8 mins Read
Over the past few years, PokerGuru has repeatedly recognized young and promising talent. Today, we bring forth another such Young Gun, Kanishk Bansal, who has been quietly, but steadily making his mark in the cash games scene. The 26-year old player hails from the picturesque town of Karnal, near the Delhi-Haryana border. Kanishk belongs to a business family that is predominantly in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.
Destiny led Kanishk to Manipal University, (which by the way has churned out several poker talents, but that is another story) ostensibly to pursue an education in BBM (ebanking and finance). While he did gain his degree, it was here that Kanishk met with fait accompli and his poker journey began.
One fateful day in 2008, after a depressing performance in his engineering exams, Kanishk sat down with a bunch of buddies to play a new game those days called ‘Hold’em.’ Unlike many familiar with cards, Kanishk was absolutely clueless and as he says, “Having no background in cards, I sat down, was quite bewildered, but for the 200 rupee asking price my mind said “What the heck, I can’t get any unluckier anyway”.”
The day seems etched in his mind, as he reminisces, “That is the one day, in hindsight that I really reflect upon, all those mistakes, such easy money, I wish I was the player (then) I am today, GENESIS!”
Clearly, Kanishk was impressed by the game then and as he himself admits, that day, “What was a friendly kitchen table game (NLHE 200min) sealed my future in this game.”
Continuing to play, Kanishk was quick enough to learn from mistakes and began to move towards increasingly bigger games. When two of his college mates bought full-sized poker tables, he soon became a ‘collegiate’ grinder. With his business family background, Kanishk was already unimpressed by engineering. It was not long before the lucrative aspect of poker began to appeal to him more than anything else.
That college playing time served as his experimentation and practice, as Kanishk states, “After countless hours of marrying kings, calling out of position, and undervaluing a check-raise on the river, I finally came to and adapted to my mistakes.”
Kanishk began to dream of playing at the Indian Mecca of poker, Goa and recalls, “the game was now 20/40 2000 min, the goal almost each time was to grind out 10000 and go to Goa and try my luck at the big league.”
The trip turned into several and the harsh reality saw him return broke many a time, but the experience gained paid off in value much greater, down the line.
An eureka moment on another such train ride from Manipal to Goa had Kanishk conclude that enough was enough and that he had to break his “fear’ to make it big. In his own words, “One fine day, I was again on a local train from Manipal to Goa, and I thought to myself, “not this time”, I had adapted to the situation well enough to know that a single buy-in won’t cut it and scared money never wins.”
On that trip, Kanishk made his first big score, “I cashed out big, (for that time) about 1.6L on a single buy-in of 10k.”
Many would have been swayed by this huge amount, but displaying maturity beyond his years, Kanishk decided to concentrate more on his game, rather than let it go to his head. “There was no looking back for me, although the allure of that sort of an amount was intoxicating, I chose to be zen about it and started wholeheartedly improving my game.”
At these trips in Goa, Kanishk found a mentor in Manoj Singh, who helped him find accommodation during his visits and also guided and staked him in his game. The others to spur Kanishk on were his Manipal companions, Soham Mukherjee and Sahaj Bali.
Kanishk was already facing the dilemma that troubles most of the passionate players, whether to go full-time or not. It was the urging of his mates that got him going.
“I was told by my friends, Soham Mukherjee (a part time player) and Sahaj Bali (full time regular) , both my batch mates from engineering, that only the bravest person can chase their dreams, and the right thing for me to do is to settle down and try my hand at going pro.”
After much mental strife whether to join his father’s business or follow his poker passion, the latter finally won and Kanishk shifted to the newly booming poker fields of Bangalore. His decision was met with the typical reaction from his parents, who found it difficult to accept that a speculative game could be a profession. “You know the Indian mentality! It was a problem initially. They thought I gamble for a living and no one accepted it. Eventually I had to teach them basics of the game and they saw me playing online and making money. Now they are ok with it. But still they don’t consider it as a profession. Things will change I believe eventually,” he adds.
Kanishk went forth to test his mettle at the 100/200 tables at the many new poker rooms in Bangalore and successfully built a bankroll, in the next seven months. Having piled up a decent enough roll to play continuously, Kanishk then moved to Goa, along with pal, Sahaj Singh and settled down to 200/500 games at the Deltin Royale.
After a successful stint that saw him acquire his first car and stability, Kanishk confidently believes that this is his forte, “By this time having grinded out my first car (VW Jetta), stabilizing my bankroll for the big games, playing poker at across national borders like London, Nepal and Sri Lanka and to have settled my score with my past,
I am of the opinion, yes! This game is for me.”
Kanishk believes that there is always a price tag for learning in poker, as he sums it up, “The villain asked me. My immediate response was, “You only paid the seeing price, lessons are extra!”
My poker story and my life story go hand in hand, (pun intended)”
About his greatest poker achievement, Kanishk says, “I’m a cash game player so as of now I haven’t scored big in the tourneys. I made it to the 10k final table at THOS and cashed out min in 1 or 2 other tourneys.
My biggest poker achievement was made the evening I decided to go semi-pro in cash games. I had made a 1.5L call against an opponent in a pot of 2L OOP (out of position) where my hand stood up, which I expected it to, having read into the hand’s nuances.”
Kanishk believes that his MTT game is not yet profitable and hopes to work on this in the future.
Regarding his future poker goals, he is seeking to play bigger stakes and states, “My next big goal would be to move up stakes as much as I can and be playing the really big private games, like the 5L buyin.”
Currently Kanishk is busy grinding online, as well as at private games across the country. His parting words to aspiring players are, “My advice to other budding young guns of poker is that always believe in yourself and your dreams and goals, I have made it, you can too.”