Kshitij Kucheria, 23, having completed his engineering with a specialisation in Information Technology (IT) from the University of Pune, started his professional poker journey by taking part in the Poker Sports League (PSL), the first professional poker league in India. He was selected through a qualifying process and ended up winning the league with the Goan Nuts in his first full season as a professional poker player.
Kucheria had participated in the last Baazi Poker Tour (BPT) edition as well, in which he got busted during the early stages of the tournament. He came back even stronger with a 1st place finish in the BPT 15K Big Bounty Event. His other notable cashes include bubbling the final table of the 2019 World Poker Tour (WPT) India 35K SuperStack for ₹1.27 Lakhs and finishing 8th in the $300 NLHE NagaWorld SuperStack Freezeout Classic at WPT Cambodia for ₹90,137.
Speaking about his recent win, Kucheria outlasted 193 entries in BPT 15K Big Bounty event and defeated Deepanshi Tomar in the heads-up battle. He was crowned with the title and a cash prize of ₹3,92,700 while Tomar collected ₹3,39,700 for the second place finish. The one day event saw a prizepool of ₹17,56,300 and a bounty prizepool of ₹9,65,000. Top 24 collected a piece of this prizepool with a min-cash of ₹19,500.
We sat down with Kshitij himself and questioned him about his mentality and his initial days in the world of Poker. Read on to learn about one of the top poker talents in our country:
Please tell us how you ended up deciding that you want to get into the poker industry?
As of now, I haven’t decided to make poker a full-time career. During my college days, I started out playing poker as a hobby, but soon that changed when I shipped the Poker Sports League title with the Goan Nuts. The chance to play with and against some of the most experienced players in the country provided me with the right amount of exposure, confidence, learning and a decent starting bankroll as well. I’m still exploring my options as to what I want to do in the future, keeping in mind that poker is currently a part-time activity which I partake in. Travelling to different countries and cities gives me immense pleasure and poker has certainly helped me in that regard as well. Now that I have become a tiny part of the poker industry, I do not intend to give up and might consider making it a full-time thing.
Tell us about how you started playing Poker?
I started playing Zynga Poker on Facebook, like most people do, in college. I have a wild obsession with card games and when I stumbled on to poker, I wanted to learn more about how the game works. Once I put my mind into it, I loved it! I was still in college and didn’t have enough money to play and even when I did, I only played micro stakes online. My love and intrigue towards the game only increased when I travelled from Pune to Mumbai to play the PSL qualifiers. They were free and gave me an opportunity to meet like-minded people. I went to Bangalore for solely the same reason as well. I had put a lot of effort and time into the game already that 3 months later, I ended up earning a 10th place finish in the PSL Online Qualifier Leaderboard. This resulted in me being selected by the Goan Nuts and then there was no turning back.
What mistakes did you make in your early days and if you had any preconceived notions about the game itself?
One of the initial mistakes was, I didn’t approach the game with an open mind and kind of treated it as pure gambling. For instance, I was reluctant to play ₹10 buy-in tournaments because I felt that putting money into something like this was a bad thing. It was such a hypocritical thing to do because I used to play Chess tournaments for ₹5,000.
What were some of the challenges that you faced?
It’s always hard when you’re starting out in any field. First and foremost, it was a challenge for me to manage my studies with the constant pressure to keep learning about poker; to find good books or people to teach me more about poker; trying to convince people that poker is more than just putting money into the middle and hoping for the best; maintaining discipline while playing; not tilting. In your mind you always believe that you’ve started to get the hang of it. I tried to be as patient as I could be while laddering up the learning curve. Of course, dealing with anxiety and scepticism is always a problem for anyone who wants to make it into this field. The most frustrating thing for me was doing all this without having any support.
What are your preferences when it comes to types of tournaments; live or online?
I prefer only Multi Table Tournaments (MTT’s) and Live poker over online games.
What all things would you give credit to that have made you a better player?
I made it a point to put emphasis on constantly studying and learning more about the game every step of the way. Proper bankroll management is also something which I consider to be one of the most important factors of being a better player. Patience, practice as well as watching videos of players who are at top of the tree.
Who are your role models?
Not to sound arrogant, but I do not have any role models. I believe that everyone has their own journey and you can learn something from everyone. It’s about your own personal choices and decisions where you filter out information between the right and the wrong.
How does your family feel about your poker life?
My family has been really supportive. They even came to watch me live at the PSL Season 2. They do not mind me making my own decisions about how I want to shape my life, but of course, they want me to do something through which I am able to sustain myself and not do something that is against the law.
What would your advice be to a newcomer?
Respect and trust the people who have more experience and exposure in the industry and the game itself. It’s not always right to try and reinvent the wheel. It is very important to know why you are playing the game. Whether it is for fun, gambling or passion. I do not advocate anyone to keep playing the game if you’re not passionate about it and try to get better at it everyday. Results will start to get better automatically if you have the right approach and attitude. Also, this is not a gambling game and I’d recommend people to try something else if they want to gamble their money. Do not enter the industry without a good and proper understanding of the game if you want to make a living out of it. Always try to invest and reinvest your winnings into learning more about the game. Learn to adjust and deal with Variance. Do not be overconfident or get demotivated after a bad day at the tables.
What are your plans for the live and online scene?
I do not plan to miss any domestic live tournament series in Goa for sure. I might consider travelling internationally for a tax-free series. I do not have anything special planned in terms of online games. I play on weekends and have some specific tournaments that I play. Other than that, everyday is Grind, Eat, Sleep and Repeat.
Would you like to say something to our readers?
I could not have imagined myself to be in this position without the help of the community. The community has always been a place where I have found the necessary advice and assistance I needed to improve my game. In that light, I would like to say that I am always available for anyone who wants to learn or know about any aspect of the game. Just drop me a message on my Facebook. Keep learning and goodluck at the tables.
We had a quick rapid fire round with Kshitiij, here are the excerpts;
Even after this title, I would say the final table finish in WPT Cambodia, representing India would probably be the top moment for me.
Live or Online Poker?
Live Poker any day.
Favourite Live Poker Destination? Domestic or International.
In India, there’s nothing other than Goa. Internationally, I haven’t been anywhere other than Cambodia so…
Poker by day or Poker at night?
Weirdest Poker Moniker you have ever heard?
Best Pet Peeve at the table?
Favourie Poker App?
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