Categories: Rising Poker Stars
| On Updated : Aug 8, 2020 4:53 PM IST

Pranav Khandalkar on winning PokerStars ₹5 Lakhs GTD Big Bubble Rush Event

By Dheeraj Singh

“You need to know your limits to avoid the so called bad days. If you are playing the right stakes, it won’t be having that much impact.”

Today, we have Pranav ‘pkpok13’ Khandalkar with us in our Rising Poker Stars segment. Just two weeks ago, Pranav ended being runner up in the PokerStars’ The ₹5 Lakhs GTD Big Bubble Rush event. And improving upon this, he managed to clinch the title for ₹1.20 Lakhs on Wednesday night after defeating Vishnu ‘violator2018’ Khandelwal in the heads-up battle. In the chat session, Pranav talked about this title win, poker journey and other insights of the game.

Here are the excerpts –

Hi Pranav, thanks a lot for this chat session. First of all, could you please tell us a little about yourself?

I am a MBA from NIBM Pune, working in banking sector for past 13 years. I got married to Harsha in 2015 who is also a banker. I started playing poker in 2011 but it was in 2017 onward when I started taking this game more seriously.

Tell us a bit about your poker journey. How it all started?

I was introduced to the game by Rahul Sharma. He is a dear friend. It started in 2011 during my first visit to Goa. I was accompanied by him and during our visit we saw a poster of a live tournament which was happening in a casino. Although, we didn’t know anything about poker then but we were curious to know exactly what it is. So, we played some really high stake tournaments and of course we didn’t do well. But, that’s when the excitement and curiosity started about the game, how it is played and all. It glues you into it. So, this was my first experience where I literally knew nothing about it.

And, after returning, I started learning more about the game, understanding how it works and also how serious this game can be and even how it can be picked as a profession.

Live poker or online poker – which is more exciting?

I like to play live but due to my current work profile I cannot play live poker that much plus it’s very comfortable for me to play online as it helps me fulfill my other commitments. Also, there are limitations in live poker where you can play only one or two tournaments in a day while in online you can take up to twelve tournaments in a day. So, these differences are always there.

Also, a poker player can’t be playing only live, at least in India. He will have to play online for sure. It can be possible may be in western countries where you can frequently visit to a casino to play poker but in India it’s not possible.

You finished runner-up in the PokerStars’ The 5 Lakhs GTD Big Bubble Rush event two weeks ago. Improving upon this, you clinched the title for 1.20 Lakhs on Wednesday night. So, was there any change in strategy or approach?

First of all, we don’t plan to come second, we always eye upon the first finish or the title. But it was due to some circumstances that I ended up runner up. It’s about putting more and more volume and you will obviously start seeing the result. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose because of bad beat or bad play and other reasons.

So, the strategy is always to win and with bounty tournaments the difference between first prize and second prize is huge. You can’t even think of making a deal because the last man standing bounty is huge. So, that was always there in my mind as the second prize is less than half of the first prize.

Overall, it was fun winning this title.

What has been the impact of the lockdown on your lifestyle? Are you getting more hours to grind?

So, last three-four months of the lockdown has given me more time to focus on poker plus the poker scene has also changed a lot during this period. There’s a lot happening in Indian poker industry also in last two-three months which is a positive thing. I will say, I am lucky enough to catch in on this opportunity and I expect this boom to continue and grow in upcoming days.

How many hours do you grind daily?

I can tell you about the week. I ensure 20 hours grind weekly wherein three-four hours of reviewing my game and the rest goes in playing. Basically, I play four days a week at least.

How do you choose a particular tournament to play?

The most important factor in deciding a particular tournament is to know whether I can afford to play that tournament or not. I always have an upper cap in my mind that helps me decide that. And, if the poker sites offer massive guarantees and bigger tournaments that I can afford to play, I will definitely go for it.

Can you mention your most significant achievement and are you planning to turn into a full-time poker player?

As I said earlier, I got introduced to his game in 2011 and for next four or five years I started playing online when I was just learning the game. From 2016 onward I started taking this game more seriously with the stakes going up day by day. In 2018, I was selected for Poker Sports League that took place in Goa. This was one of the biggest achievements.

And, as far as taking it up as full-time is concerned, I have yet not decided. My learning curve has been very steep since 2017. But I have not yet decided it.

Tell us about your support system whenever you have an odd day.

I guess having played the game for eight-nine years I understand the implications of a bad day. So, I take it in its own stride. It’s very regular and very normal to have a negative/bad day; you just have to move onto the next day.

Also, if you are losing over a long period then there is something wrong and you need to address it. But, you shouldn’t be concerned for losing on a particular day or two three days in a row. It’s normal.

As far as the support system is concerned, my wife “Harsha” has been supportive. She is always there to boost my morale whenever things are not working that way.

Which are the Indian platforms you enjoy playing at?

From software point of view I like Adda52 and from tournaments and guarantees point of view I prefer Spartan Poker.

At last, would you like to share any advice to the aspiring poker players?

According to me, the first step should be learning the basics of the game and then gradually move towards playing. And after reaching a certain level you can do it vice versa, i.e. you can spend more time playing and lesser time in reviewing and learning the game. However, both are equally important.

The second thing is the money management. You need to know you limits to avoid the so called bad days. If you are playing the right stakes, it won’t be having that much impact when you lose. You need to play only those stakes that you can afford to totally lose and doesn’t affect your lifestyle.

Stay tuned to check out the next Rising Poker Star!

Dheeraj Singh

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