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PokerGuru brings you the poker story of yet another talented player, who may have escaped the limelight, but is equally deserving of mention for his skill and persistence.
We speak of 29-year old Rahul Melwani, a well-known name in the domestic poker circuit. On the sheer basis of consistency and results throughout, Rahul is definitely up among the Top 10 MTT players in the country.
Bengaluru-based Rahul has three wins, two in IPS events and one in an APT event, besides more than 20 final tables. Coming from a family in retail, Rahul has completed his graduation in Economics. In fact, it was while pursuing higher studies in Birmingham that he was introduced to poker at the age of 19, by his elder brother.
PokerGuru caught up with the player and here we reproduce the exchange for our readers.
Starting at the beginning, Rahul recalls that he first started “playing really low stakes mtts (20 or 50 pound buy-in tournaments in the local casinos in Birmingham) and also low stakes sngs online.”
Going on to explain about how he managed his impressive poker resume and whether he did work on his game and what helped him improve…
Rahul declared that hours put in, analysis and experience made a great difference. He says, “I think that the number of hours I’ve put into the game and the experience I’ve gained from playing a ton of hands has definitely been the most helpful. I also feel that critically analyzing my mistakes after every tournament or cash game session has helped me improve since I started playing.”
Speaking about self-help books, he adds, “I don’t really read too much about the game, which could be a bad thing, but I think that first-hand experience is a lot more educative than instructional books and videos. I believe that a good understanding of the fundamentals and an ability to adapt to different situations in the game are the most essential requirements.”
Rahul is one of those, who has been in the circuit since the early days. PokerGuru asked him about the different stages experienced in the last 5-6 years of his poker journey. Rahul recounts that,“I started out playing tournaments ever since the first IPC in India but at that time it was mainly recreational. I think that was my initiation into the game in India.”
He admitted the confidence he gained from his deep runs in several events, which spurred him to go pro. He says, “Making it to the final table of the first main event I played and few more deep runs in other tournaments along with decent cash game success substantiated my belief in being able to do it full time.”
Rahul became a full-time pro in 2011, but soon veered towards cash games for sustenance. He explained, “It was in 2011 that I decided to play full time but by 2012 I started focusing more on cash games since I feel it’s more sustainable than live tournaments in India. Tournaments involve higher variance and there are more opportunities to play cash games on regular basis. Cash games require a different skill set than tournaments and I really enjoy the dynamics of it.”
While every player dreams of making it to WSOP, Rahul ensured that dream came true early on, even as he handled the imbalances of a poker player’s life. He states, “I went through upswings and downswings for the next couple of years and in 2013 I decided to put my entire bankroll on the line to go to Vegas for a month to play the World Series.”
Since the past two years, Rahul has been playing domestically and adds, “From 2013 till date I’ve travelled quite a bit mainly playing cash games in and around India and the occasional tournament whenever I get the opportunity.”
Rahul was not seen as much in 2014-15, PokerGuru asked him about this gap and he clarified that, “Actually I’ve never taken a sabbatical from Poker. I may have played relatively less last year but that’s something I’m hoping to make up for this year. I play more cash games than tournaments and that’s also why it may seem like I was ‘missing’.”
We also asked Rahul to give us his views on the progress of poker in India and his views of its future in the country…
He told us,“I consider myself fortunate to be able to witness the growth from a first person perspective. From playing 60-70 player main events in 2010 to playing 200-250 player main events in 2015 (record field sizes, we are even ahead of the APT in Manila).”
Recalling the situation years ago and the difference today, he observes, “Back in 2007 it would be hard sometimes to even get enough people to play a full ring cash game and today most cities in India have multiple poker rooms with multiple tables running all day. It’s also amazing to see the number of online players currently in India and the big scores some of them have got in the past few years.”
Rahul is bullish about poker in India and declares, “Considering this growth, I believe India is on the verge of becoming the next poker hub in Asia and in the next 5-10 years poker can potentially become a very big sport in India.”
With so much experience in his pocket, PokerGuru asked Rahul to share interesting incidents over the past few years with our readers. He admits that the exciting moments were at WSOP and told us, “There have been way too many! But I think the most memorable experience for me has to be the World Series in 2013. It was just breathtaking to be at the Mecca of poker. I played quite a few tournaments over a whole month but the icing on the cake was being able to win a satellite seat into the main event after being down to just a few antes towards the late stages. My main event run unfortunately, wasn’t as sweet as I busted at the end of day 1 after my aces got cracked by tens (we were all in pre-flop and he spiked a ten on the river.) Nevertheless, that’s something that’ll stay vivid in my memories and inspire me to keep trying. The WSOP was truly an eye-opening experience.”
Talking about his goals and plans for 2015, Rahul elaborated, “No specific goals to be honest. I just plan to travel and play cash games for now. It would definitely be great to be back at the World Series this year but I haven’t made any concrete plans yet.”
In conclusion, the player chose to be non-committal about the future, though set about playing poker for now and retorted,“Apart from poker, I also have other dreams and aspirations, which I will pursue when I’m done playing full time. So I’ll save my parting words for that day! :)”
We wish Rahul all the best in his endeavors and look forward to many more poker exploits from him.