Chatting with the IPC Head Hunter Champion: Prajit Ghambir

Prajit Ghambir started off primarily as an online player who went on to learn and understand the game better till the point where he could pursue it as a sought out profession.  Initially, he played micro-staked home games with friends and family and soon after he found some familiar traits within himself that resonated with the game.  

Gradually, Ghambir started to appear more in the LIVE circuit and went on to win the India Poker Championship (IPC) Head Hunter Title just recently. He plans to play LIVE tournaments more in Goa and soon enough, internationally as well – one of his favorite spots being Macau.  Ghambir advises young players to stay focused and disciplined no matter what.

Please tell us how did you pick up Poker as a career.

It all started off with me realising that I had this level of true passion for the game. From that point on it was about learning and understanding the game better till I was quantifiably good at it and could sustainably pursue it as a profession. However, I wouldn’t characterise my endeavour as a career per se.

A career is a series of jobs that can loosely be grouped together. Poker is a long enough journey for me to focus solely on, and try to develop myself as much as I can. It’s still early days in my journey and I’m excited for what’s next.

And what’s next is better Poker.

Could you tell us about your poker playing during the early days?

Poker for me started off in the form of micro-staked home games with friends and family. At that point no one took those games too seriously and for me it was all about having fun. I wasn’t really concentrating on aspects like ‘game play’ and ‘hand analysis’. It was for the love of the game.

Somewhere along the line though, I found familiar traits about myself in the basic DNA of the game. The more I thought about it, the game became less about betting, calling and shoving and became more about the complex logical decision making that underlies in any game decision we make.

What did you learn initially and the mistakes you used to make? 

That breakaway point in my evolution and learning happened when I decided to study the game and I read my first few books. My first few were by Phil Helmuth, Gus Hansen and Doyle Brunson and a few other online courses which helped me get a realistic view of concepts like equity calculations, pot odds, and hand ranges, which overall helped me to evolve my game further.

That set the foundation for me as a player.

In addition to that, I genuinely owe a lot to the platforms like YouTube. It seems like a small thing but I used to, and continue to, examine Poker as it’s played around the world. Tournaments, Cash Games, interviews with Pros. So I can’t overestimate the value of being able to put my theoretical knowledge in the context of actual gameplay. You can’t learn Tennis by watching it. But with poker – everything is just a theory till it hits the table. That’s why Poker is still considered a game not a sport. That’s been a key aspect of how I’ve developed.

What were the challenges you faced?

At this point in the game, I realise that the challenges of the game do not lie in the dynamics of the game itself. The psychological aspect of the game isn’t talked about enough. For me to bring my mindset under my conscious control was the greatest challenge. Keeping myself off being on Tilt, learning to process a Bad Beat into useful tactics for me to better my game , and staying psychologically healthy over a period of time – those were the things I wrestled with. My challenges were more internal than external. 

What is your game mix ?

I play Texas Hold’em, both cash games and tournaments. Pot Limit Omaha too. And I am excited about new modes of the game which bring new variables to existing theories of the game. Short Deck Poker for instance has really caught my attention recently. 

What is it that made you a better player ? 

It’s a short list. Basically, the basics. I focussed on developing a better understanding of the game over any short term cash-grab playing. Prioritised gaining knowledge through any medium available. And lastly just being persistent and maintaining discipline.

Who are your role models ? In the poker fraternity and otherwise. 

Since I play a lot more tournaments than cash games, I modelled myself after Bryn Kenney, Stephen Chidwick, Justin Bonomo, in that regard. BenCB (RYE Poker) is my go to for online poker. 

These guys are new age with some new tactics and play dynamic poker. There is so much to learn from them.

Outside of poker – it’s an easy call. I see a lot of myself in Connor McGregor. He’s competitive. He has Vision. And he likes to follow that vision with obsessive focus. Plus I love the sport of MMA.

How does your family feel about your choice ?

They’ve always been supportive. They understand that Poker is growing in this country and to be a part of it at this stage and in the future is a positive thing overall. 

What’s your advice to a newcomer in Poker ?

  1. Do the groundwork. Up your knowledge any way you can. Read books, take an online course, whatever is doable in your situation.
  2. Start with low stakes, cash games and some Sit-and-Gos. 
  3. Slowly build your bankroll before moving up to higher stakes.
  4. This is not said enough – Pay a lot of emphasis on bankroll management because this has a direct impact on your psychological state. A good rule of thumb I follow is having 150 buy-in’s in your bankroll of the average tournaments I prefer to play.
  5. Limit the luck factor as much as possible. No one can eliminate it completely. But control what you can. 

Your plans for the live and online space – 

This win will springboard me for bigger and better tournaments. Online poker remains a mainstay for me just because of the variety of tournaments and ease of access to them. But since I’m a bigger fan of the live tournaments, going forward, I’m going to be in Goa more often. And anywhere else, there’s healthy action. 

Prajit Ghambir outlasted 361 entries to ship IPC’s Head Hunter title in Jan 2020.

Any message for our readers ?

Stay focused, Stay disciplined, Keep grinding – no matter what you’re doing.

Proudest Achievement : The next one. 

Live Poker / Online Poker : Live. It suits me better.

Favourite Poker Destination : Goa, by default in India. And Macau, internationally. 

Poker by Day or Poker by Night : Poker by Night. 

Weirdest poker moniker you’ve heard of : Lots of options. None, you can print. I mean, My God. 

Pet Peeve at Poker Tables : This only qualifies for online poker play- where someone goes, “JMD” before shoving their stack preflop. JMD is Jai Mata Di. 

Chatting with the IPC Head Hunter Champion: Prajit Ghambir

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