6 Minutes Read
A rising star who has shown good form both on the live and virtual felts, PokerGuru Team Ambassador Jayjit Ray (cover image) is a name to watch out for.
Hailing from the City of Joy, Ray took his first steps in the world of poker through a computer game which progressed further as the Zynga Poker craze took hold of him. In fact, he even made decent pocket money playing ₹100 buy-in cash games with his college buddies once he got the hang of participating in real-money games.
After graduation, he got a job at Standard Chartered Bank but his passion for poker persisted and Ray found himself saving money from his salary to play the mind sport. Eventually, he was standing at the crossroads forced to choose between his conventional banking job or opt for the more unorthodox vocation of poker. In the end, the latter choice prevailed, and as it turned out, it was the right choice indeed!
Once the decision was made, Ray joined the popular live poker staking stable Acejack, which has recently been re-branded to PokerGuru, where he met Team PokerStars pro Aditya Agarwal who is a mentor with the organization. Ray, who is more popularly known as ‘England’ in poker circles, credits the poker stalwart for his recent good form and success, even if he has had to endure the endless television sitcoms and ‘Fish Thalis’ to appease his flatmate/mentor, which is a small price to pay to get mentored by arguably the best in the country!
Undoubtedly, one of the brightest emerging poker talents in the domestic circuit, this Kolkata-based player dreams of playing at this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP), even though his parents are still unaware of his poker life.
Let us read about Ray’s remarkable story in his own words.
Born and raised in Kolkata, Ray comes from a Bengali family with a businessman father and a homemaker mother. He completed his graduation in Computer Application in 2011 and immediately stepped into the corporate life thereafter.
“I did my graduation in Computer Application in 2011 and then immediately got a job at Standard Chartered Bank and worked there till 2016.”
Ray’s interest in poker was initially piqued when he came across a computer game CD which had a game called ‘POKERSTARS II’ and soon enough, he too got bit by the Zynga bug.
“The Zynga craze hit everyone including me. Now, me and my friends would compete each and every day to see who could accumulate the most chips on Zynga. It became a competition among us.”
He played his first real-money poker game in 2009 at a friend’s place which marked the growth of his interest and passion for the game.
“I went over to play poker for the first time for real money at a friend’s place and it was a ₹100 buy-in game and I won ₹200 and was so happy. We had that game running every day for almost two years. I made some good pocket money out of that game during my college days.”
After graduating from college, Ray choose to become a banker, but his affair with poker was far from over.
“In 2011, I graduated, and I got a job and by this time there were rake games running and poker clubs coming up in Kolkata. So now, I would save money from my salary and play these games and in a couple of months I built up a good bankroll and saw that I was earning much more than my salary. So, this made me question myself ‘Why should I do this job?’ But then, there were bad days in poker where another question would come up ‘What if I fail in poker?’ So, this had me confused for some time and I could not come up with a decision.”
This conundrum of choosing between a stable and traditional profession or an exciting yet uncertain poker career, brought Ray to a vocational impasse. In the end, Ray was able to come to a solution.
“Then one day, while at work, I told myself that since I am earning more than my salary, it’s better to put in hours in poker and learn the game and make more money. So, I finally left my job on the last day of 2015 and gave my full dedication to poker. It has been a slow and steady journey till now but I am happy that I made the right decision.”
Well-known by his moniker ‘England’ on the live and online front, the name was a result of a jersey that Ray had once worn to a snooker parlour.
“I love playing snooker. There is this snooker parlour in Kolkata named Pool Academy where I have been playing for the last 13 years. The first day, when I went to this parlour, I was wearing an England football jersey, and nobody knew my name and so they all started calling me ‘England’. Soon, my new snooker friends and I would go and play poker and they would keep on calling me ‘England’ in front of others and that is how it gradually got viral in the poker circuit.”
Ray’s poker career took a turn for the better once his came under the mentorship of Aditya Agarwal, who eventually became his flatmate in Goa, through the poker staking stable AceJack.
“I have been mentored by Adi since May 2018 and it has been a brilliant experience. I think he is the perfect mentor that anyone can ask for. He will give us lessons, share his experiences and will go over through our hand histories and point out our leaks and rectify them. He is constantly teaching us. That’s the best part.”
Crediting Agarwal’s aggressive approach to the game as a factor for his improvement, Ray also had a lot to say about the poker icon as a flatmate.
“Adi is super chilled out. He will not pressurize you to do anything apart from watching online TV shows with him. He is keeping me up to date with all the latest and best online TV shows. And, he has developed a new addiction and it’s called ‘Fish Thali’. He will do anything for a ‘Fish Thali’ and ‘Crab Masala’. Those two are his favourites.”
Ray advises that upcoming players with limited bankroll should certainly look into poker stables.
“My advice to players joining a stable would be, if you have bankroll problems and you want to learn the game then it is better to join a stable.”
In the last year, Ray registered several deep runs on both the live and online felts.
“The reason behind all these recent online and live scores have been because of Adi’s guidance and me implementing them in my game. I tried not getting into too many difficult spots at the table and adjusted myself according to dynamics and also kept myself calm even after a bad beat.”
In fact, 2018 brought Ray his maiden live title in the ₹75K High Roller event at the Baadash Gaming Live Tournament, Goa in October.
“It was a good experience at the Baadshah Gaming Tournament Series. There weren’t any major adjustments in the transition from online MTTs to live MTTs other than being more patient because you can be card dead for hours. The difference between online and live is that in online you are dealt a greater number of hands than you are in live and you are multi tabling online. So as a result, you are busy each and every second and you need a lot of focus for that.”
Ray’s present grinding regime is mainly focused on MTTs and studying live sessions in order to further improve his game.
“I play lesser cash games nowadays because I have totally shifted my focus to MTTs. I study by going through live sessions or hand history reviews of some of the top MTT pros in the world and I also watch some of Adi’s hand histories and start implementing them in my game. And then in the evening I sit down and grind online MTTs across all major Indian sites.”
However, his conservative family is completely oblivious of his poker persona and Ray is still building up to the right time to tell them.
“My parents are totally in the dark about my poker. I have not told them yet. Right now, I am just building a good graph in poker so that I can tell them in the future.”
Ray believes that poker is steadily growing and developing in India, specifically online poker. With the advent of poker leagues, the mind sport has become more accessible to the masses.
“The current poker scene in India is improving day by day. Online sites are giving away huge guarantees. They are also giving benefits in the form of rewards. Now, maybe these online sites can start organizing more and more package satellite to all the best tourneys across the world so that people with bankroll problems can have an opportunity to go and play these big international tourneys. With these Leagues running and getting televised, slowly people here will get to know that poker is indeed a game of skill and its growing. Many men and women are taking it up as a profession and ultimately the game could be legalized in the country.”
A level-headed player who knows that the key to doing well in poker is to know more than just the basics. He counsels newcomers to “try and learn the game as much as possible and manage your bankroll properly.”
And as for his dreams, Ray plans to play at the 50th World Series of Poker (WSOP) this year and is dedicatedly working towards making this dream come true.
“Right now, my future plan is to play at the World Series this year. So, working hard for it.”