“Poker is a male dominated industry for sure, but I wouldn’t say I face any problems because of that. The problems that most poker players generally face at the beginning of their careers is acceptance.”
On this auspicious day, we have our very first female Rising Poker Star – Kanchan Sharma with us. Kanchan hails from Agra, Uttar Pradesh and is one of the recognized full-time female poker players in India. In our chat session, Kanchan spoke about her poker journey, support system, future plans as well as the highs and lows in the career so far. Without wasting more time in the introduction, let’s hear it out in her own words –
Hi Kanchan, for those who don’t know much about you, could you please give a little introduction like where are you from, your educational background and other stuffs?
Hi! I originally belong from Agra and have currently relocated back to my hometown since the COVID-19 lock down in March. I completed my schooling from Agra and then moved to Delhi to pursue my Bachelors in Commerce from Delhi University. Before taking up poker as my full-time profession, I worked for 3 years as an Instructional Designer.
Tell us about your poker journey. How it all started?
I was introduced to poker around 3-3.5 years ago by a friend. Having always been interested in card games, I took to liking poker as well. The passion with which he explained the game to me, created a sort of affinity towards the game in me as well. I learnt the basics of the game from him and then gradually started learning about the strategy aspect of the game as well. Eventually I joined a stable to continue learning more about the sport.
Online poker or live poker – which is more interesting to play and why?
Both online poker and live poker have their pros and cons. Live poker is surely more fun and interesting as you’re kind of more invested in the table and the people around you. However, online poker does provide more sustainability. Multiple tournaments and tables can be played at the same time and the variance is lower as compared to a live game.
What kind of a player are you at the poker table? How would you describe yourself?
Well, the kind of poker player I am totally depends on the game and the table I am playing. All in all, my game totally depends on the stack size and stage of the tourney I’m at.
How do you balance your personal life while playing poker? Can you give us a sneak peak into your daily routine?
I have weekly offs built into my schedule to ensure that I maintain a balance. I try and take 1-2 days off in a week where I don’t play at all. On a daily basis, I ensure that I have an hour for Yoga, some time to study and do review sessions during the day and then I grind through the evening.
How do you prepare for a tournament? Is there any specific routine you follow prior to playing a tourney?
I don’t have any specific routine as such. However, I do ensure that I get some physical activity and some time for meditation before tournaments.
People often talk about glories but we learn the best from our mistakes, so was there any moment when you had it totally wrong but you learned from it?
Yes, this one time in January, I was on the final table of the IOPC main event. I came 5th in that tournament and later when I was reviewing my hand history, I realized that I was too passive. This is something I wouldn’t want to be doing again in the same position.
Tell us about the support system that keeps you going even after a terrible day of poker.
I have an incredible support system in my family and friends. Back when I was in Gurgaon, before the lock down, it was my friends who helped me after a terrible day of poker. Luckily for me, most of my close friends aren’t from the poker industry which makes it easier to keep your mind sane at times. Now that I am back home, I spend time with my mother.
What are your most important achievements or moments of your poker journey so far?
I am not sure if I’ll tag them as important but surely there are some moments I cherish – The time when I ranked first in the Sunday Super Stack tournament last year and when I bagged the EPT Prague package. I think some of my important achievements are yet to come.
Poker is still a male dominated industry especially when it comes into India. How do you perceive this and which are the problems you generally face or faced at the starting level of your career?
Poker is a male dominated industry for sure, but I wouldn’t say I face any problems because of that. The problems that most poker players generally face at the beginning of their careers is acceptance. However, times are changing, and more and more women and men are taking to the sport. A lot of established poker players are doing a great job at publicizing the game as well.
How do you decide on a tournament? What are the factors involved in picking or choosing a particular tournament?
The buy in for the tournament and the structure of the tournament are two considerations that I look at while picking a tourney to play. I prefer playing slow structured tournaments.
Who do you think is currently the best poker player in the industry?
In India, I think Sri Harsha is surely one of the best poker players we have.
What are your future plans? Any upcoming tournament you are eyeing upon?
I look forward to my Sunday grind a lot. The online poker arena has a number of tournaments through the week, but Sundays are usually more intense.
Which are the Indian websites you love playing at? Can you rank them in an order?
I like playing on Spartan Poker, PokerBaazi, Adda52 and PokerStars in that order. However, this order is purely on the basis of the number of tournaments they host.
Where do you feel a newbie can go wrong in poker? Any tips for the aspiring poker players in India?
I think the biggest tip for any newbie is for them to ensure bank roll management. The only thing that I always tell aspiring poker players is to go for it and give it their best. Also, its important to pursue poker professionally for the right reasons – when you thoroughly enjoy the process of the game.
Stay tuned to check out the next Rising Poker Star!