WSOP Main Event. His other scores came in Event #81: No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack (88th for $2,292 – ₹1.70 Lakhs)) and Event #70: CRAZY EIGHTS No-Limit Hold’em 8-Handed (145th for $2,920 – ₹2.18 Lakhs).
Indian Sheroes at the 2021 WSOP
Poker is a male-dominated sport, but the landscape is changing – slowly but surely! Three Indian female poker players made waves at the WSOP this year. Shuchi Chamaria did really well and posted two scores, headlined by her run in Event #68: $1,111 Little One for One Drop. Chamaria started Day 3 of the Little One for One Drop with the 16th biggest stack and ultimately finished 73rd for $5,488.
Nikita Luther was looking to repeat her bracelet victory in the Tag Team event, and this year she teamed up with Kunal Patni. The duo was among the top 10 stacks at the start of Day 2 but fell out in 15th place at $4,576 (~₹3.42 Lakhs).
Muskan Sethi joined the action late in the series and scored in two events!
All in all, we give a thumbs-up to the Indian team for their focused efforts at the 2021 WSOP!! The 2022 WSOP is just over six months away, and we’re optimistic on a more significant turnout from India and many more bracelet sweats! (fingers crossed).
Content & Images Courtesy: WSOP, PokerNews & PokerGO