The freshly minted Asian Poker Tour India champion Amar Mehta drives up the motivation meter this week! On Sunday, the 33-year-old poker reg from Chennai won the ₹1 Crore GTD APT#41 Main Event on PokerBaazi for a personal-best ₹17.50 Lakhs.
While primarily a cash game player, Mehta likes to take his shots in MTTs whenever a premiere MTT series comes along.
Mehta has been working in business consulting for almost 10 years and only recently took a break to focus on his personal life and poker gameplay. The gap seems to have worked wonders, bringing him his career-first APT title and adding an APT Trophy & Championship Ring to his collection.
Expressing his elation of winning the APT Main Event title, Mehta said, “No words to describe that feeling. It feels great. I grinded most of the tournaments in this APT series. Obviously, to win two flagships is a great deal. Personally, for me as well since it is my biggest score. I feel humble and thankful to all poker sites and operators for doing so much. Putting out such great guarantees, etc. To be able to play the game I like, and then to go deep and convert it into a win is a very nice feeling.”
Expanding further, Mehta added, “It’s a big marathon. Back in the day, probably about seven years back, I started out playing at the lowest stakes. I was playing ₹1/₹2 buy-in cash games. From there, I slowly moved up the stakes. Shifting a little to tournaments, shifting back to cash games. Then to come here and have this milestone is a big step for me. It’s just more of the journey that matters. If I see the way I have come up, I could go back and have no regrets. I have done what I could do best. Probably just to convert the score is just a very nice feeling.”
Winning such a prestigious event might look glamourous, but most regs will know the effort, hard work, and dedication that goes into playing for such long hours and holding true to your nerves to ride past the finish line. Recapping the Sunday grind, Mehta surprised us when he claimed it was a pretty swingy day for him.
“This Sunday, I started a little early. Generally, I start a little later during the day, but that day I started early because there were a lot of tournaments and lot of good guarantees. So, I just thought, ‘Let’s start early. Let’s focus and do well.’ When I started, like the first three-four hours, relatively, I was smooth sailing through all the tourneys. I build stacks in most of them. I ran deep in most of them. I was near the FT in a couple of them. All was going good. I was playing well. Doing the right set of moves.”
Sounds like it was a fairytale Sunday, right? No fairytale is complete without some hiccups, and Mehta faced them too.
“Then there was a two-hour period in between; I probably ran the worst ever in my poker career. It was terrible. I busted a lot of tournaments. I lost big flips. I lost a lot of pots where I was ahead. It was just like not a good phase to be in. I was close to just shutting down my Sunday grind.”
But a true hero never backs down from a fight, and neither did Mehta.
“But that’s when your experience, your journey comes into play. So, I had a few tournaments still up. I thought, ‘let me do the best or whatever I can.’ Again, make the right moves. Let’s leave it up to the ‘Poker Gods’ and see what they’ll do. Then slowly and steadily, I was deep in about three or four tournaments. I spun a stack in the APT event and another Spartan (Poker) event as well. I was able to spin stacks in both of them.”
Mehta’s plan to take one step at a time turned out to be the right move.
“Gradually, the first step was to come in the money. I was pretty short as well. But as soon as I was in the money, I was able to get a good stack, like about 30-40 BBs. I think towards the end of the APT event, I found some really good spots. I had like one or two bluffs that went through pretty well. Some good flips that I won. Some good hands where I was able to stack off my opponents. That’s when I converted my stack to a 50-60 BB stack.”
Patience and perseverance always pay, and Mehta indeed reaped the rewards.
“I was the chip leader. Then once I was the chip leader, I was pretty confident. You know I thought that I should be able to sail through this journey. In the final three tables, I was in the top five. So, I was playing pretty well, and it was pretty fine. When there were about six or seven remaining, I got involved in a hand with Rubin (Labroo), like I think, heads-up. And I lost my entire stack. So, I was once again down to 5-6 BBs. But again, the ‘Poker Gods’ heard me. I got some good pots; I was able to spin it up. And heads-up, I had a bit of a deficit when it started. It was up-down. I was mostly down. But then, there was a big flip that converted everything my way, and this time I got through.”
Sunday might have been one of the highlights of Mehta’s poker career so far, but his journey to this moment began some time ago.
“About eight-nine years back. I was in the corporate world. I had a couple of friends who used to play poker. So, some random Christmas or New Year’s night, they said let’s play a game. I said, ‘Okay, let’s play.’ And I did not know anything at all. I just played the basics, and I lost some money. That’s usual for beginners. But that triggered me. I started liking the game. So, I thought that let me just learn more about it. That’s where my entire journey started. I started playing ₹1/₹2 cash games on Adda52 back in the day. In five-six months, I moved to ₹40/₹100 buy-ins. I spun up a bankroll of about ₹30,000-₹40,000 just playing those ₹100 games. Then I slowly started moving up stakes. Then there was an entire movement when I shifted to playing tournaments. Only tournaments. But then, with work, tournaments were very taxing. It’s just not something you can do in the long term. That’s when I decided to evaluate cash again. I used to play cash for fun.”
With ₹2.36 Crores in online MTT winnings and ₹78.89 Lakhs in corresponding profits, Mehta is doing reasonably well in tournaments. However, Mehta is clear that cash games are his main forte. “To be honest, I think I am going to stick to cash because cash allows me to maintain more balance in life.”
Talking about his poker achievements, Mehta credits most of his success to Sahil Chutani’s poker stable, BTR Coaching. “I used to grind cash games the last six months. I used to do things on my own. I wasn’t so much of a theory person ever. But ever since I joined BTR Coaching, I learned the intricacies of cash games, some spots that you generally take, some board textures that you target, etc. That probably has been my biggest achievement in the last six months. My graph for cash games has been doing pretty well. I have been doing 10/11 BBs per ₹100, which I believe is pretty decent for cash games. So, that is something that I am truly thankful and grateful for.”
Staying true to his cash game preference, Mehta’s poker goals center around enhancing his cash game skills. “My immediate goal would be to build my cash game expertise.” And when he takes a break, he would also like to give live poker a shot. “Once in a while, when I feel like I have had too much of online action, I’d probably like to explore the live scene as well.”
Spoken like a true champion, Amar Mehta looks destined for more success. For us, he is one of those players we’ll be following closely!