Women in Poker – Ishita Arora

Women in Poker – Ishita Arora
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  • Attreyee Khasnabis June 22, 2022

Welcome back to another edition of ‘Women in Poker!’ Our guest this week is the bubbly and vivacious Ishita Arora! Those who followed Poker Sports League Season 4 would have seen Arora’s phenomenal performance as part of the Deccan Aces (the runner-up team) that ultimately led to her winning the ‘Woman of the Series’ title.

The 21-year-old, a national-level chess player, was introduced to poker by a friend in August last year, and there has been no looking back since then. Arora has been consistently crushing it in the low-to-mid stakes, having won titles such as Nano DST (Adda52), Daily Night SPRINT (PokerBaazi), and Micro Millions-01 Afternoon on Stars (PokerStars India), and UVS #38 (Spartan Poker).

Currently a fourth-year B.Com LLB student at the University Institute Of Legal Studies (UILS) (Punjab University), Arora is a happy-go-lucky girl who truly enjoys playing poker and has nothing but good things to say about the domestic poker circuit.

Ishita Arora
Ishita Arora


In the short time that Arora has been playing, she has already made quite a mark for herself. Not only has she live-streamed with poker diva Muskan Sethi, but she is being mentored by PokerGuru Ambassador Ashish Ahuja, who, like her, is also a Chandigarh-based lawyer-turned-poker pro. Arora isn’t a pro yet, but given that she has already amassed ₹19.92 Lakhs in lifetime winnings (₹9.62 Lakhs in cumulative profits) if she continues to maintain her dedication to learning and improving her craft, she will undoubtedly be ready to turn pro soon!

Inshita Arora - Total Profit Graph
Inshita Arora – Total Profit Graph


Here is Ishita Arora’s poker story, as narrated by her!


Introduction to Poker

Arora’s poker journey started like many others with Zynga. Despite hitting a slight road bump early on, Arora still kept going.

“I was introduced to poker by a friend. We used to play chess. I am a national-level chess player. We just started playing on Zynga. He was like, ‘chal chal, let’s play.’ So, roz raat ko, we used to play for half an hour on Zynga. After that, I was interested in the game. So, we played on PokerStars (India) for the freeroll. Made a very chotu – ₹2,000-₹3,000 – bankroll. From there, we invested some money in Natural8 for Honeymoon Missions. There were these missions that were going on that you do one step every day. At the end of 30 days, you get a reward based on what you are doing. From Natural8, I made my initial bankroll. I started playing here and there, but I failed miserably. But I like really wanted to know the game.”


Live-Streaming With Muskan Sethi

Not many up-and-coming players can say that their first live poker stream was with a well-known pro, but Arora is among those fortunate few. She made her live poker streaming debut with Muskan Sethi. While it was a fun tête-à-tête, it was during this live stream that she learned about her future mentor.

“So, I got into a community. I streamed for them. My first stream was with Muskan Sethi, and it was great. We didn’t talk about poker at all. We talked about our lives. How fun it was. Just everything. Like casual ‘haan bhai kya chal raha hai’ types. From there, I got to know about Ashish (Ahuja) sir.”


Poker Guru – Ashish Ahuja

Arora was all praises for her mentor, Ashish Ahuja.

Ashish Ahuja
Ashish Ahuja


“He is my mentor. Bohot badiya banda hai yaar. He is the person who has helped me. Guided me through poker, like what to do and what not to do. He has introduced me to everybody. What I am, most of it goes to him.”


Poker Sports League – A Life-Changing Experience

Making it into a national-level poker league like the PSL would be an excellent opportunity for any newbie, and Arora made the most of it. By the end of the series, she had amassed 10,925 points and was named the ‘Woman Player of the Series.’

Ishita Arora receiving the PSL Trophy
Ishita Arora receiving the PSL Trophy


“PSL ka draft aaya toh I applied for it. And I was selected for the draft. I was really nervous. I used to make charts every day. Ki okay kaun kaun ladkiyan hai. Kaun kaun captain hai. Kaun kisko select kar sakta hai. Mera chance hai ke nahi. I used to make charts of these things every day. Then I got selected for PSL. I played my PSL ka first MTT and ship kar diya. Toh that was great. Vinayak Bajaj ko bohot tang kiya, so sorry Vinakyak. PSL live was amazing.”

She even gave a shoutout to her Deccan Aces caption Kunal Patni for selecting her in the draft.

Kunal Patni
Kunal Patni


Recalling her mother’s reaction when she learned of her selection in the PSL, she said, “I applied for the PSL, and I was selected for the draft. I was really nervous, but thankfully I got selected. In fact, my mother started crying. We were actually sitting in a restaurant and watching the auction, and when we heard the news, she started crying.”

She even commended the Gujarat Falcons team for having more than the required number of women players. “I applaud Gujarat Falcon for having as many girls as they did in the team. It was really good to have as many girls as we had, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be a part of any other team.”

Talking about winning the ‘Woman of the Series’ title, she said, “Unexpected! So, SnG Live and Feature Table mera tha. And I was so nervous that I punched a guy from my time kehke mujhe bohot darr lag raha hai kuch toh karna padhega. And I punched him before going for the Feature Table. But it was really fun. Everybody was super nice. I still remember Goonjan Mall was staring at me, and I started laughing. Ke ye kya ho raha hai. PSL was amazing. And the feeling was amazing. Obviously, I was ‘Woman of the Series.’ It was great!”


Views on the Poker Community

Arora’s PSL experience allowed her to meet many top names from the domestic circuit. PokerGuru Ambassador Mithun Mahesh was her team mentor, and she even became good friends with Shuchi Chamaria and Young Gun Kanchan Sharma.

Mithun Mahesh
Mithun Mahesh


“The poker community overall is very good. Very humble. Everybody is down to earth. PSL mein Mithun (Mahesh) was my mentor. And he has been mentoring me ever since. Guiding me through everything. I met a lot of new people at PSL. I met Shuchi (Chamaria). She has been super helpful. She has been like a sister to me; I am not kidding. Kanchan Sharma has been helping me through a few things. It has been amazing. PSL se bada aur kuch nahi ho sakta tha for me. For exposure and for meeting all these people.”


Poker For Life

Talking about her future plans, Arora shared, “I play full-time. Abhi, I will be taking a break for a month or so for my exams in college. After that, I will continue playing full-time.”

When asked if she would consider taking the legal route for a future career since she is studying law, Arora confidently replied, “POKER! Aur kuch nahi karna!”

As for playing live tournaments, she said, “I don’t think so. Anyway, I don’t have the bankroll to play live tournaments. After one big cash, it would be stupid of me to play live. But I would love to play live tournaments when I have the bankroll.”


Similarities Between Chess & Poker

Being a national-level chess player, Arora discussed the similarities between both games.

“They are both mind sports. You have to think about what the other person could do in both. The main aspect of poker and chess is ‘if this person would do this, we can do this.’ Sabse zyada main cheez dono ki yehi similar hai. But poker is a more dynamic game.”


Importance of Having a Poker Circle

Many players have talked about having a poker circle and how that has helped them improve their gameplay.

Elaborating on the importance of having a close-knit poker group, Arora said, “Not having a poker circle; actually, you do not get to know your mistakes. The way you get to know with your poker circle. People tell me. Mujhe samjhate hain. Daant bhi padh jaati hai kabhi kabhi. Jab tak daant nahi padhti I don’t think kisiko samjh aata hai. And that is the way to go.”


Getting More Women To Play Poker

Sharing her views on how more women can be encouraged to play poker, Arora shared, “There are male chauvinist people in this community. Not a lot, to be honest. As far as I have seen. They could change that. Putting out more stories about women who are already there. Like that you guys are already doing. So, kudos!”


Learning & Improving

Arora talked about her need to improve her poker gameplay, saying, “My skill level needs a lot of improvement. I know when I am wrong, but a lot of the time, I don’t know when I am wrong. So, need to improve that. Need to study more. Bohot zyada. Putting more volume, but that’s a given.”


Family Support

Seldom have we come across a family where the support for pursuing one’s passion is so freely given and accepted. Arora is among the lucky few. While her family has given her a one-year deadline to prove that she can sustain herself playing poker, she believes that they are already happy with the progress that she has made.

“I have a deadline, till the year-end given by my family. Ki, you know you have to prove that you can sustain yourself in this game. And they are pretty happy with it till now. To be honest, mummy, papa, and my sister have been amazing. Kuch nahi bolte yaar. Bohot pyare log hain. They support literally everything that I do. Otherwise, also, I have had very little restriction or restraint from my family in anything. They have been really happy that I am doing something of my own. They have given me a year to prove, but I guess they are already super happy with PSL and everything. And coming towards durr ki family, let’s put it this way, the people that I care about are happy with it.”


Words of Advice

“Trust the process,” Arora said. “It takes a long time for everything. You may be doing everything, and things may still not go your way. Log soch rahe honge ye kya bol rahi hai ‘Trust the process.’ But what I mean is that even the little things count. And have fun yaar! Itna stress nahi lena.”


We wish Ishita Arora all the best and hope to see her realize her potential in the game she truly loves!

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