| On Updated : Jul 13, 2020 2:35 PM IST

Kanishka Samant: The 2 times IPC winner opens up on his poker journey and future plans

By Dheeraj Singh

“Focus on your weaknesses more, along with having proper bankroll management. Also, try to work out and eat healthy as it will help you in the long run.”

Kanishka Samant is a renowned name in the Indian Poker Circuit. The Mumbai-based poker pro has won many titles both in domestic and international tournaments in his decade long poker journey. On Sunday, we got an opportunity to a have a chat session with Kanishk where he opened up on his poker journey, title wins and also shared helpful insights of the game.

Here are the excerpts from the chat session –

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on winning Spartan Poker’s Destiny title that took place a couple of days ago. Before we proceed with the hardcore questions, can you tell a little about yourself and your educational background?

Yeah!  Thank you. I did my M Com and then my MBA from Welingkar Institute of Management and I was working as a technical analyst in 2010. I discovered poker around the same time, and in 2012, I took it up professionally and had been playing professionally since then.

What do you love playing more – live games or online games?

My first preference would be playing live games, and my favourite game would be playing live cash, followed by the live tournaments.

Is there any specific reason for this?

I started playing live games, and I think I can grind for more hours in live games and I am more focused while playing them. Also, I can extract more information about people and their gameplay on live tables.

Can you tell a little more about how you got introduced to Poker?

I was at my cousin’s place in New Jersey where his roommate had a poker table back in 2007- 2008. I asked my cousin about what it was so he kind of introduced me to the poker. And since I came back in 2009, I started playing on Zynga poker with free chips. Then in 2009- 10, I started playing some fun home games.

In 2010, I started going to casinos to play some games and then in 2011; I started playing some live tournaments.

When did you started playing online poker, and which was your first online platform?

My first online platform was PokerStars in 2011 itself. It was the best site at that time with a number of tournaments and guaranteed prize pools and favourable buy-ins.

Which are the Indian platforms you love to play at now?

I don’t play at PokerStars much now because of the tax policies, and also they don’t have many lucrative deposit offers.

I mostly play on Spartan Poker, Adda52 and a bit on  PokerBaazi.

Also, I don’t play much now. It is like three times a week while last year I was probably playing like five times a week.

Is there any specific reason for it? Like are you focusing on something else?

Yeah, I have started investing in the stock market. So, I kind of balance my work with playing tourneys. I am also doing a bit of coaching. So, that’s why I don’t grind much now.

Can you tell a bit about your daily routine?

Mostly I wake up around 09:30 no matter what time I sleep because I trade in the stock market as well. I am doing it for the past four months now. After the crash, I started investing more as I think it is the right time to invest more. I was waiting for this right time for almost a year and a half. So, I have started dedicating more time to it now.

Is there any specific routine before playing poker or any tournaments?

Monday is a break. And, since I have to wake at 09:30 at least so, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday are the four days I end up playing poker. Sometimes I feel like playing on Monday or Tuesday then I take it up. It’s more like on getting a feel now instead of playing it purposely. I take up the stock market thing on the rest of the days.

I also workout 3-4 times a week now. I am more focused on eating healthy and staying healthy now to become more focused and balanced. As for the last six months, I wasn’t focusing much on health, and I didn’t have a workout regime which I did not like at all. So, I made some changes since 2-3 months.

Is it the lockdown effect?

Not entirely as I am generally like that, for eight months a year I am super focused and follow a routine and then for four months I am like chilled out and go on a vacation and international tours. So, it gets affected. But the time I get back, it takes 10-15 days to get back to the routine.

Also, by the time, people reach the early thirties they start realizing about health and staying fit and healthy, wanting to live a healthier life. It also helps on the poker table as generally people are not able to focus long on poker table and the energy levels are not high always, so it’s better to follow a set routine.

Are you taking part in the Spartan Poker’s IOPC that has started a couple of days back?

Yeah, I won a satellite ticket to the tournament so I will be playing those events for sure. However, I am not sure what are the events available through that satellite ticket now.

Which is your most significant title win or memorable moment so far?

There are a couple of them but to choose the one will be winning the Main Event of India Poker Championship (IPC) in 2015. I won the 2012 IPC, but I wasn’t that good at that time because I was still learning the game and there were not many people who took part in it. Although I was happy! But, when I won it again in 2015, it kind of validated my decision to playing poker. It was the biggest at that time with 200+ people in it. So, yeah, it was an important one.

There are a couple of players who are doing well in the past few months or a year. So, if you had to pick the top five who they will be?

I can name at least ten people, but okay top five would be Gaurav Sood, Neel Joshi, Arsh Grover, Ayush Garg and Vaibhav Sharma.

I remember, Arsh Grover and I were ambassadors of PokerHigh when he was 17 years old.

Is there any tip for the young aspiring poker players?

I think most of these young guns are from IITs and IIMs, so they are anyway a smart bunch.

First, finish your education as it is vital. Second, your family’s acceptance is crucial. No matter how much money you make or titles you win, if your family doesn’t support you and isn’t there then all these achievements won’t matter.

And then, understanding your strengths and weakness is also crucial. Focus on your weaknesses more, along with having proper bankroll management.

Also, try to work out and eat healthy as it will help you in the long run.

Is your family your support system? Or what keeps you going on an odd day at poker?

Yeah, so, after I won a tournament in 2011 and again in 2012 and then there was some media coverage they were pretty much happy that I am doing something legit and they knew I am more focused and working hard.

In 2014, I went bust and was totally shattered. So, 2014 onwards I made a lot of changes basically the approach towards poker and became a totally new and fresh poker player. I should consider myself a complete or better poker player after 2015 only. Since then, I think I didn’t have a downswing or a breakdown or even if I had one I tried not to mention it to the family as they might get bothered. So, I was more like if I played good, I told them it’s a good day and if I played bad, I told them it’s a bad day. So yeah, since then it was like more balanced and smooth.

Stay tuned to know the next Poker Star.

Dheeraj Singh

I believe Life and Poker work on the same principle. The more you learn the better you become.