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Over time, we at PokerGuru have handpicked a talented group of players as our Young Guns. These are the players we feel are natural leaders on the felts and, when honed, can take their poker talent to unscaled heights with panache, passion, and dedication. Joining the elite hallmark of Young Guns is the Delhi lad Aayush Arya (cover image)!
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Arya’s poker story starts at BITS Pilani, the same university that churned out top pros like Anuj Yadav and Neel Joshi. Their dedication to the game and impressive poker journey inspired Arya to become a better player.
Arya was introduced to poker by a friend, and he started playing the game in his second year of college. His love for poker only grew through his college years.
Arya graduated at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and began working at an MNC as a software developer. By November 2021, he had worked for almost 13 months but decided to make the switch and pursue poker for a year.
The 25-year-old engineer, who recently moved to Bengaluru, has been crushing it at the poker felts lately. In April this year, Arya made his live debut at the Deltin Poker Tournament and found instant success as he shipped the ₹65K High Roller for a whopping ₹33.63 Lakhs.
July was one of the most career-defining months for Arya, who amassed a massive ₹52.76 Lakhs in online winnings, finishing #2 in the monthly standings! He is currently ranked seventh in the annual leaderboard standings with ₹2.25 Crores in yearly winnings (ranked #5 in net profits), which speaks volumes about Arya`s poker talents.
Over the past nine months, Arya has dedicated all his time to poker, taking at the same time significant strides in the game. He has been putting in rigorous work studying ICM concepts to improve his final table gameplay and regularly attends study sessions with another MTT reg Vishal Ojha while also discussing hands with a bunch of poker-playing friends.
Arya’s love for poker is the soul that breathes life into his poker grind, and his current form and mindset make him a strong contender for the POY title.
Let’s hear all about Arya’s exciting poker journey and his plans for the future!
Getting Into the Game
Poker entered Arya`s life in college! BITS Pilani’s zero-attendance requirement and a bustling environment that fostered poker games in the hostel rooms, the educational institution provided the ideal ambiance for nurturing budding poker talents like Arya`s.
During his second year, Arya began playing poker with his friends. With his strong affinity for mathematics, he enjoyed applying concepts like equity and odds when playing. Looking back, his college years played a crucial role in shaping his poker career.
“We used to play like ₹100 buy-in games with our hostel friends for fun, it was a good activity to socialize with people, and I also had a strong interest in mathematics. I enjoyed applying these concepts like equity, pot odds, and implied pot odds, and there used to be a lot of drama on our table back then, so that was a good place to be in.”
Making the Switch From a Full-Time Job to Poker
Arya graduated in 2020 and immediately started working as a software developer in a multinational company. Life was regular, but Arya wasn’t happy – he wanted more by stepping up his poker forays to see how far he could go.
“I knew that I could do well in poker as well, and I could pursue this professionally.”
With his entire focus on poker and after seeking his parents’ permission, Arya quit his job in November last year to devote his entire time to the game.
Big Breakthrough: Winning the DPT High Roller
It’s a long road ahead for Arya, but his DPT High Roller victory in April (2022) is a career milestone he will never forget. Arya had traveled to Goa and was among the 281 players who entered the High Roller. He sailed into the final table as the fourth-biggest stack and went on a rampage, eliminating six of his eight final table opponents, including the formidable Paawan Bansal heads-up!
He remembers – “The DPT Highroller was also my first live tournament, and I ended up shipping it, which is special!”
It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, though. On Day 2, Arya reached the casino thirty minutes before the tournament began, only to discover his starting table featured some of the top regs in the country. He admits it took him 10-15 minutes to calm down his nerves.
“I still remember that pros like Aditya Sushant, Raghav Bansal, and Ashish Munot were all sitting at the same table as me. These were the guys I have been seeing crushing since like forever,” Arya said.
But he decided to take the challenge heads-up. He felt he had the advantage of knowing how they play but was a relatively new opponent for them, something he could exploit. “I decided to bluff more in spots in which pros don’t expect you to be aggressive and be tighter in spots in which pros expect newcomers to be aggressive. In that way, it was easy for me, and eventually, luckily, I ended up winning that tournament.”
The Goa trip turned out to be a turning point for Arya`s poker journey and just the push he was looking for. The significant bankroll boost allowed him to play the expensive flagships more often, and he has been beasting the high roller tournaments, having already made more than ten final table finishes in the last four months!
The Secret to Remaining Consistent
Looking at Arya’s poker graph will reveal that he has been consistently making deep runs in marquee tournaments over the past few months. When asked the secret behind his consistency, Arya insisted that there was no secret.
“I’m also following the process like all the other pros. I have constantly been working on my game daily. I take screenshots of all the difficult spots and study them the next day. On top of that, I have been working on my theoretical skills and working with some solver-derived tools like DTO and Odin.”
“One thing I would say is that I focus on studying more efficiently rather than qualitatively. Because initially, if you have seen as many spots as possible, you can know what to do in the game.”
Drawing Inspiration From Neel Joshi & Anuj Yadav
Arya’s college senior and friend, Neel Joshi, has been pivotal in his poker journey. Arya was an eyewitness to Joshi’s drive for poker and was greatly inspired by Joshi’s focused gameplay.
“Joshi had the vision of becoming a poker pro in the second year (of college) when the rest of us were starting out in the game. Today, he’s one of the top pros in the country. Seeing him navigate his way made it easier for me to see him as I knew what the process is and what things you need to do.”
The two are good pals, and Arya gives Joshi all the credit for helping him learn the game. “He’s always there to help me whenever I’m stuck in some spot.”
Young Gun Anuj Yadav is another college senior who inspired Arya. Interestingly, he never met Yadav in college. Arya first ran into Yadav at the DPT in Goa.
“He’s definitely like one of the top five players in the country. He plays very creatively and takes some nonconventional lines, so it is always fun to watch him,” Arya says, adding Gaurav Sood is another player he follows.
Studying & Poker Subscriptions
The DPT Highroller score gave Arya’s bankroll a significant boost, and he upped his volume in the bigger buy-in tournament. But the perfectionist that he is, he still felt his performance on the DPT High Roller final table left a lot to be desired.
“I decided to focus hard on my final table gameplay for the next two to three months. In recent months, I have worked hard on the ICM techniques used to solve the final table dynamics.”
Arya’s hard work seems to have paid off handsomely!
While Arya feels that getting into BITS Pilani was one of the most important stepping stones in his poker journey, he has miles to go. Ever since he decided to give poker a full-time shot, he has been doing study sessions with Vishal Ojha while also being in a group with Ojha and others where they discuss the hands they play. Arya has also subscribed to the poker training site, Run It Once.
“There is another group with Neel, but we discuss those exceptional spots that are out of the box,” he added.
Downswings & Poker Lessons
Downswings are part and parcel of any player’s poker journey. Arya believes that playing within one’s bankroll negates the impact downswings can have on one’s game. If a player is still affected by downswings, Arya recommends taking a break from the game for a few days or a week.
What’s the biggest lesson that poker has taught him? “I would say that decision-making is a skill that I have greatly improved after playing poker. Poker makes you a better decision-maker because you can handle your emotions after playing this game. You don’t want emotions to impact your decisions because it is not practical. Now I can say that I am a better decision maker after playing poker, which will help me in every field I go to in the future.”
While Arya has no long-term goals, he plans to experiment by playing more tables to optimize his profits.
He intends to develop a well-rounded resume balancing both live and online poker. “I’ll be participating in all the live tournaments, given that my schedule and bankroll allow me to participate.”
He confesses that if someday he decides to give up poker as a profession, he’ll continue playing the game recreationally and participating in live tournaments.
However, his end goal is clear to him. “But in the future, I aspire to become more theoretically sound and aspire to be one of the best players in the country.”
Advice For Others
Having committed to playing poker full-time since last November, Arya has made his mark in the domestic circuit. Drawing from his relatively recent yet insightful experiences, Arya offers some solid advice for up-and-coming players.
“I’d say, choose the game you have an edge in and practice proper bankroll management.”
He adds, “You can also go aggressive with your bankroll by playing higher buy-in tournaments and lower buy-in tournaments so that the average (buy-in) is maintained. This is a high variance route, but I think this has helped me evolve as a poker player because if you need to become better, you need to play with better players. So yes, that is optional if you can execute it properly.”
Well said! Aayush Arya is ticking the right checkboxes in the game. We wish this young go-better all the best for a trailblazing poker career and look forward to reporting on many more of his future feats!