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Known as ‘anmols’ on PokerStars, Anmol Srivats all of 21 years has been playing poker since late 2010 and has already acquired a reputation at the virtual felts with $527,294 in online earnings and is currently ranked first among the 308 Indian players registered on Pocketfives.com. Anmol also plays live and has made two final tables at the UKIPT, though he believes that there’s more money in playing cash games than tournaments. In July this year, he floated a self-challenge on Sharkscope that he could convert $100 into $1000, to prove that hard work and study could help build an online bankroll with minimal investment.
A student in Scotland, Anmol learnt poker from his father, who was into play money games, but still faced initial family resistance to his playing. Anmol is highly active at online poker and looks up to several Indian players, such as Aditya Agarwal, Danish Shaikh and Sahil Agarwal, among others.
Featured here as a PokerGuru Young Gun, Anmol shares for our readers about his poker journey and more. Passionate about poker, he finds the TDS cut exorbitant and feels more should be done to educate others about the skill factor in the sport. Read all about his views and his poker thoughts in this interview.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 21 years old, from Bangalore going into my final year in the undergraduate math degree in the UK.
How and when did you come across the sport of poker?
When I was young I used to watch my dad play tournaments of play money and it seemed exciting. When I was like 14-15, I started watching WSOP videos on YouTube and got really into Zynga Poker with my friends as we all were very excited about it and then from there I made a small deposit on PokerStars for $10. Actually had a deal with my dad he would put $10 in my PokerStars account and I wouldn’t play for 6 months if I lose it. Then, I lot the $10 and after six months I asked him to re-deposit the $10 to which he replied that it wasn’t a part of the initial deal. So then I had to grind the freerolls and won the Weekly Round 2 on PokerStars where I finished 1st among 5000 participants for $300 and then I built my bankroll from there. This was in late 2010 and then I think the first tournament I had a deep finish was a $2 re-buy tournament on Full Tilt Poker for $2,600. That’s when I knew I could play good poker as I had invested only $4 and got this much return. It was pretty cool that I actually won it and not like watching it on TV.
How much time do you grind on average & which variant of the game do you prefer playing?
It depends on how much I am grinding, sometimes I only grind a few tourneys for like 12 hours on Sunday but otherwise I grind regularly. It can go up to +90 hours a week on vacations. Whenever I am awake I am grinding those days. I tend to play PLO cash sometimes, don’t really play NL Hold’em cash as I feel bored and I think you need to play pretty tight to win money there.
Please tell us about your journey of standing in the top 500 of the world. Any key phases you want to talk about? Was the milestone an agenda since the start?
I wouldn’t say it was on the agenda, sometimes I would just try to climb up the PocketFives leader board for motivation for India as its more reachable goal. It’s just a fun sweat and that being said the PocketFives rank isn’t such a big deal, it’s just a good thing and shows that you have been grinding and winning continuously for some time. It’s not like if your ranking is good you are a good player and if it’s bad you are a bad player. They tend to value recent scores, so whenever I grind my ranking would shoot up and if I haven’t grinded that much in a couple of months they start to get low. But the end of December 2016 I was No.1 in India but then Adi (Aditya Agarwal) won something and I stopped grinding so my points went down. Now Adi is not grinding that much and I have so that makes a difference. I have had some good finishes over the summer like I won Sunday Challenge on 888poker for $17K, then I won the Crocodile for $9.5K. I came 3rd in a $320 PLO event for $7K so due to these scores I have scored a lot of points.
Tell us about your family’s understanding of the sport.
Initially they weren’t very happy about it and everyone in my family is quite stubborn so it’s also like they couldn’t do anything about it. They didn’t even force me stop or anything like that but recently with good results, they have been ok with it. If my rankings are good, so it legitimizes it and then you can say that my son isn’t a gambler, he’s ranked first in India doing something right.
They are starting to understand that it’s a skill game. My dad from starting realized that it’s a skilled sport but the issue was how can you know if you’re good because of the luck factor. You need to play for so much time before you even know if you’re good so why waste time on it and it was a fair point from him but I really enjoy it and have played enough to prove that I am good at it. With my mom, she initially thought that it was gambling and disapproved with it but became more accepting after I became financially successful. Even if I was gambling I was making much more than working at a regular college job. I have been definitely rewarded much more financially from poker than if I was working in McDonald’s or something.
Do you play live? Please tell us about some of your notable scores till date.
Yea, I play live. In tournaments I might not do that well in the beginning as due to slow pace of the event in the beginning but once I start playing my style I do well. I played maybe 15-20 live events in my life and in three different series I have won with good chip lead inside the money. My most notable score till date was a 4th place finish in Edinburgh for around $5.5K and had 40% of chips at a stage but I lost three all-ins in five hands I got knocked out of the event so that was sick.
Domestically, I went to BPT this time, I didn’t do very well in the tourneys but I made some money playing cash. I actually think that there’s more money playing live cash than playing live tourneys.
Where and how often do you travel for poker?
Yea I travel for poker and need to too as I live in a small Scottish town with a population of 17,000 only so there aren’t any poker games going here. I travel to Edinburgh which is the nearest big city with a casino in it which is about one and a half hour train ride. Sometimes I travel to London too. Generally I travel 3-4 times in a month and go to Edinburgh.
How much time do you devote to improve your game and how do you go about it?
I watch some videos on runittonce.com and talk to some good players. I have not yet started studying with software fully which I am working on and generally I think about hands in my free time and about different moves from me and villain. One thing I would say is that while thinking about hands, never think of only the cards you hold, but think about playing the hand with your whole range.
Who are the players you look up to; both in domestic and international circuit?
In India, I would like to emulate the achievements of Aditya Agarwal and Danish Shaikh, also I am trying to learn PLO from some good players like Abhigya Cairn Sagar and Abhineet Jain. I talk to both of them quite often and they have been quite helpful. Internationally, Fedor Holz is my idol because he is on another level altogether. Generally speaking, I am impressed by any player who plays well online, they spent a lot of time playing online and I get good insights from them. Antilog (Sahil Agarwal) is also among the good players like his sharkscope graphs look very nice.
What do you think about the current scenario of poker in the country?
I think it’s in its infant stage. First I would say that it’s going to be very tough for poker to grow with the TDS of 30%. Maybe it will be possible for the SpartanPoker.com model as they tend to bear the TDS for all their players from the rake generated. It feels like too much money flowing out of the community. The thing is at least the game is getting more mainstream attention and maybe at some point the government will get rid of the 30% rule. I think the norm followed in UK for casinos is better as they don’t levy any tax on players, but they do it on the casino. If government takes it directly from the companies, that would take so much hassle out from players. Right now I hesitate coming for events due to this reason and it’s like 25% of your returns are already gone from ROI and that’s a big hit.
Having said that I also think it’s very important in educating people about poker being a skill game rather than just gambling and somewhere it’s getting better but I feel more could be done. For now, people don’t talk about ranges, hand discussions in mainstream media. If this happens people will start getting it more as top what thinking goes behind the decisions taken. If you ever watch the World Chess Championship, the commentators analyze moves like 7 moves in advance and when you see the player making a different yet better move you think about the skill factor of the player. In poker this side should be shown more of what thinking is involved in making decisions and what factors they take into account.
What are your plans for future?
I haven’t really decided on what my plans are. I want to get better and start studying through software’s, fixing a couple of things in my game. I wouldn’t mind going pro for a couple of years, travelling around the worlds for tourneys and have a bit of fun. So going pro is an agenda as of now but nothing is fixed.
Anmol signs off!