We are back with the second edition of our brand-new video property, #ChampionsSpeak! Making an appearance in this feature is the latest poker sensation Vaibhav Temani, who defied overwhelming odds to win the IOPC JULY 2021 The Crown on Spartan Poker for a career-best ₹58.02 Lakhs (cumulative) on Monday, the single-biggest score won on the virtual domestic felts this year!
The highlight of this career-defining victory was how the 33-year-old overcame a 1:10 chip deficit heads-up against arguably India`s best poker player Aditya Agarwal.
Talking about his win, Temani elatedly said, “Feels very satisfying. Honestly, I was not expecting it. While I was going for it, expectations and reality can be very different in such big events with such big fields. So, I am really grateful that it worked out this time. It feels good.”
While this win is Temani`s best finish yet, his online resume sports several other standout scores, including PokerBaazi’s #PMVS #Main Event title, which he won in December 2019.
Sharing his poker journey, the IIM Lucknow alumni Temani revealed, “It was the usual like playing with friends in college. I was in my second year of my MBA. Two of my friends used to play poker, and that’s how I got introduced to the game. Once I came to Bengaluru and start working here, I started playing online. This was back in 2016. I was playing on some international sites. Around this time, I also found Spartan Poker. So, the first two to three years, I was pretty much losing but also improving on the side. But not studying very seriously. I was also playing lots of cash games by then. A lot of PLO games. By 2018-19, I started to transition to MTTs. I had some initial scores. While it was not much, it was enough to keep me going. So, my poker journey has been like that. Up and down. So, The Crown was obviously one of the biggest tournaments that I have played.”
Speaking of his smashing run in the IOPC The Crown, there is no doubt that his final table performance, especially in the heads-up against Agarwal, was fearless. When asked about his strategy for the final table, the Bengaluru-based player said, “There were a trillion thoughts in my mind. I just looked up those players, and I found out that they were outstanding players. That is how it’s supposed to be when you reach the final table of such a big event, you’ll find all the best players there. So, I was a little intimidated at first. Going by my past records, I didn’t rate myself too highly. But that also meant that I had nothing to lose. I had a decent stack to start with. I knew that I could do well if I had the right attitude and kept a good mental presence in the game. Of course, there were a lot of nerves also. On Monday, I was preparing all morning. I was trying to get in the right mindset. I was running some ICMs here and there to see if a certain kind of spot happens; what should I do. But honestly, until I was not fifth or sixth, I was very jittery and nervous, which was reflected in my play. I am not very proud of my initial gameplay on that FT. But once things settled down. I felt like I belonged here, and I can play.”
Talking about his mindset when he started the heads-up against Aditya Agarwal, he said, “When I made the heads-up, I was like, ‘I have secured second.’ I had like a 1:10 chip deficit to Yennefer’s chip lead. I thought even if I bust second, which was 99% the possibility, it would not be bad. So, maybe it was time that I really try and go for that 1% chance. I got an early double up which obviously helped, and gradually as the game progressed, I got more confident. After that, I was just zoned in. I was just playing poker. I wasn’t thinking about anything else. I didn’t think about my opponent. I know Yennefer has a huge reputation. But I wasn’t thinking about any of that stuff. I was just thinking about playing and getting the best out of that situation. Thankfully, that worked.”
Temani also mentions Goonjan Mall & Anant Purohit as two players he has always received helpful advice from. “To be honest, I don’t have many folks with whom I regularly talk poker. But there are a couple of people to whom I reach out from time to time to ask for advice. They are Goonjan Mall and Anant Purohit. These two people are really good. Like they will never say no if you need help. I want to give a shoutout to both of them. They are the real jewels of Indian poker in terms of accessibility and helping out budding poker players like me.”