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Young Gun of Poker: Pranay Kapoor

Young Gun of Poker: Pranay Kapoor
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  • PG News May 8, 2016
  • 8 mins Read

27-year old Pranay ‘mitarachi89’ Kapoor is a restaurateur’s son, who has developed a passion for poker, which shows in the many impressive scores he has made over the past few years. The latest addition to our lineup of PokerGuru Young Guns, Pranay recently won the Spartan Poker Gladiator Race to bag an all expenses paid trip to the mecca of poker – Las Vegas! He followed that up with a second place finish in the New World of Sports (NWOS) club inaugural tournament for INR 2.45 lakhs. His poker resume is dotted with numerous cashes, both live and online.

Pranay began his tryst with poker in 2009 at Zynga and soon graduated to home games. A dedicated PLO player, he prefers the format over NLH, which he had begun with and declares that the former offers him ‘bigger swings’.

Like many others, Pranay faced stiff opposition from his family, but they finally have begun to come around, though he states that he himself is still trying to figure out if he will continue only with poker as his mainstay, or return to the family’s restaurant business.

Pranay also admits that nothing can beat the thrill of live playing. He obviously enjoys the Indian Poker Championship (IPC) series and says that he does not go there to make money, but to play against the top names in poker.

Pranay is upset over the present delay in the announcement of the next IPC series, which he feels has brought the domestic poker scene almost to a standstill; he informs that he is planning to play more international events henceforth as TDS is a great deterrent to playing in India.

Here, we present a question-answer session with Pranay. Hear him talk about his early poker journey, how he balances sitting in front of the computer for long hours, his first trip to Macau, his plans to play more abroad, and at the upcoming SCOOP, besides his wish to see an Indian win a bracelet at the WSOP…

Please tell us about yourself (age, education etc).

I am 27-years-old. I was born and brought up in Pune; I finished my MBA from Symbiosis College here and then worked in Mumbai for a year. I didn’t like it much so shifted back to Pune and joined my Dad’s business. We have a couple of restaurants here in Pune and have been in business for 40 years now.

Now I am trying to see poker as something I could do full time. Getting my parents onboard is difficult, so I have asked them for a couple of months for me to see if it’s feasible or not.

How and when did you come across poker?

Basically I got introduced to the game through Zynga like most of Indians do; I started playing in 2009-10 then shifted to Rs.100 home games with some of my friends. Then got introduced to PokerStars and started playing there for a while and then in 2012-13 a friend of mine introduced me to and I started playing NL Hold’em. I didn’t know much about PLO that time. I started railing some PLO then and felt that the action was much better in PLO than Hold’em, so would rail these tables a lot. I started watching bigger tables and then eventually shifted full time to PLO. I started playing 25/50 initially from the 30k bankroll I had and then moved up the ladder.

Now I only play PLO and never Hold’em online. Live, I go for tournaments once in a while. This year I am also planning a couple of international tours because the Indian tournament scene has completely died due to IPC and Deltin issue that happened recently. I don’t think IPC will happen there. Apart from that there are a couple of series in Bangalore, but I don’t like to travel just to play 2-3 events, so that’s why I feel games abroad are much better. Though the investment is higher, but since there is no TDS, fields and guarantees being bigger, I feel it’s much better to play abroad.

The thrill you get from playing live tournaments, there is nothing that can beat that. Online I play cash PLO nearly on a daily basis and I play the SCOOP and other PLO tournaments on PokerStars as well. This year has been good since I have final tabled 7-8 times starting with the $33 PLO tournament to the $215 Saturday PLO tournament and considering that I have been putting very less volume, it’s been pretty good considering the ROI I got. I must have played max 30-35 tournaments of PLO this year and final tabled 8 or 9 of them.

You initially start playing NL Holden and then the transition to PLO happened. Please tell us more about that.

As I mentioned I used to play only cash on PokerStars and a few Sit N Go’s and bankroll management was one thing I did not follow initially. I lost quite a bit there and then when I got introduced to Adda52 and started playing hold’em there. The games were pretty soft so the money was coming easily. I used to grind the small 10/20, 25/50 tables. I started off with very shallow roll and didn’t have any savings. So whatever money I got, was from here and there and from my parents.

I started railing a lot of players on adda and PokerStars. The pots were way bigger and there were 4-5 tables running throughout the day, so I felt like watching these people play and learnt the basics by railing people and then shifted.

Maybe it was beginner’s luck or maybe I grasped the game quickly, the money was coming decently which I didn’t expect from something like poker as I never saw it as a career. Once it did, I started evaluating it more and giving it more time. I shifted to PLO because of bigger swings.

Tell us about your family’s understanding of the sport. Do they support your decision to pursue poker as a career?

Initially my parents were completely against the game of poker. I never hid anything from them and they knew from the start that I was playing poker. But obviously like Indian parents they were completely against card games, as its just gambling for them so it was very difficult for me to explain that there is a lot of skill involved in the game which over a long period of time pays off. So initially I tried making them read articles, which they refused to do then. When the Karnataka government recognized the sport as a game of skill, I tried to make them read those articles, but they still did not budge; so it was very difficult.

But I guess over a period of time and specially the last one year since they have seen me consistently make a decent amount of money, they realized that in the long run if you are good at the game you will make money and it’s not that much about luck. They have slowly steadily accepted it and now since my stakes are higher now and the returns are higher too, so they have seen me consistently grow and make money. They have accepted that I am decent in my game and in the WCOOP cash, my dad was sitting watching me play for 2-3 hours. And every 5-10 hands I would explain him that I put the opponent on these cards. Thankfully most of my reads were correct, so I guess he accepts that I understand the game well.

I have asked for a few months to figure if I myself feel to continue this keeping in mind the hours and efforts I put in the game. So after 2-3 months I myself will be taking a call deciding whether it’s something I want to pursue. Obviously I love the sport and want to play it for the rest of my life but maybe if the returns aren’t that great, then maybe I will concentrate on my dad’s business and do this side by side.

My parents were also against the idea of me sitting with a computer for hours, not meeting people or going out or exercising but lately I have started balancing all of them. I take breaks and go out to meet friends, exercise regularly and when I come back I have a fresh mind to start grinding. Before, the time frame used to be short so whatever time I got I used to play poker, but now there is no issue of time. I would come back home late at night and would start playing if the tables are good and continue playing till 6 am and it will not be a problem.

Where and how often do you travel for poker?

I don’t travel often enough as much as I want to, but from this year onwards I am planning to play probably two Asian events every year. Next year, maybe I would target something like EPT and one Asian event.

For now Goa is something I don’t look forward to unless it’s IPC. In IPC you get to meet so many new people and make many friends, but I would never go there with the intention to make money. It’s just about playing poker with some of the biggest names in the country. Mainly I would prefer going abroad as it’s a different feeling. I made my first trip to Macau this year where I played all the events along with a friend of mine and it was a great experience. The fields are much bigger and they were not that hard as I expected them to be. It makes more sense to go abroad and grind.

What do you think about the current scenario of poker in the country?

The current scenario is decent in the sense that there are a lot of people who are getting in the game. The problem I see is IPC going away from Goa, which is a big drawback. Let’s hope they start somewhere else or something big in Goa because now it’s something everyone looks forward to.

In regards of online, I feel the biggest downfall is the TDS part which is difficult to deal with. Hopefully government should decrease the percentage in future, which will be a huge help. At the same time keeping green money in banks is something I prefer rather than trying to evade taxes. Apart from that, I think it’s booming as online there are a lot of websites that have come up with great games running. I don’t know much about live games but I heard there are decent games in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

What are your plans for the future? Any set goals?

Set goals for this year, coming up this week will be the SCOOP grind, hopefully that goes well. I was fortunate enough that Aditya ‘intervention’ Agarwal bought a part of my pack, which feels very good and motivating, and at the same time nerve wrecking to have to perform well in the series. He is probably the best player in the country.

In July I will plan to go to APPT in Manila, WSOP I am not sure but I have won a trip to Vegas through; I am still deciding whether to go for the grind or to go as a vacation with my to-be fiancé.

Any parting words or anything you would like to add?

No parting words as such, I just want to see an Indian doing good in WSOP winning a bracelet or something. That will be awesome J

Pranay signs off!

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