In the recent months, India’s fastest growing online poker site Spartan Poker has launched a number of terrific promotions which not only allow players to make big scores but also allow them to travel to foreign destinations. Take for instance, Pranay Kapoor winning his way to Las Vegas courtesy his victory in the Gladiator VIP Race back in March while Jagdeep Singh who won a week long all expense paid trip for 2 to Greece.
Now this club will feature one more in 23 year Akash Shekhar who on Sunday night won a Main Event package to the Asian Poker Tour’s Philipines II series in the Filipino capital city of Manila. Along with the Main Event seat worth $2,200, Shekhar also gets hotel stay and return flight tickets! The Gurgaon-based player is goes by the name ‘Anarchytect’ at Spartan Poker which is also a clever little word play on his profession, that of an architect. Having completed his undergrad degree in the field, the ‘soon to officially be an architect’ Shekhar, like many young Indians deeply passionate about the sport of poker, has put career on hiatus while he pursues his poker aspirations. In an email interview with Gutshot, Akash Shekhar speaks about his start in the game and what he is looking forward on his first international trip for poker…
How did you start on your poker journey? When did you first pick up the game?
I have always had a knack for all games involving strategy as well as card games from a very young age. Being the younger of two brothers I developed a very competitive attitude early in life and at the same time as it is with most younger siblings became very comfortable with losing and failure. So it was actually my brother who first taught me poker when I was in high school and caught him playing on Zynga. Unfortunately it was only years later in 2014 that I found out about online real money poker. Till that point I wasn’t even aware of the fact that such a thing existed and was completely legal. This is till date the biggest regret of my life as i wish i would’ve come across this sooner. Nonetheless I was late to the party so had a lot of catching up to do.
When did you start playing poker for real money?
I made my first deposit on PokerStars and loaded up a few 1.50$ SNGs from my home in New Delhi ready to become an overnight millionaire like every other poker first timer and obviously within a few hours my PokerStars cashier was Busto. I realized there’s more to poker than the home games I played with friends or with Grandmoms and kids on Zynga. So I bought my first piece of poker literature, Doyle Brunson’s ‘Super System’ and got back to the online felt. It took 3-4 more deposits and going bust before I cracked the game. Shortly after I moved to my hometown Bangalore for a 6 month internship. It was there I found out that live poker is legal and poker clubs existed all over the city. I walked into one of them and it’s safe to say that i never left. From there poker became my main focus and since the Indian poker boom with flagship sites like Spartan Poker and PokerBaazi leading the way I became a full time cash game grinder.
How does it feel to win such a package? Is this your biggest win online?
It feels great to be flying internationally for a poker tournament series. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time. Biggest win online, yes and no. Since I’m primarily a cash game player it’s not too often I play tournaments so yes the 2.2L package is the biggest tournament win by far. However it isn’t bigger than the biggest pot I’ve won, also courtesy of Spartan Poker.
Have you travelled abroad to play poker? What about India
No, this would be my first trip abroad for poker. I don’t play live in the 3-4 regular poker games in Delhi because that would not be legal nor am I a very well known regular in these circuits, obviously. I’ve played live in every club in Bangalore as well but still haven’t checked out the action in Mumbai or Kolkata.
Will you make any special preparations for this trip?
A very important part of poker is taking time off the tables to study the leaks in your game and find ways to improve. This in itself is my biggest leak as I rarely take the time to do this. However with a good run these past 2 weeks both online and live, ending with the APT package win, I’ll be taking 2 weeks off playing just to study up on all aspects of my cash and tournament game as well as live reads.
Are you planning to play only the main event or other side events too?
I’m not yet certain but I’m thinking about a 20 day trip to Manila wherein I’ll be playing the entire APT series along with the main event followed by the APPT series as well. And any time between tournaments either because of an early bust or space in the schedule I’ll be grinding it out at the cash tables.
What is your take on the various promotions which have run on Spartan Poker that you have participated in?
Spartan Poker offers the best and most lucrative promotions every single month. One might think I’m being biased having made so much just from these promotions themselves in the past few months, however that in itself should be an example. These regularly running promotions are a great form of a rakeback and significantly improves the win rate of a cash game player and the smart money always rides on these promotions.
Besides poker, what else are you looking forward to on this trip?
To be honest I’ve been to Goa 3 times for IPC and still haven’t done a single normal touristy thing whilst there. So I want to say I’ll be experiencing the culture of Manila and hitting up all the party hot spots of the city, but knowing myself I probably won’t be leaving the casino until it’s time for my flight.