The biggest online poker tournament in Indian history came to an end on 19th April and Abhishek ‘Human_AI’ Maheshwari’s historic 1 crore win was not the only talking point from the 5CR. GTD EndBoss! Neel ‘Worm33’ Joshi finished as the runner up and cashed for a massive 65,02,000 which was not a small feat to achieve.
The 22 year old has a chemical engineering degree from BITS Pilani. He has been playing poker at the biggest tournaments since 2018. He qualified for Day 2 of the EndBoss through Flight 1A for which he got a ticket by using the deposit code.
Neel ran well throughout the tournament except for a couple of marginal hands and of course, the final hand where he flopped top pair but got called off by a better kicker. He even turned a gutshot straight draw but that wasn’t good enough as the river was a brick. Although he didn’t win the EndBoss, the name Worm33 will go down in history of online poker in India and the Indian poker community.
We Got Into A Conversation With The Man Himself. Here is The Transcript
Congratulations on the EndBoss runner up finish, Neel. Tell us something about how you started playing poker?
Like most people, I started off in college playing small stakes cash games with friends.
Tell us about your early days in poker. What kind of mistakes did you make? How was your mindset towards the game?
In my early days, I used to play cash games. Didn’t think much in terms of ranges, but tried putting people on exact hands. Seeing Daniel Negreanu do it in some of the videos was pretty cool, but soon learnt that it’s probably not the most efficient way to go about it.
What were some specific areas of the game that you had a problem dealing with and what were some of the challenges you faced?
About 1.5 years ago, when I was transitioning from a rec to a reg, I was working (interning) at a firm full time in a chemical laboratory. This 6 month period was instrumental in my development as a poker player. I had over 2 hours of bus commute daily. I was preparing for exams like CAT/GRE and appeared for those as well. It was hard to find time to grind properly, but I still put in whatever volume I could, maybe 3 days a week. My social life had taken a hit, I had put on weight, and I wasn’t even doing that well at poker. I kept at it nonetheless. I remember listening to Elliot Roe’s podcasts during my bus commute, and feeling inspired listening to all the sickos talk about their journeys and their mindsets. In August 2018, I won a tournament on PokerBaazi for a cool 12.5L, which was huge for me. It gave me the confidence to pursue the game more seriously, and didn’t look back ever since
What type of games do you like to play in poker? What are your preferences?
MTTs make for like 99% of my volume. Sometimes punt in PLO/NL cash but that’s pretty much it.
What made you a better player?
I’ve always wondered what are the things which make a poker player successful how much of it can be learnt through practice and studying, and how much is an art which comes naturally to some people. So far my consensus is that it’s a mix of both, with studying having significantly more weightage. There’s another aspect to it – you can be a player with great skill/understanding of the game, but still not be successful over the long run, because of mental game/discipline leaks. Playing within your bankroll, not letting your decisions be affected by tilt, being smart about managing your money, tax planning etc. are all essential skills which might be overlooked.
Do you have any role models from the poker industry? Who is your favourite poker player?
Jason Koon, and Phil Galfond. Besides being absolute beasts at the game, their attitude outside the game is what makes them my role models. Classy, having great work ethic, unquestionable integrity, and just fun guys as well.
Important question. How’s your family dynamic? Poker is not something that sits well with Indian parents.
My family is fiercely supportive. Poker still has a lot of social stigma, and my parents have received a lot of flak from society/relatives for being okay with me playing poker. While my parents never explicitly said it, I know that in their hearts, they would have preferred that I go down the academia/job route. But despite that, they supported me relentlessly, and always had my back. It must’ve been quite the parenting challenge. It’s very hard for non-poker people to understand the variance which is involved, and grasp the fact that immediate results are out of your control.
Have you made any plans about your next move? On the live or online playing felts?
I plan to keep putting in volume online, and even plan to stream a bit in the near future.
Tell us about some of the crucial moments for you during the EndBoss?
I made Day 2 in the first flight, with a ticket I’d gotten by using a deposit code. Of course I ran like fire throughout, which is necessary to run deep in big field events like this.
10 Who were some of the competitors you knew about?
Romit Advani was a known pro who was definitely a tough competitor. I saw a bunch of other top guys who ran deep – Nishant Sharma, Ashish Munot, Anmol Mehta, Gaurav Sood. Definitely will be a few others which I’m missing.
11 Any crucial hand you’d like to mention during the final table?
Haha I gave a nice bad beat to Romit when the final 3 were remaining, shout out to him for staying classy about it.
Some Rapid Fire:
Live Poker or Online Poker?
Favourite Live poker destination. Domestic or International:
Poker by Day or Poker at Night?
Biggest pet peeve at a poker table?
Berating dealers, asking fellow players for freerolls or “goodies”!
This was Neel ‘Worm33’ Joshi! We wish him the best of luck and good health in the coming months of his new life.
For more poker player interviews and poker tournaments in India, keep reading PokerShots!