BENGALURU: Three-and-a-half years back, Madan Kumar was like any other Bengalurean working in the corporate sector. He, however, had a longstanding passion for poker, which he decided to pursue full-time.
Today, Madan is one of the top poker players in the country. People often perceive poker to be all about the good life, and see its players as playboys judging by the image the Dan Bilzerians and Ben Afflecks of the world have created. Madan, on the other hand, is very cautious. “I didn’t jump into playing full-time suddenly. For the most part, I would play for a few hours, three to four days a week, in clubs or online rooms. It always depended on my work schedule. I wouldn’t get a chance to play often. After a while, it became unsustainable, and I finally made the switch,” he says.
For players who want to get into the game full-time, here’s some advice. “You always need to have a decent bank roll.” When asked to compare his old life to what it is now, he says, “At my day job, I do not lose money. In poker, there are wins and losses. So If you ask me which is better, I would say that my day job was definitely better. However, poker is my passion. The returns and are also good,” he says, without spilling his income details.
Madan has participated in a number of tournaments, both national and international, such as the Indian Poker Championship, the Asian Poker Tour in Macau and the Mecca for all poker players — the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. It has the highest prize money of any tournament in the world — $220 Million. Madan also played in the Poker Super League or PSL, which started this year. “Although we did not do that well in the PSL, it was a very enlightening experience,” he says.
Abhishek Goindi, another professional poker player from the city, started playing when he was 17-years-old, and became a pro at just 20. “It looks quite glamorous from the outside, but it‘s hard making a living. It teaches you a lot. Funnily enough, what you learn on poker tables can be used in your day-to-day life. There‘s a big element of psychology.” He interacted with CE from the US, where he is preparing for the World Series of Poker. Abhishek also played in the PSL as the team captain of the Punjab team.
There are a number of poker players from India who are doing well. Aditya Sushant and another Indian-American player, recently won gold bracelets (equivalent to gold trophies) and earnings worth around ` 1 crore at the World Series of Poker. Raghav Bansal, another player, is presently the second highest ranked Indian in world rankings, and a regular at the Asian Poker Tour in Macau.