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The ₹15K Big Bounty at the Baazi Poker Tour (BPT) January 2020 edition started off at 4 PM on January 9. With 30-minute levels, the event started slow but quickly gathered steam, eventually clocking in 193 entries to smash the advertised guarantee, collecting a prize pool of ₹17.56 Lakhs. In 2018, this very event had featured a slightly higher buy-in of ₹20,000 where it had logged in 220 entries, generating a prize pool worth ₹19.36 Lakhs.
While the original plan on Day 1 was to play out 20 levels, the play was halted three minutes into Level 19 when the nine-handed final table was formed. The nine finalists, headlined by Gangadhar Raaj, came back earlier today to play the final table. Following almost seven hours of grueling play, the latest Big Bounty champion emerged in Kshitij Kucheria (cover image)!
Kucheria had entered the final table with the fifth-biggest stack of 286,000 and went on to eliminate players like J. Raju and Chirag Sodha, before defeating Deepanshi Tomar heads-up to clinch his first-ever live title. He walked away with a career-best ₹4.70 Lakhs (includes 7 bounties) in prize money.
The 22-year-old had participated in the last BPT edition as well, where he had bricked the series. Still, he has mended that by tasting early success this edition after championing the Big Bounty event. His other notable cashes include bubbling the final table of the 2019 WPT India ₹35K SuperStack (10th for ₹1.27 Lakhs) and finishing eighth in the $300 NLHE NagaWorld Superstack Freezeout Classic at WPTCambodia for $1,258 (~₹90,137).
PokerGuru caught up with the Big Bounty champion who sharing his elation on winning the title, said, “It really is a dream come true man. I was trying for this for a very long time. I mean ya it’s a dream come true, many people take years to get their hands on the first trophy, I am lucky to get it in six months of live play.”
Talking about the crucial hands that he played, Kucheria said, “I picked up a bluff at the start of the tournament when I was chip leading, then I had a cooler, became short and was card dead for a long time. So, near the bubble, I had to just survive, push fold, and that’s what I was doing. Then after the bubble bust, I won one or two pots, and till the final table closed yesterday night, I was fifth in chips. I came here mid stack, and the idea was to play the normal game, don’t mess around as there were three or four good/regular pros on the table, so it was sick. So the idea was to don’t do anything fancy. I had two or three good hands with Chirag (Chirag Sodhi) in the tournament when we were three-way, so ya, that helped a lot.”
Commenting on the final table, he said, “Everybody knows Nishant Sharma, Abhishek Rathod, Chirag Sodha, and these guys are sickkos, even I was watching for them. I have watched them commentate and learnt a lot. I mean, they were the players I was afraid of, to be honest, so I identified one or two okay-ish players on whom I thought I had a good edge and capitalized on that.”
Runner-up Deepanshi Tomar was a formidable opponent for Kucheria. Though a new face on the tournament circuit, Tomar was introduced to poker by a friend about a year back. The GM Marketing for Baazi Games, Tomar, played exceptionally well for a newbie, claiming a commendable ₹3.22 Lakhs for her second-place finish.
Incidentally, another female player, Rachita Salla, had finished runner-up in this very event last year. The increasing number of female players running deep in tournaments is genuinely a positive sign for the sport!
Among the finalists, Chirag Sodha, Gangadhar Raaj, and Nishant Sharma deserve special mention. In fact, Sodha and Sharma were making back-to-back final table appearances this series. Both players had reached the final table of the ₹10K Kick-Off that was won by PokerGuru Ambassador Ashish Ahuja on Thursday. Notably, Sodha had finished fifth in the Kick-off for ₹1.48 Lakhs, while Sharma placed sixth for ₹1.19 Lakhs. Tonight, Sharma hit the rails early, exiting in seventh place for ₹1.10 Lakhs (includes 8 bounties), while Sodha did better with a third-place finish worth ₹2.10 Lakhs (includes 6 bounties), in prize money.
Raaj, on the other hand, has become a familiar face at the BPT. He had picked up three scores in the last edition, including two final table finishes. In fact, he had finished third in the BPT ₹20K Big Bounty at the last edition for ₹3.15 Lakhs. This time around, he posted a fifth-place finish for ₹1.36 Lakhs (includes 6 bounties).
Coming back to the ₹15K Big Bounty, the top 24 places were assured payouts. Myron Pereira became the unlucky bubble boy, while Jyoti Ranjan Nayak was the first player to finish in the money and was eliminated in 24th place for ₹19,500.
The others notables who finished in the money included defending champion Gokul Krishna (11th for ₹39,400), Kunal Patni (12th for ₹65,400), Anuj Yadav (18th for ₹27,000) and Ritesh Khatwani (21st for ₹35,200).
After the elimination of Gurjeet Singh in 10th place, the nine-handed final table was set with the clock paused for the day. Here is what the end of day chip counts looked like.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Gangadhar Raaj – 535,000
2. J. Raju – 481,000
3. Deepanshi Tomar – 406,000
4. Bobbe Suri – 307,000
5. Kshitij Kucheria – 286,000
6. Abhishek Rathod – 261,000
7. Nishant Sharma – 232,000
8. Chirag Sodha – 218,000
9. Anmol Srivats – 163,000
Final Table Recap
All the finalists came back to play the final table on Friday and it took about an hour for the first elimination to take place, which happened to be Bobbe Suri. Deepanshi Tomar, who was on the button, opened to 23K, and Gangadhar Raaj flat called from the small blind. Suri 3-bet to 65K from the big blind, prompting Tomar to fold. Raaj called to see the flop open . Suri led out for 85K, and Raaj tank called. On the turn , Raaj moved all-in and Suri called, turning over . Raaj held . While both players had made a straight, Raaj held the stronger hand, resulting in Suri’s ninth place exit.
Soon after that, it was PokerBaazi Team pro Abhishek Rathod’s turn to exit the final table. The action saw Nishant Sharma opening the pot for 22K and J. Raju 3-bet it to 60K. Rathod shoved for 240K, and Sharma got out of the way even as Raju called tabling . Rathod showed . The board blanked for Rathod, ending his run in eighth place.
Less than 30 minutes later, Nishant Sharma open-shoved holding , but unfortunately for him, Tomar woke up with behind him. To make matters worse for Sharma, Tomar flopped a set to get play down to six-handed.
These six soon became five with the elimination of Anmol Srivats. In a battle of the blinds, Srivats moved all-in from the small blind with , and Chirag Sodha called with . Sodha held through with his better kicker coming into play, sending Srivats to the rail in sixth place.
The start-of-the-final table chip leader Gangadhar Raaj failed to go all the way and saw his run come to an end at the hands of Sodha. The latter opened from UTG, and short-stacked Raaj pushed his remaining stack in the middle with . Sodha called with and took down the pot on the rundown , dismissing Raaj in fifth place.
With only 6 BBs left, J. Raju decided to move all-in on the button with . Kshitij Kucheria called from the big blind with . The community cards fanned out , and just like that, Kucheria eliminated Raju in fourth place.
PokerBaazi’s own Chirag Sodha, who has been in fine form since the start of the series, fell out in third place. He lost a massive pot to Tomar when his were bested by Tomar’s . Down to 7 BBs, Sodha moved all-in with , and Kucheria called with . Kucheria completed a king-high flush on the board , dispatching Sodha to the rail in third place.
With Sodha gone, the heads-up play convened between Kshitij Kucheria (1,980,000) and Deepanshi Tomar (885,000). Though the more experienced Kusheria held the lead at first, the resilient Tomar fought hard, even snatching the chip lead away from Kucheria at one point. It was a brief heads-up that lasted for about an hour. Tomar kept bleeding chips, and in the end, it was Kucheria who claimed the title.
On the final hand, Kucheria jammed with , and Tomar got it in with her 8 BB stack holding . The board bricked for Tomar and she was relegated to a runner-up finish. Kucheria captured his career-first title, along with a personal-best ₹4.70 Lakhs up top!
Final Table Results (INR)
1. Kshitij Kucheria – ₹4,70,000 (includes 8 bounties)
2. Deepanshi Tomar – ₹3,22,100 (includes 4 bounties)
3. Chirag Sodha – ₹2,10,900 (includes 6 bounties)
4. J. Raju – ₹1,57,000 (includes 4 bounties)
5. Gangadhar Raaj – ₹1,36,300 (includes 6 bounties)
6. Anmol Srivats – ₹1,12,500 (includes 6 bounties)
7. Nishant Sharma – ₹1,10,800 (includes 8 bounties)
8. Abhishek Rathod – ₹66,200 (includes 2 bounties)
9. Bobbe Suri – ₹70,400 (includes 6 bounties)
Read our complete coverage of the event here.
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