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Eka ‘Goforitrejam’ Vedantham claimed his first ‘PokerGuru Star of the Week’ title just last Tuesday, but few know that the youngster has been busy at the grind for almost four years now and has also been a sponsored member of the Star Poker team. Last week, Vedantham made five different cashes, including a win and three final table finishes to claim the title. Just a few days ago he shipped the Spartan Poker Super Series Event #11 for a sum of INR 25K defeating a field of 154 runners.
Our latest Young Gun of Poker, Vedantham learnt poker through his sister and having just completed his graduation in England is already busy working at becoming a pro. Despite his young age, the player displays a deep understanding of the sport and the flipside, such as variances and downswings, which are often, missed by many starting out.
Vedantham treats the sport like any other career and believes in growing by observing, analyzing and discussing hands with senior players. His idols are Aditya Sushant and JD Saz in the Indian poker community, with Jason Mercier and Davidi Kitai among international pros.
The youngster has an immense drive that shows when he talks about poker, as in his answers here. Read on to know all about his poker journey, his opinions on the sport and how the recognition means more to him than mere money…
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Your education and professional background?
I am born and brought up in Bangalore and did my schooling here, graduating from Mallya Aditi. I then pursued a degree in Journalism from Essex University, Colchester. No professional background till now. Since I came back to India a year and a half back, I had a really positive start and that allowed me to become better at a faster pace. After a while I looked at the numbers and thought to myself that maybe I could do this for a living. Safe to say, I went with it and decided to pursue poker. Big foodie, love music and ofcourse, a fishy table.
How and when did you come across the sport of poker? Please take us through the journey.
I came across the Sport through Zynga on FaceBook. My sister was very much into it and that’s how I got introduced to poker. So she taught me poker when I was 15-16 years old. I used to enjoy playing it but never thought that you can make a career out of this. And I always said that anything I do, I need to care about it and love doing so poker is the right fit. Once I got used to the lifestyle, there was no turning back especially for a lazy guy like myself (haha).
If I were to work tomorrow, I would work harder and longer without being as financially rewarded. Money is just a way to keep score and if I can continue doing this and make more money than someone working a regular 9-5 job, I choose this hands down.
I feel that lots of players are not able to handle variance and downswings which I don’t think is the case with me. I know my game and if you play for long enough then you understand and can anticipate all possible outcomes that could happen. It becomes a part of your natural thought process.
I love poker as a profession. If you are lucky enough to produce big scores and maybe get sponsored by some poker company and get to travel around the world playing tournaments, I can’t see a more fulfilling career.
I started playing online in UK itself, first on FullTilt and then moved to PokerStars.
How often do you play and which variant of the game do you prefer playing?
I stopped playing online when I came back to India and was focusing only on live poker, as that was new for me and I was exploring and experiencing it all. I started with Kings and Queens Poker room and this was when it was hard to fill even one table in Bangalore and the games would run only till 11pm. You have to learn all aspects of the game one step at a time and I was adjusting to live poker.
I prefer Texas Hold’em over any other format. I was primarily a cash game player and always preferred playing cash but with the recent tournament scores I will definitely give that a real shot.
I started playing on Indian sites around 6 months back and was even a sponsored pro for a site, but I didn’t play on PokerStars or any other international site. I just started playing on PokerStars two weeks back and I kept going the past week as I was winning consistently. I have cashed for around $25K in these two weeks and its very surprising how much people appreciate and acknowledge you once you show some scores at a platform like this. Even if I make 5 lakhs in a day playing a cash game no one would know about it. But get a few key tournaments to go your way and along with the financial benefit you also get recognition.
The beauty of this game is that if you are able to show consistent scores then every now or then an opportunity will present it itself such as sponsorship or backing by a staker which is the ideal thing to look for if you hope to have a career in poker. If you have results people will acknowledge it.
Where and how often do you travel for poker?
I just recently went for the Deltin Poker Tournament and am also planning another trip for the upcoming Deltin Poker Tournament. I haven’t been travelling much to play outside of India, but I do plan to travel far and wide in the future. I first and foremost want to establish myself in the domestic arena before anything else.
How much time do you devote to improve your game and how do you do it?
I don’t use any HUD’s or software’s while grinding, as you can’t make it all about numbers. Math in poker is fine as much as outs are considered or probability is considered. I feel that HUDs over complicates the math and makes it all about numbers and this allows me to take advantage of more frequent spots deeper in a tournament. My general strategy is start out super tight. It’s a marathon so while people might be focused at the start of a tournament, by the end of a six hour grind they rely heavily on their stats provided by the “HUD” and play accordingly. Thus, you can figure out what they expect from you and don’t and can afford to push marginal spots that someone else might not be able to do later in a tournament where accumulating chips is key.
To improve I discuss and talk to a lot of good players. I discuss strategies with them and some spots or hands with them. I also watch a lot of videos and read forums, articles and other published material and that’s about it. I pay attention while playing and like on PokerStars in big tournaments you get to play at the same table for long stretch and you can observe and know about your opponent’s game. Most of my learning is based on observation and analyzing the play.
What’s your grinding schedule like?
My grinding schedule is a typical 9 to 5 at night. I start usually around 9 as that’s when most of the big tournaments start and they end up around 5 am. Hyper turbo events finish in a span of 3-4 hours. So I tend to play different events and multi-table. The thing is that on Indian sites there are good tournaments and high value events which can be life changing to the winner and can shape any one’s future but the frequency is not that much in my opinion. There are weekly events, decent prize pools but for a grinder one big event once a month is too less.
The fact is that these big tournaments can really boost a player’s bankroll and then he can go for international events and convert those winnings and multiply it. Even for me if suppose I win The Millionaire on Spartan this month or any other big event on Indian sites, I will definitely use that for some international tournaments and try and run it up to the point where I can make a consistent living out of it.
Who are the players you look up to, both in domestic and international circuit?
In the domestic circuit I’m a big fan of Aditya Sushant, JD SAZ and a bunch of other regular pros. Their foundation is solid and I can’t think of two bigger names to strive to emulate. In the international circuit, I’m a big fan of David Kitai (for his insane soul reads) and Jason Mercier for his impeccable dedication to the game. Dan Coleman too, for all he’s done at such a young age.
What are your plans for future? Any set goals?
Yes I do plan to play some good poker in Goa. Goa is the birthplace of poker pros according to me and if you want to be recognized then getting a big score in Goa is very important. After DPT, once I come to Bangalore I’ve decided to shift my focus from live poker to online poker to really give myself the best shot at utilizing my time wisely and have taken a step in the right direction by moving into a new house. Next I’ll probably get a good set up and in the future I plan on starting a stream where I can reach the most people possible and hopefully contribute in some way, to their game. I’ve had so many requests from strangers and so much encouragement thrown my way from friends that it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t do my part to give back to the community.
I am also working towards fixing a few leaks in my game and learning to make some tough folds preflop too. Having a live stream set up for big tournaments will really help me analyze exactly what I could have done better and all in all, become a better player. Another very important goal for me is to win a title. It’s not about the money so much as the glory and what heights it could potentially catapult you to.
Any parting words or anything you would like to add?
Players should be rewarded from time to time for the wheel to keep turning smoothly and this will in turn strengthen the community as a whole and bring more money into the poker economy.
That being said, poker is a growing sport in our country and if we strive to give our people the best chance of success by providing them with the best possible gameplay whether live or online, we can soon be a force to be reckoned with.