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Rishabh Vekaria’s (cover image) participation at the recently concluded DPT July edition was a chance occurrence. The Gujarat-based cash game player, while on a trip to Mumbai, had come across the promotion of an online satellite for the DPT series on Facebook and decided to try his luck. It seems that lady luck was very much on his side as not only did Vekaria win the ₹8,500 buy-in Super Satellite on Adda52.com, which offered flights, stay and entry tickets to all the four DPT tournaments, he also went on to cash in three events at the series, ultimately claiming his career-first live title in the biggest event on the schedule, the ₹35K Main Event, for a personal-best ₹30 Lakhs! By the end of it, Vekaria had converted a ₹8,500 investment into a ₹33.48 Lakhs windfall at the series!
Vekaria’s first brush with poker was similar to how most poker players in the country were introduced to the game, through Zynga Poker way back in 2008. Once hooked to the game, Vekaria slowly ventured into the world of online poker and cash games. After grasping the concepts of bankroll management and gaining some idea about the different aspects of the game, he started binge-watching YouTube poker videos to refine his skills.
Despite the inclement weather conditions and the disturbing taxi strike, the last DPT series of the year was able to pull in the crowds, comfortably smashing the steep prize pool guarantees. Vekaria made the most of the opportunity awarded to him, and his blistering run at the series saw the live MTT rookie posting an impressive three scores making him the top earner at the series and definitely one with the highest ROI. He got his first taste of tournament success in the series-opener ₹15K Deep Dive NLH where he finished 24th for ₹38,000. He followed that up with an eighth-place finish in the ₹65K High Roller for ₹3.10 Lakhs. Closing out the series in style, Vekaria famously went on to win the Main Event, overcoming a massive field of 448 entries for a career-best ₹30 Lakhs.
Talking to PokerGuru after his impressive win, Vekaria recounted how he was introduced to poker, his experience at the DPT July edition and much more. You can listen to the conversation in the audio blog below or read the entire transcript in the interview that follows.
Hi Rishabh, tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, I am Rishabh Vekaria, 35 years old from Gujarat. We are into building constructions and logistics business since three generations.
Can you describe your poker journey elaborately? Since you are primarily a cash game player, how did you learn the game?
So, a friend of mine introduced me to poker on Zynga back in 2008 and I instantly got hooked onto it. I used to play poker for hours on Zynga but never paid attention to the bankroll or stakes I should play or for that matter even the calls and bets I should be making against a player under any particular situation.
So, you know, these guys, Zynga, they used to give free chips every day. We would just play for fun until our chips lasted. The real learning came when I started playing online and live only when I used to go out on holidays. So, since it was real money I was dealing with, I acquired knowledge about bankroll, bet sizing, how to adjust my play with..while playing from different positions. Opening play according to my stack size and a bunch of other stuff to consider.
I have also watched many YouTube videos of tournaments like WSOP Main Event, EPT, etc. to brush my skills. I still keep myself updated with all the tournaments that comes up on YouTube be it any tournament being played around the world.
Usually, where and how much poker do you play?
To be honest, I have played a lot in the past, but I haven’t touched cards from last two years since there wasn’t any legit medium online or live where I could play from you know, from the place I live.
What enticed you to come for DPT July 2019 since you had no recorded tournament cash till a week back?
I was in Mumbai when I read about DPT on Facebook, and I thought to give it a shot on the online DPT super satty, and I won that tournament which gave me every good reason to visit the series of tournaments.
How was your overall experience at the series? What are your views about the structures and the turnout?
It’s been one of the most successful series of tournaments I have played so far. They have really fine-tuned the structure of ₹65K High Roller and ₹35K Main Event, and everyone starts deep, so everyone gets equal chance to show their skills with such deep stacks. I also like the way how the pace and nature of the tournament changes as we move further ahead in the game. The game gets quick, and of high variance when the shorter stacks are desperate to double up, the middle stacks being most attentive and cautious, and the larger stacks would try to eat small stacks. So as soon as the shorter stacks get eliminated, the game changes its nature again, and most of the players get deep again so being a poker player you need to adjust your plays constantly during the game.
Take us through the journey of your overall series. What events did you play before Main Event? Also, tell us about your Main Event journey.
Since I had won DPT super satty online, I was lucky to receive a full package which includes flights, stay and entry tickets to all the four tournaments. I played ₹15K Deep Dive and busted at 24th out of 294 players, then I played ₹65K High Roller where I was eighth. I busted at eighth out of 146 entries, and the last one I played was ₹35K Main Event where I emerged as the winner out from 488 entries. For the Main Event, I registered in flight C, and it was my first, and only bullet fired. I had played ₹65K High Roller just a day earlier and busted at eighth and I knew the mistakes that I did, even so, I had to fine-tune my play for the ₹35K Main Event accordingly with respect to my stack sizing because I was really short on my stacks when I busted at 8th in the ₹65K High Roller. So I was, you know, I was constantly visualizing myself on that final table, and I had decided that I am not going to be a short stack if I am on that final table in the ₹35K Main Event. So that mindset of mine made me adjust my play where we are deeper into the tournament.
Talk us through your run on Day 2 and Day 3. Any standout moments?
So, to be honest, I don’t remember any particular hand, but there was this one hand which left one of the players shocked actually. I was in the button with seven-nine of spades, and I had opened 2X raise preflop with my stack size being 1.5 Million at that point of time when there were only 33 players left in the game. So, the small blind folded and the big blind had a stack of around 450,000. He decides to 3-bet me with 3x preflop. With my stack size as compared to his, you know, I decide to call his 3-bet. So now the flop opens 7 9 and 10, and I hit the two pair. The villain at the big blind, he decides to check, now since had 3-bet me preflop and I had two pair with me post-flop so I bet roughly about 45% of the pot and the villain jams all-in and I was left with no other option but to call his all in and there he was, he showed two aces and the turn and river, neither hit his card so I won a big pot which left villain shocked, and he kept coming to me while I was still in my play the rest of the day and kept asking me why I called his 3-bet preflop with 7 9 suited and I gave him good enough reason about my move.
How were the table dynamics 3-way and heads-up?
When there were only three players left, I had decided not to get in much with Ankur Sehgal, and I turned my focus on Anup Palod. Although I haven’t played with him much, but I believe he is a much more experienced player and favorite one in the circuit so I kind of decided to get involved with him more than Ankur. I knew it was going to be tough if he was heads-up against me. Heads up against Ankur look…looked pretty easy as I have played heads-up cash with some of the best cash game online players. Their job is to only play heads-up, so I just…I like to believe I had a better heads-up experience against Ankur.
Now that you have popped your live tournament cherry in style, has that motivated to play more tournaments in the future?
I haven’t decided on which stop is going to be the next one, but I do have WSOP 2020 on my mind right now and let’s see how things work out.
What in your opinion are must do’s for players looking to learn and improve their game?
Poker is a mind game, more than a game, I think it’s the wisdom that you must achieve in terms of knowing your opponents and their tendencies. You can only know that when you’re on the table and have played with them, watched their play even while you’re not playing that particular hand. Think on why he moved the way he did, know who is adjusting their strategies against different players as you can’t play the same way with all players. Everyone is different.