In today’s #WomeninPoker feature, we are joined by the charming and delightful Ashwini Ganglani. The 28-year-old choreographer has all the right moves both on the dance floor and the poker felts!
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Ashwini has been trotting the globe and had spent most of her childhood in Dubai and various parts of India. Having a penchant for dance right from a young age, Ashwini decided to launch her own dance studio straight after completing her A-levels.
Looking back, she thoughtfully shares, “I always knew that I wanted to be a hip-hop choreographer. I was dead set on it. So, I convinced my parents that if you have the kind of money to put into an international degree, you might as well put that into a dance studio, and I’ll make money off that right away. I don’t want to waste my years studying when I know what I want to do. Dance was always a big part of my life growing up. The moment I got out of school, I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to pursue.”
Unbelievable but true, Ashwini was only 15 years when she was involved in various projects from the Hollywood, Telegu, and Kannada movie industries that she pursued until she turned 18. She was also a part of several flash mob campaigns for brands like Visa, MasterCard, Zara, etc.
Turning 18, she launched her first dance studio that turned out to be a success. She single-handedly worked at the studio, getting a lot of college-going students to sign up. She even had tied up with nine Singapore-based dance studios in an exchange program. She eventually made her way back to Dubai due to some health-related issues, but nothing could hinder her passion for dance.
On her return to Dubai in 2015 was when she was introduced to poker; she recalls, “It was extremely recreational. I just got fascinated by a couple of my friends with who I would play pool. I would set aside all my winnings and steadily built a bankroll. The winnings would just circle back into poker. Then I started traveling and playing more games. I felt like I have a knack for it. The more I started studying it, the more I was in love with it.”
Over time and through practice, Ashwini got so good at poker that she could have been mistaken for a pro player!
Narrating an interesting tale of events, she tells us, “All the people that had taught me poker have quit the game as most of them went into massive debt. On the other hand, I just kept wanting to climb the professional ladder. I didn’t even know I was doing that until it happened.”
A run-in with the Spartan Group CEO Amin Rozani, who was then operating the poker room at Deltin Royale, led to an invite to attend the India Poker Championship, where Ashwini went on to record the only live cash of her poker career to date.
Ashwini, who had started out as a cash game player, eventually transitioned into a tournament player after her experience at the IPC. After a brief break from the game, she reunited with poker a little before the pandemic hit and soon after ventured onto the online felts.
Talking about how her online experience has been, she says, “A few months before COVID hit, I hit the online felts, and I decided that I am not going to invest a single penny into the game. Whatever I have is going to be made out of pure profit. I am going to freeroll it. I went on to The Spartan Poker and started playing the Freerolls. Won about three of them and then played some OFCs and tripled it from there. Then I started playing the small tournaments and gradually built my bankroll of about ₹2 Lakhs! By the time last year’s IOPC rolled in, I had a bankroll of about ₹2-₹2.10 Lakhs. But since then, unfortunately, I had a weird downswing from there that I just haven’t been able to recover from.”
Ashwini believes that she still has a lot to learn about online poker. She steadily pulled back her playing hours and is only concentrating on the small-stakes tourneys currently.
As far as her career aspirations are concerned, Ashwini intends to make a meaningful contribution to the field of therapy. As for poker, she is determined to eventually tour the international circuit and cherish the experience.
With such spirit and determination, we can hardly wait for Ashwini to make her mark in the game!