Meherzad Munsaf

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WSOP 2022: Anik Ajmera, Aditya Sushant, Paawan Bansal & Neel Joshi Add to Team India’s Tally on Day 20   

The 53rd annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) has completed 20 of its 51-day scheduled run, and Team India seems to be going strong and steadily adding to the scorecard. Three bracelets were awarded on Sunday to Pedro Bromfman (Event #38: $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw Championship), Ramsey Stovall (Event #41: $1,000 Super Bounty No-Limit Hold’em), and Matt “PmpknHead” Szymaszek (Online Event #4: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Max).

Anik Ajmera‘s run in Event #39: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed was the standout performance from the Indian contingent on June 19. The Bengaluru-based player picked up his career-first WSOP score, finishing 25th for $12,143 (~₹9.45 Lakhs). Israel’s Leonid Yanovski (5,000,000) bagged the end-of-day chip lead among 16 survivors.

Event #37: $1,500 MILLIONAIRE MAKER No-Limit Hold’em has always been a major attraction for Indians, and several players from the Indian contingent qualified for Day 2. Even though no Indian was able to make the cut for Day 3, 11 players from the team scored in the event, namely, Aditya Sushant (316th for $5,816 ~ ₹4.54 Lakhs), Paawan Bansal (359th for $5,165 ~ ₹4.04 Lakhs), Neel Joshi (494th for $4,172 ~₹3.26 Lakhs), Nipun Java (528th for $4,172 ~ ₹3.26 Lakhs), Ankit Ahuja (536th for $4,172 ~ ₹3.26 Lakhs), PokerGuru Ambassador Kartik Ved (592nd for $3,795 ~ ₹2.97 Lakhs), Kunal Patni (717th for $3,218 ~ ₹2.51 Lakhs), Kunal Punjwani (752nd for $3,218 ~ ₹2.51 Lakhs), Meherzad Munsaf (1,002nd for $2,400 ~ ₹1.88 Lakhs), Muskan Sethi (1,083rd for $2,400 ~ ₹1.88 Lakhs), and Dilip Ravindran (1,182nd for $2,400 ~ ₹1.88 Lakhs).

Aditya Sushant
Aditya Sushant


The MILLIONAIRE MAKER logged in a massive 7,962 entries from two starting flights, with about 1,700 players making it to Day 2. The field was further whittled down with just 232 runners advancing to Day 3, headlined by Tom Thomas (2,875,000).

Chad Eveslage (1,131,000) bagged the chip lead on Day 2 of Event #40: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship with 15 players remaining.

Day 1 of Event #42: $100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em saw Japan’s Masashi Oya (2,765,000) bag the most enormous stack among the 23 survivors from a starting field of 52 entries. With late registration open till the start of Day 2, several players might fire a second bullet, or others might join in.

Now that we have the tournament part of the series out of the way, let’s talk about some of the crazy shenanigans happening at the series.

A week ago, PokerStars Cultural Ambassador Neymar Jr. made his playing debut at the 2022 WSOP when he entered Event #26: $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship. While he busted the event early, he picked up his first-ever WSOP cash in Event #41: $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold’em, where he finished 49th for $3,959.

Neymar Jr.
Neymar Jr.


After the money bubble burst in Event #41 and Neymar was assured his career-first WSOP score, he excitedly went to the rail to talk to his friends, including PokerStars Team Pro Andre Akkari. Since players were supposed to remain at their seats, a security member, diligent in their duty and unaware that Neymar Jr. was in action, strolled up and said, “Sorry guys, I gotta kick you out, you can’t stay here.” “I’m playing,” Neymar Jr. deadpanned and returned to his seat. It goes on to show that no matter how big you get, there will always be people who don’t know you.

Another bizarre turn of events took place in Event #38: $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw Championship, when Phil Hellmuth went on a break only to discover his chips had been swiped by defending champion Farzad Bonyadi, who wasn’t at fault in the incident.

Phil Hellmuth
Phil Hellmuth


During the break, as the tournament dwindled down to 21 players, the staff broke the fourth table, merging them into three tables. When Hellmuth returned, he noticed his chips were gone and that they had somehow ended up in Bonyadi’s possession.

Immediately after the situation arose, the WSOP staff approached the table to investigate. There was no doubt that Hellmuth had a stack in play before leaving the table, but the exact size of his stack wasn’t clear. The surveillance camera was reviewed to determine the size of Hellmuth’s stack, which the 16-time bracelet winner estimated was more than 130,000.

Sharing his side of the story, Hellmuth said, “We went on break, and I’m kind of smart; I knew it was going to take them a while, so I went to the bathroom, but I left my chips in a rack and then Scott Seiver said leave Phil’s chips in a rack. And then one of the other players took them and put them in his stack.”

“Phil, it was an accident,” Chino Rheem jumped in to say.

“Yeah, it was a complete accident,” Hellmuth agreed with Rheem. “He’s a class guy; he would never do it intentionally. Stuff happens.”

Upon further review, about 20 minutes later, the WSOP staff confirmed that Hellmuth had 135,000 chips and removed them from Bonyadi’s stack. It’s unclear why Hellmuth didn’t bring his rack of chips to his new table before going on break. Additionally, it’s unknown how Bonyadi’s stack got accidentally merged with Hellmuth’s.


Event #37: $1,500 MILLIONAIRE MAKER No-Limit Hold’em – Day 2

Day 2 of Event #37: $1,500 MILLIONAIRE MAKER No-Limit Hold’em is now in the books. A starting field of 1,700 returning players dwindled to just 232 survivors by the time the bags were brought out.

While no Indians made it through to Day 3, eleven of our ‘desi’ players did secure cashes, including Aditya Sushant (316th for $5,816), Paawan Bansal (359th for $5,165), Neel Joshi (494th for $4,172), Nipun Java (528th for $4,172), Ankit Ahuja (536th for $4,172), PokerGuru Ambassador Kartik Ved (592nd for $3,795), Kunal Patni (717th for $3,218), Kunal Punjwani (752nd for $3,218), Meherzad Munsaf (1,002nd for $2,400), Muskan Sethi (1,083rd for $2,400), and Dilip Ravindran (1,182nd for $2,400).

Tom Thomas (2,875,000) holds the chip lead heading into Day 3, while Paul Ahn (2,650,000), Seamus Cahill (2,560,000), Raul Martinez (2,370,000) and Maxime Chilaud (2,250,000) carry the other top stacks.

The MILLIONAIRE MAKER has always been a crowd favorite, and unsurprisingly this year’s tourney also attracted a massive field of 7,962 entries across two starting flights, generating a $10,627,935 prize pool. As the event’s name suggests, the eventual winner will walk away a Millionaire, taking home a hefty $1,125,189 payday.

The remaining 232 runners will return for Day 3 at 10 AM (PDT) on June 20.

Tom Thomas
Tom Thomas


Top 10 Chip Counts at the End of Day 2

  1. Tom Thomas – 2,875,000
  2. Paul Ahn – 2,650,000
  3. Seamus Cahill – 2,560,000
  4. Raul Martinez – 2,370,000
  5. Maxime Chilaud – 2,250,000
  6. Harsukhpaul Sangha – 2,200,000
  7. Chen-An Lin – 2,145,000
  8. Tyler Gaston – 2,140,000
  9. Thibault Renard – 1,990,000
  10. Alain Bauer – 1,950,000


Event #39: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed – Day 2

Sixteen players bagged and headed home after Day 2 of Event #39: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed. From the starting field of 719 entries, only 156 returned for Day 2.

The sole Indian reported in the event, Anik Ajmera, made Day 2 with the second highest stack of 641,500. Unfortunately, he couldn’t last through the day and his excellent run ended at 25th place, earning him a $12,143 (~₹9.45 Lakhs) payday. This was Ajmera’s career-first WSOP score, and we hope to see more of him in the coming days.

Anik Ajmera
Anik Ajmera


Israel’s Leonid Yanovski ended the day with a commanding chip lead of 5,000,000, sure to give him a considerable advantage to pave his way to the final five, which will be the primary goal of the 16 players returning on Day 3.

However, the road to victory won’t be easy for Yanovski as he is set to face two recent runner-up finishers in Pot Limit Omaha events. Jamey Hendrickson (3,660,000), who finished second in Event #30: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed, and Fabian Brandes (2,060,000), who came second in Event #19: $25,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed, are both hot contenders hungry to lock in their maiden WSOP bracelets.

Amongst the former WSOP bracelet winners who advanced to Day 2, we have Ukraine’s Andriy Lyubovetskiy (3,180,000), Jan-Peter Jachtmann (1,130,000), and short-stacked Jason DeWitt (580,000).

The 719-entry field created a whopping $1,919,730 prize pool. All remaining 16 players have assured themselves a minimum $18,494 payout, while the winner will collect the $371,358 top prize and the coveted gold bracelet.

The remaining players will return to Bally’s Event Center at 2 PM (PDT) on June 20, where they will resume play until only five players are left.

Leonid Yanovski
Leonid Yanovski


End of Day 2 Chip Counts

  1. Leonid Yanovski – 5,000,000
  2. Jamey Hendrickson – 3,660,000
  3. Jason Stockfish – 3,320,000
  4. Andriy Lyubovetskiy – 3,180,000
  5. Sean Winter – 2,590,000
  6. Fabian Brandes – 2,060,000
  7. Ferenc Deak – 1,855,000
  8. Thomas Morrison – 1,545,000
  9. Jan-Peter Jachtmann – 1,130,000
  10. Amirhossein Shayesteh – 1,000,000
  11. Botond Barat – 910,000
  12. Benjamin Francisco – 900,000
  13. Grzegorz Derkowski – 625,000
  14. Jason DeWitt – 520,000
  15. Andrei Mitsiuk – 485,000
  16. Brian Brunner – 480,000


Event #40: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship – Day 2

Day 2 of Event #40: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship had 75 players returning to their seats for a shot at winning the bracelet, and only 15 among them could keep their bracelet hopes alive.

The Event #8: $25,000 High Roller champion Chad Eveslage (1,131,000) bagged the chip lead, while Shaun Deeb (1,017,000), Eric Kurtzman (873,000), David Funkhouser (805,000), and Long Tran (720,000) are close on his coattails.

The day’s highlight was the hand-for-hand play during the money bubble that lasted for 45 hands. Dominik Baud money bubbled the tournament leaving the remaining 21 players in the money.

A slew of notables fell out after reaching the money, including Brandon Shack-Harris (18th for $16,358), Chris Tryba (19th for $16,358), Perry Friedman (20th for $16,358), and Day 1 chip leader Peter Gelencser (21st for $16,358).

Yuval Bronshtein (16th for $17,892) was the day’s last elimination.

The 15 finalists have locked in at least $17,892, with the eventual champion guaranteed $324,174 and the WSOP bracelet.

Day 3 will begin at 3 PM (PDT) on June 20 at the Bally’s Event Center.

Chad Eveslage
Chad Eveslage


End of Day 2 Chip Counts

  1. Chad Eveslage – 1,131,000
  2. Shaun Deeb – 1,017,000
  3. Eric Kurtzman – 873,000
  4. David Funkhouser – 805,000
  5. Long Tran – 720,000
  6. Daniel Zack – 568,000
  7. Todd Brunson – 540,000
  8. Felipe Ramos – 530,000
  9. Brian Hastings – 483,000
  10. Eric Wasserson – 428,000
  11. Ziya Rahim – 408,000
  12. John Monnette – 271,000
  13. Steven Loube – 198,000
  14. PJ Cha – 188,000
  15. Daniel Negreanu – 162,000


Event #42: $100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em – Day 1

The penultimate High Roller tournament of the series, Event #42: $100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em, hosted its opening day on June 19. The action-packed Day 1 saw 52 entries grabbing a seat, and after 12 levels of play, only 23 advanced to Day 2.

Headlining the survivors is Japan’s Masashi Oya (2,765,000). Oya put forward a great game eliminating defending champion Michael Addamo and Jake Schindler on his way to the top.

The 2021 WSOP Main Event Champion Koray Aldemir (2,390,000), GGPoker ambassador Jason Koon (2,230,000), ten-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey (1,410,000), and Dan Smith (1,560,000) featured among the top 10 stacks of the day.

Though not in the top ten, the list of notables advancing to Day 2 also includes Nick Petrangelo, Stephen Chidwick, David Peters, and Chance Kornuth.

Players were allowed to re-enter once with the entry cost of $100,000, and Michael Addamo, Jake Schindler, Chris Brewer, and Andrew Lichtenberger blew through both bullets without much success.

Other notables who entered but failed to make Day 2 include Erik Seidel, Dario Sammartino, and Adrian Mateos, all of whom have a chance to re-enter before the start of play on Day 2.

The remaining players will begin playing at noon (PDT) on June 20. The plan is to play down to the final five players, who will then return on Day 3 for a shot at the WSOP gold bracelet.

End of the Day 1 Chip Counts

  1. Masashi Oya – 2,765,000
  2. Aleksejs Ponakovs – 2,490,000
  3. Koray Aldemir – 390,000
  4. Benjamin Heath – 2,275,000
  5. Jason Koon – 2,230,000
  6. Gregory Jensen – 2,150,000
  7. Seth Davies – 1,580,000
  8. Dan Smith – 1,560,000
  9. Christoph Vogelsang – 1,450,000
  10. Phil Ivey – 1,410,000
  11. Henrik Hecklen – 1,265,000
  12. Eric Worre – 1,260,000 Paris
  13. Nick Petrangelo – 1,200,000
  14. Michael Moncek – 975,000
  15. Matthew Gonzales – 850,000
  16. Talal Shakerchi – 835,000
  17. Taylor von Kriegenbergh – 825,000
  18. Shannon Shorr – 770,000
  19. Brekstyn Schutten – 750,000
  20. Stephen Chidwick – 610,000
  21. David Peters – 515,000
  22. Chance Kornuth – 375,000
  23. Darren Elias – 275,000


Content & Images Courtesy: PokerGO, PokerNews & WSOP

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For the Love of the Game Ft. Meherzad Munsaf

And we are back with the fourth edition of our special feature – ‘For the Love of the Game.’ By now, readers know that this editorial feature is our way of celebrating the poker journey of players who have been a part of the Indian poker circuit since the very beginning. This space is dedicated to players who have an undying passion for the game that transcends monetary gains! And this time, our guest is Meherzad Munsaf (cover image)!

A self-proclaimed recreational player, Munsaf is possibly one of the most large-hearted poker lovers of the industry. Many in the industry genuinely wish for the game to flourish in the country and are or have worked towards achieving that goal; however, what sets Munsaf apart is that he is possibly among the very few who believe in whole-heartedly supporting up-and-coming talent.

The 43-year old’s poker journey began in London back in 1998. This was the beginning of a lifelong passion superseding all others. In 2011, his friend and veteran pro Jasven Saigal introduced him to live poker tournaments, and there has been no looking back for him since. Today, Munsaf is a prominent presence in all major live tournaments held in India. Even though he is not a poker pro, Munsaf’s passion for live poker has taken him to several poker destinations like Vietnam and the Philippines.

Currently, Munsaf is a Director in his father’s company, M Corp Realty & Financial Consultants, and aspires to pursue poker professionally someday after he hands over his professional responsibilities to his nephew.

He’s also perhaps one of the very few old-timers who hasn’t been involved with the industry’s operational side. That said, he has staked players on many occasions, even at the risk of getting his fingers burned.

While Munsaf does find the lack of a regulatory body monitoring the industry quite alarming, he also believes that the game can teach many positive virtues to players, such as patience and mental strength.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane with Munsaf.


Life Before Poker

Munsaf came to Mumbai from Panchgani for his education but soon joined a boarding school since his father frequently traveled. Later, he completed his schooling at Heritage School of Hotel Management in Agra and eventually returned to Mumbai to figure out what he wanted to do with his life next.

Meherzad Munsaf With His Father
Meherzad Munsaf With His Father


“I was not sure at that very moment of time of what I wanted to do, and dad wanted me to get into the family business. At that time, he was into real estate, venture capital, and renting properties. Around 2000, I joined the Heritage School of Business Management and Hotel Management. I just kept on adding degrees. I was still not sure about what I’m going to do.”

Since his father wanted him to join his family business, Munsaf got himself an MBA degree from SP Jain in 2005. “I joined the publicity side of the company, and we ran the company called Instant Publicity Private Limited. Then finally, in 2012, I joined my dad’s company, which is M Corp. Reality and Financial Consulting.”

The company was engaged in acquiring properties from banks and loan acquisition departments that would seize the properties of people who could not repay their loans. The business soon expanded its operations to the middle-east, covering Bahrain, Dubai, Sharjah, and even Hong Kong. “We would purchase properties like business hotels, corporate and boutique hotels, and commercial premises, refurbish them and rent them out to multinationals.”


Introduction to Poker

Munsaf’s first brush with poker happened in London with a few corporate friends. “We used to play poker with these taxi drivers with fish and chips. It was like a ten to one game, sit and go. I used to play all these fun games, and that’s the time I developed an interest in poker and started playing in casinos.”


He admits he didn’t completely understand the game then, but it still excited him. Soon, he began hopping from one casino to another to get a sense of the game. “As I saw the game develop, I also came to know that my good friend Jasven (Saigal) had become a professional poker player. I was once in Goa, and we connected, and he said, you know, why don’t you come and play a tournament. That tournament was organized by Golden Aces.”

During his early days in poker, Munsaf met many other players. “I went really deep into the game. I was fortunate. I didn’t know anything about poker at that very moment. But obviously, I knew the basics through a little online research. And then I started frequenting Goa, and that is when I got introduced to Philip Sanders, and others like Raju Philip, Jim Ramm, and Deepak Sithlani, and I started playing small cash games. I even used to play at Maddy’s (Madhav Gupta) poker room at Casino Pride, and that’s how I started developing my poker skills.”

This helped him get an insider perspective of the game and the industry. “At that time, it was not big numbers. Poker was a very small community back in 2009-10. That’s when my passion took off. PokerStars was still accessible, and it was a different group of poker players in action. We had pros like Dhruv Dhawan from Delhi. Sameer Rattonsey was one of the guys who won back-to-back tourneys. Obviously, (Aditya) Agarwal was one of the leading guys at that time.”

Apart from poker, Munsaf also loves playing roulette and is hugely passionate about horse races, which his dad introduced him to. In fact, he still remembers the first race that he won through his horse ‘Sailaway’ at the Pune Turf Club who beat the tote favorite ‘Mountain Bear.’


Professionally Pursuing Poker

With more than ₹62 Lakhs in live tournament winnings, including a DPT trophy, and about ₹33 Lakhs in online MTT cashes, Munsaf’s poker resume is quite commendable. But he is candid enough to admit that he is just a recreational player who loves playing live tournaments.

Meherzad Munsaf


“No, I wouldn’t call myself a professional poker player. I would say that I am a recreational poker player because I would never give my dedication and time to poker 24/7, 365 days. But I’ve always made it a point to travel for tourneys. I love to play tournaments – it’s just my passion. Poker is not my bread and butter, but I love the passion of the game. I love the way the industry works. They earn, they struggle, they build it up. That’s how it is!”

He continued: “I have traveled a lot internationally for poker. I’ve been traveling for poker since the inception of the Macau Cup. I have a lot of old poker friends in the industry, internationally too. I’ve got my experience by being there, playing a lot of hands. I’m not much of an online player, it’s not my cup of tea, but live, yes, I do have a lot of experience.

Talking about his other passions, he said: “I love playing roulette. I’m heavily into horse races. I was introduced to horse racing by my dad, and I got into it, but not from a gambling point of view. I have my passion for horses. It makes you learn a lot of things. The way they (horses) have that faith in themselves. They are silent dynamos. They don’t talk, but they have a more powerful sixth sense than any human being. I won my first race straight away in Pune about 5-6 years ago when ‘Sailaway’ had beat the hot favorite ‘Mountain Bear’. It is very close to my heart, and I just follow it. I studied it, and I do handicapping myself. I have many horses as well, in the western circuit and in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.”

While he calls himself a recreational player, he does aspire to turn his passion for poker into a full-time profession sometime in the future. “I see myself wrapping up and consolidating my business and handing it over to my nephew to handle. So, once he takes over, I am good to play poker professionally. There could be more than 90% chances of me playing professionally. For me, it’s more about enjoying my game. It’s more about loving my game, and I’m not here to gamble. I can gamble on roulette, but I can’t gamble on poker.”


Staking Players & Encouraging Budding Talent

Even though Munsaf is one of the Indian poker circuit’s old-timers, unlike all three previous players we have covered in this series, he has never experienced the industry’s operations side. He has, however, staked several players. “I have never ever dabbled with the operations part of the industry, but I have staked a lot of players. I have equivalently thought about starting a staking business, but it was not allowed by my company. They thought that it wouldn’t be good to diversify into something like this. But I wanted to have a professional setup of a staking house and hire a few people. Ultimately, it didn’t get approved by my company, so I had to drop that plan. After that, I thought individually as a sole investor, I would just start staking people and see how it works out.”

Meherzad Munsaf


Explaining why he decided to become a sole investor, Munsaf revealed, “I love buying action of players. I love to see the passion in players, I love to see people with big hopes, big dreams, skills, attributes, and determination, but I don’t like players who just depend on selling action but do not work hard on their game. As I said, I’m an investor who puts my money where my mouth is.”

Discussing how he has refined his staking methods, Munsaf stated, “I don’t stake like anyone and everyone, but there was a time when I did do that. But thanks to the guidance of a few people, I now know whom to stake, what to do, and what not to do. I’ve had some good experiences with players whom I stake, some senior, as well as some young chaps who needed the money. At the same time, I’ve had some bad experiences too, but I’m not a person who goes on public forums and badmouths people.”


Evolution as a Poker Player

Munsaf’s first live score came in 2015 when he final tabled IPC’s ₹30K GTD Main Event Freezeout. He has picked up several more final table finishes since then, but a live title win had always eluded him. He finally got the monkey off his back when he took down the ₹50K GTD DPT Colossus Warm-Up Event in May 2019. He presently has about ₹62.06 Lakhs in live tournament winnings.

Meherzad Munsaf Wins DPT Colossus
Meherzad Munsaf After Winning DPT Colossus Warm-Up Event


He feels that live poker has taught him a lot about the game in general. “I’ve had a couple of deep runs in Vietnam for the APT and Philippines in the past four years. I have had just two or three deep runs in the past few years. DPT, I’ve had a lot of deep runs. My personal poker journey has always been like when I run deep in a tournament, I try to figure out my way. I want to better my gameplay. When I hear about any tournament, I don’t worry about stakes, whatever it is. I just want to go and play it. That’s my passion. I just want to be at the table. That’s how much I love my live poker. I feel live poker is more about encouraging people. It’s more about showing people.”

“Live poker has taught me to be slower. It has taught me various hands, various beats, several things. It’s more about your mindset, how you stay strong and not get frustrated, and it’s more about how you control your temperamental issues.”


Shifting to Online Poker During COVID-19 Lockdown

It is a known fact that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, live poker across the world had come to a standstill. India was no different. Like many, Munsaf has dearly missed the live poker action. “I miss my live poker a lot. There are options to travel abroad, but obviously, I cannot because of family restrictions and other problems involving home. So, I decided to play big events, whichever possible, online. I started exploring games on GGPoker and now play a lot on that site. I have started playing a lot of cash on GGPoker, and it’s been a good experience. But still, I would not call myself an online player.”

“But online is getting more interesting, and it’s teaching me a lot about the different styles of playing. As of now, I sit out at home, and because I’m taking work from home, I do indulge in a lot of online play in the night.”


Development of Poker in India

Munsaf has seen the poker boom in India up close and opined that there’s a lot of scope for media and poker brands to grow the game. “PokerGuru has come up a long way in terms of developing the game. Getting the right news to the right people has helped immensely in the development of the game. Online poker sites have done a great job, but I have like diplomatic statements for that. They’ve done a good job, and also, at the same time, I don’t think they should encourage people to play poker who are students because I don’t think students should be encouraged to play poker. They should focus more on completing their education, then taking a chance on what they want to do.”

Meherzad Munsaf


He even shared some experiences he had with some of the well-known regs of the circuit. “I remember Sharad Rao when I was on the IPC final table. At that time, he was just a simple guy who was just playing poker and winning. But now Sharad Rao has really gotten into the game. He got into a complete expansion of his game, his study, and he’s done something great for the game. He’s always helpful towards a lot of people.”

“So, a few pros like Dhaval Mudgal and Kunal Patni, they have been doing something good for the game. They’ve always been encouraging to newbies, and they’ve been getting some good stuff for the players. I think Abhishek (Goindi) is doing a great job by hosting these boot camps. The way they are passionate about their stuff, their games, their teachings, and online coaching, it’s so heartening to see. I think that boot camp is a big revolution which is going to take the game to great heights.”


Issues Plaguing Poker in the Country

The domestic poker industry has faced many hurdles over the years. Sharing his views on the matter, Munsaf elaborated, “To be honest, with the current scenario and governmental regulations, things have been going a little haywire here and there. I don’t think poker can grow as a sport. It can keep developing in India. It has huge potential to grow in the country. But it also depends on the operators, government, and depends on many other factors of how we need to save the sport. We need to get a governing body for the mind sport that will give proper answers to some of the burning questions plaguing the industry. I know there are many cases related to poker currently filed in the courts and that many people are fighting to get it legalized. We have to be careful and have to take remedial steps to save the sport in India, especially with this government.”

Munsaf observed that many newcomers don’t understand that poker is not like teen patti or rummy, mainly due to misleading advertising and social media. “Due to misleading advertising and social media, young players do not understand that poker is not like teen patti or rummy. They actually don’t even know what poker truly is. There needs to be an organization that can reach out to such players to guide them on the right path. What Indian players need is an online training poker school. They need the right kind of exposure.”

“The mentality that poker is gambling will never change in India because it is being portrayed like that by government officials. I feel like no matter how many years you take, they are not going to break the case in Gujarat or anywhere by saying it’s a game of skill. I think reaching out to the small towns is basically through a lot of word of mouth is the way to go,” Munsaf said regarding the masses accepting poker as a game of skill.

Despite the grievances that Munsaf has with the current state of the poker industry, he still believes that poker has many positive aspects. “The good aspects is that the sport is growing and it should grow in a healthy way. By encouraging and helping people and not just allowing people to just sit and gamble, we, too, can contribute to ensuring the game’s healthy growth. I feel the good side of poker is it enhances you it stabilizes your mental strength. It makes you strong in your decision. It helps you to stay focused.”

Talking about things that can be done to help in the industry’s progress, Munsaf suggested, “There should be group discussions. PokerGuru should start group, PG programs live. They should get players and have some discussions. You have to see the stability in this industry. If there is no stability in this industry, you’re not going to achieve anything.”


Poker Aspirations

“My poker aspiration is to support and encourage upcoming poker players who are really serious about the game,” says Munsaf. He explains that while he may not be able to offer to coach budding talent, he can guide them in the right direction.

Meherzad Munsaf


He also aspires to better his own gameplay. “It’s just that you have to believe in yourself. We have to show that magic by learning something new. And you have to learn by yourself again and again. If you do not know how to stop your three-letter word called ego and be grounded, then you can never progress in anything in life.”

“So, basically, my dream is to help some outstanding players who will learn but honestly, the way the industry is going right now, I have taken a back step,” he added.

In conclusion, he had some wise words to share with the upcoming generation of poker enthusiasts, “I would just like to say that prioritize your education over poker. Get yourself educated. Let poker be a passion, don’t gamble on poker. Save your bankroll. Saving is very essential, and just support your family, love your family, work with them. Stay strong and move forward.”

A true lover of the game, Munsaf’s astute observations of the plight of the poker industry and desire to promote young talent is remarkable. We wish him all best and hope to see him on the live felts soon!

Daily Majors: Jimmy George, Meherzad Munsaf, Amit Tejura & Sumit Sapra Dominate the Friday Flagships

The country may have entered its 11th day of the 21-day lockdown, but it was business as usual on the domestic online sites yesterday. In fact, we’ve been witnessing a massive spike in turnouts these last 10 days, and Friday was no different.

The biggest draw of the day was Spartan Poker’s The Elite ₹50 Lakhs GTD that saw its guarantee boosted from ₹40 Lakhs to ₹50 Lakhs. The tourney attracted 575 hopefuls (274 unique, 118 re-entries, and 183 rebuys), collecting a colossal prize pool of ₹57.50 Lakhs. As expected, the final table was a reg-fest with seasoned pros like Sahil’ Variance’ Agarwal (2nd for ₹7.07 Lakhs), Arsh ‘BigggTymeR’ Grover (3rd for ₹5.11 Lakhs), Aditya ‘Yennefer’ Agarwal (4th for ₹4.13 Lakhs) and Young Gun Gaurav ‘mozzie17’ Sood (5th for ₹3.27 Lakhs) – to name only a few. It the end, it was Jimmy ‘Jabberwocky’ George who took down the title. George is a regular on Spartan Poker with numerous titles to his names, some of which include the Sunday SuperStack, 5 For 5, and the SSS Main Event. He booked a seven-figure profit last night, winning ₹11.15 Lakhs after beating Sahil’ Variance’ Agarwal heads-up.

Another Friday special at Spartan Poker, the TGIF ₹15 Lakhs GTD, gathered a packed field of 1,224 entries, generating a guarantee-crushing ₹18.36 Lakhs prize pool. Amit’ ZombieFish’ Tejura captured the top prize of ₹3.01 Lakhs in the tourney after defeating ‘CYCLONE1121’ (runner-up for ₹2.59 Lakhs) heads-up.

The PokerBaazi Monthly Value Series (PMVS) is on the home stretch now, and the most prominent tourney on the Friday schedule was the PMVS #13 Fri-Yay ₹10 Lakhs GTD. With 395 entries, the tournament did well to accrue a ₹11.85 Lakhs prize pool. Well known reg Sumit’ boronyx’ Sapra trounced the competition and beat his heads-up rival, PokerGuru Ambassador Jayjit’ england’ Ray, to win ₹2.48 Lakhs in prize money. Ray collected ₹1.74 Lakhs for his runner-up finish.

Also part of the ongoing series was the PMVS #14 ₹6 Lakhs GTD where 352 runners made for a prize pool of ₹7 Lakhs. Suraj’ SurajRathi’ Rathi ran past the competition and his heads-up rival Monish’ monish1965’ Kumar (runner-up for ₹1.03 Lakhs) to clinch the title and the ₹1.47 Lakhs first-place cash prize.

The Adda52 Online Poker Series (AOPS) that began on April 2 is another high-octane series that is pulling in the crowds. There were a whopping six big-ticket tourneys that played out on the site on Friday, and headlining them all was the AOPS Whale ₹25 Lakhs GTD. The tourney registered 565 entries (293 unique players and 272 re-entries). With 63 places paid, it was Ravinder wormholeArikeri who walked away with a top-heavy ₹9.05 Lakhs. Arikeri squared off with Meherzad’ sailaway’ Munsaf in the heads-up play. Munsaf may have lost out on the title, but a runner-up finish fetched him ₹5.27 Lakhs in prize money.

Incidentally, Young Gun Arsh Grover, who had finished third in The Elite, final tabled the Whale as well, finishing seventh for ₹1.05 Lakhs.

Another flagship tourney, the Mega Suits ₹60 Lakhs GTD, hit the Adda52 client last night. Day 1A logged in 401 entries (256 unique and 145 re-entries), and only 48 among them could make the cut for Day 2. Advancing with the most massive stack was online reg Goonjan’ gmtesting’ Mall (362,186). Following Mall in the chip counts were ‘vatsal20’ (290,301) and ‘pooltime741’ (202,021). While Vikram’ swingtrader’ Ved Batra (197,736) and PokerGuru Ambassador Laksh ‘BoomTilt23’ Pal Singh (186,533) were others who bagged above-average stacks. There are two more starting flights yet to play out before Day 2 on Sunday.

The Uppercut 6-Max MAGIC Edition ₹10 Lakhs GTD on PokerStars India attracted 353 entries (192 unique and 161 re-entries), making for a ₹14.12 Lakhs prize pool. Online reg Armaan’ armaan007111’ Kochhar came up against ‘999AykA999’ in the heads-up play, but it was the latter that prevailed and won ₹1.94 Lakhs (₹1,05,923 in prize money, and ₹88,258 in bounties). Kochhar pocketed ₹1.47 Lakhs (₹1,05,923 in prize money, and ₹41,102 in bounties) for his runner-up finish.

The other big Friday winners were:

PlayerPrize AmountEventPoker Site
Ujjwal 'Mr_Robot' Narwal₹1.81 LakhsSummit Mini ₹7.5 Lakhs GTD PokerBaazi
CopyNinja₹1.49 LakhsPMVS #7 ₹6 Lakhs GTDPokerBaazi
DangerDaddy₹1.40 LakhsAOPS Falcon ₹5 Lakhs GTDAdda52
samiksett₹1.30 LakhsAOPS Warm Up ₹3 Lakhs GTDAdda52
dontcare₹1.05 LakhsMonster Stack ₹6 Lakhs GTDSpartan Poker
Aravind 'BenDingBuLLets' Raju₹1.04 LakhsTID #4 - Take It Down ₹4 Lakhs GTD9stacks
pinnug1₹93,473Thursday Flash ₹6 Lakhs GTD Spartan Poker
Kabir 'desiphoenix' Uppal₹85,414PMVS #10 KO ₹3 Lakhs GTD PokerBaazi
Srihari 'bangbang999' Bang₹83,296PMVS #6 8-Max ₹3 Lakhs GTD PokerBaazi
ingloriousbasterds₹60,000Unstoppable ₹2.5 Lakhs GTD (Boost RE)Spartan Poker
ingloriousbasterds₹59,405Ultimate PLO ₹2.75 Lakhs GTDSpartan Poker
Sandeep 'effuno007' Varma RS₹50,441The Classic ₹2 Lakhs GTDPokerStars India
Ajit 'ace_bob' Singh Arora₹26,620Warrior Arena ₹1.2 Lakhs GTD - Poker Dangal


Mega Suits Day 1A