Conversing with the poker professional, Chirag Sodha as he narrates his journey through his own words.
Hailing from Bangalore and currently living in Goa, Chirag Sodha has been grabbing major spotlight in the poker circuit, especially in the year 2019! He has previously won several tournaments and titles and has played over both at the LIVE and online felts impeccably.
Here, we sit in conversation with the professional itself and talk about his journey through the struggles, failures and achievements in poker.
Hi Chirag! Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
I studied at a boarding school in Coimbatore and did my undergrad in London, although I’m originally from Bangalore where I spent most of my years. I was always into sports, loved the outdoors! I played a lot of cricket and football back in the day and was even selected to play in the Tamil Nadu cricket team. Over the years, I slowly lost touch with these sports, and saw ‘fewer physical activities’ like snooker and poker becoming a more prominent part of my life. I think looking back there isn’t much I’d want to change; I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and it’s been a brilliant journey thus far.
Also Read : Chirag Sodha Successfully Combines
How did you start with your poker journey? And when did you first pick up the game?
Well, poker came along when I first went to university in London – I was 18 then. I experienced the game first-hand at the casinos where a bunch of us would go play cash games, and I remember this part of my life so clearly. Seeing the same guys winning at poker over and over again made me realise that there is more to this game than meets the eye, and that’s where it all began.
My interest for poker only grew from this point on, because the more I learnt the more I was intrigued. To be honest though, I never played poker very seriously up until about 3 years ago – and since then it’s been more like a job – something that requires commitment and dedication. Moving beyond the ‘fun’ element that poker brought with it took me a while, but there is no doubt that to be successful at this game in the long run, it has to be treated with complete seriousness.
Congratulations on your recent wins at the LIVE and online felts, do tell us the secret behind your consistency over the last month and your thoughts on MTTs in general?
Thank you so much for the appreciation! Well there’s no secret really – the key is to build a strong foundation by understanding and studying the game – and to keep making the right decisions over and over again. This is actually a very tricky part of the game because very often you can do everything right and still end up losing – for months at end even, this gives rise to a very testing time where a player finds himself asking a lot of basic questions about this career choice. As hard as it may be to believe or digest, this part of the game – called variance, is unavoidable. It’s going to happen at some point, no matter who you are or how good you may be at the game. It is after all a hard way to make an easy living!
Ideally, a player should follow good bankroll management – although I know that most players in India including myself don’t really do this. This would ensure that even your losing sessions – the prolonged ones in particular – don’t pinch you too much, allowing you to continue playing in a good mind space and zone. If you hang in there long enough and make the right decisions consistently, you’ll be fine!
Another extremely important aspect of the game which goes a long way is player profiling and understanding your table. Know your opponents, study their patterns and always be ready to adapt. That’s the beauty of this game – there is no standard line of play that will be followed by every player. Each approaches a hand differently – and especially online – studying and noting down these patterns is essential – it’s all about information.
As we all know, you are the backbone of PokerBaazi LIVE in Casino Pride 2, how do you manage as a poker player and maintaining the live games as well?
The launch of PokerBaazi LIVE in Casino Pride 2, Goa, couldn’t have come at a better time. Indian poker is booming online, and live poker is not too far behind. We’ve already seen multiple WSOP bracelets, plenty of titles and tons of achievements by Indian players world over – and the coming year is all set to see live poker in India rise to another level. That’s why being at the heart of it all – PokerBaazi LIVE – is THE place to be right now. I love poker, which makes work fun and interesting, and we have been coming out with some pretty cool promotions and events to give players something to look forward to.
For me it’s been key to balance work and poker. Now that I work at the LIVE room, I do tend to jump in to a game every now and then, but work’s always going to come first. We have the Baazi Poker Tour Jan’20 Edition just around the corner so it’s going to be a busy and exciting month for us here as we get set for what’s going to be a massive series from the 2nd-14th of January – In fact I’m hoping to see you all there!
What made you switch from full time poker playing to working for the poker industry?
I think I like the idea of keeping poker as a secondary job/income. I much prefer to have a steady stable income that comes in the form of the work I am doing with LIVE, and since I love poker, I also love my job! Playing poker will always be a passion, and I don’t see that changing ever. I did rely on poker solely as a source of income for many years, and although I did relatively well, I felt that it was taking up too much of my time – time which I would much rather invest in friends and family. Of course it comes down to each individual, and I just chose not to continue playing that much and mix things up a little.
What kind of routine do you maintain while playing your favourite tournaments online/live?
Ideally plenty of rest is essential, since poker players do put in long hours at the tables – and its worse when it comes to online thanks to screen time. Off late I haven’t been getting too much time, shuffling between work and the events that I would like to play on a weekly basis. Now I try to keep it simple, I choose a couple of tournaments that I would like to play every week and try and plan my work around that. Often I do end up missing these events due to work or other commitments, but that’s actually okay because there are just so many big events in India today that it doesn’t really matter if you miss a couple – there’s no shortage of opportunities.
According to you, what are the pros and cons of being a part of this industry?
Since I love poker – the biggest pro for me would be doing a job that I love – something that is extremely important in any field of work. You also get to meet tons of interesting people and get to travel a lot too. Bringing poker to the masses is probably the biggest challenge that we face in this industry today, bridging the gap and establishing poker as a game of skill as opposed to gambling. I’ve seen a huge shift in perception off late and more and more people are actually understanding this fact which is great news for any poker lover in India – player or operator.
Any pros that would motivate newbies to play or players in switching to work for the industry?
Poker is a hard game to learn, harder to master. There are so many dynamics, and it’s a ‘smart person’s game’ in a way. The more you learn the more it appeals to you – it’s a war of minds. The satisfaction that you get when you make strategic plays or outplay a tough opponent is incredible. At the same time, money is involved, and they say it’s ‘a way of keeping the score’ – so if you’re losing in this game, your pretty much losing money – straight up. It would take a little getting used to, but at the end of the day since it is a skill game – if done right it was be extremely rewarding. I’d advice any new player to understand exactly what this game means and how it will and can impact your life before jumping in to it.
Lastly, what are your future plans in the poker industry?
I’m actually looking forward to the next couple of years because I believe the game is going to continue booming and growing in India. From an industry standpoint I believe that more and more players have started playing, and people in general have also started accepting the sport more. It is categorized as a mind sport – much like chess and backgammon. I hope to continue to be a part of this industry and play a role in bridging the gaps further and eventually bringing poker to the limelight where it can get the respect and recognition that it deserves.
My personal plans are of course to ship some biggies, and fast!