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The series-opener of the India Poker Championship (IPC), the ₹10K Kick Off had a climactic finale! Galloping past a guarantee-crushing field of 315 entries, well-known pro Vinod Megalmani (cover image) came out on top to win ₹6.73 Lakhs in prize money. Although not his first live victory – Megalmani had won the 2019 Melbourne Crown Casino Recurring Tournaments A$150 Monday MegaStack last February – this happens to be the first live title on domestic soil! What makes his win even more commendable is that Megalmani came into the final day`s play a reasonable distance behind Aditya Kesharwani and defending champion Siddharth Mundada. Still, he outlasted them both to get his hands on the first IPC trophy at the ongoing series.
“It feels really good! It took me a long time to earn this, so it means a lot. I played my best…I don’t think I made a single mistake. But I think the cards helped. I was just playing my spots and luckily I didn’t lose a hand and when that happens, it’s hard to be scared of anyone, right! It worked out,” Megalmani said, in his post-event interview.
The Bengaluru-based pro’s heads-up clash was, in fact, with Mundada, but with a commanding 2:1 chip lead at the start of the heads-up, Megalmani took down the title after pulling off the perfect trap on the final hand.
Megalmani who’s been playing poker professionally since the past five years now remembered that the first-ever live tournament that he played was the IPC. He recounted his run in the event, “For the most part, I grinded really good from the start. I had a lot of chips early on and my only aim was to not lose the chips I had. So I didn’t want more chips, so it was just all about stack preservation. I got to the final table and just kept picking up ace-king…and ace-king was the highlight of the day. When that happens, it’s not hard to win.”
“Right now, it’s not about the money, it’s about the glory. I’m going to jump into the High Roller and try to take that down as well. Maybe I can take down that as well. Maybe I can take down all…that’d be something special!”
Mundada also spoke to us about his run in the event. He candidly admitted it was disappointing to come strikingly close to the title and miss it, but like any professional in the business, he has taken the defeat in his stride. “Yeah it feels painful, because I’m runner-up. If I had busted yesterday I wouldn’t have felt so bad, but after coming so deep I felt compelled that I have to win…but still a good score.”
The IPC had a very high benchmark to live up to. Their comeback series last September shook the entire industry with record-shattering turnouts across the board. In fact, the 10K Freezeout tournament had clocked in 437 entries – the biggest turnout to date in a 10K freezeout event held in the country to-date. Even though with 315 registrations, the turnout was almost 25% lower than the last edition, it was still more than enough to breach the advertised guarantee with a prize pool kitty of ₹30.55 Lakhs!
The IPC has always been about glamour and glitz and there were a good number of celebrities in attendance at the event, including the likes of Bollywood actor Siddhanth Kapoor, Suresh Menon, Anita Hassanandani, Karen Patel, and TV personalities Basheer Ali and Shruti Sinha.
There was a full house of top pros present at the event, and the list of poker superstars at present at the event included names like 2019 WSOP champion Abhinav Iyer, former IPC High Roller champion Pranay Chawla, former Millionaire champion Anish Patra, Sahil Mahboobani, Sangeet ‘Samoh’ Mohan and Raghavendra Hada. Unfortunately, all of the players mentioned above fell out before the money bubble.
With the top 37 finishers assured at least ₹18,900, the money bubble burst in Level 16, when Kunal Patni eliminated two players in a single hand. Atul Jaiswal was dispatched as the unlucky bubble boy while Vinod Hegde (37th for ₹18,900) became the first ITM finisher.
Zarvan Tumboli (24th for ₹26,600), Kunal Patni (25th for ₹23,500), Wilson Yomso (28th for ₹20,700), Haider Madraswala (30th for ₹20,700), Jyoti Ranjan Nayak (33rd for ₹20,700) and Vikram Freeman (34th for ₹20,700) were others who fell out before the end of play on Day 1.
Day 2 began at 3pm on Thursday and saw 22 returning players with Aditya Kesharwani in pole position.
The pace of eliminations was relentless, and in under an hour, players like Manveer Singh (17th for ₹40,300), Gaurav Sood (21st for ₹33,000) and Pradeep Pathak (22nd for ₹26,600) had hit the rail.
Only two women had qualified to Day 2, and following the elimination of Aishwarya Khurana (16th for ₹40,300), Deepanshi Tomar (12th for ₹57,000) was adjudicated the winner of the ‘Last Woman Standing’ contest. She was awarded a poker chip set by Poker Stuff India along with a gift hamper from Spartan Poker!
The eliminations kept coming, and within minutes Rachit Pathak (10th for ₹57,000) bubbled the final table.
The start-of-day chip leader Kesharwani was still going strong, holding on to his chip lead with a stack of 12,10,000 and was the only one in the field with a million-plus stack. Mundada (760,000) and Megalmani (665,000) were both a reasonable distance behind Kesharwani.
Final Table Chip Counts
Watch the final table in action here:
Final Table Recap
A couple of hands into play, Akash Shekhar jammed his last 16 bigs with and was called by Vinod Megalmani`s . Both Shekhar and Megalmani paired their ace for two-pair on the runout, but Megalmani’s king-high kicker came into play, ending Shekhar’s run in ninth place.
Around 30 minutes later, Nimit Patel was dispatched in eighth place. Patel shoved for 130K with , and Patrick Liang woke up with aces that held through.
Shortly after that, Ashwani Atrish was eliminated in seventh place in a three-way all-in showdown where Atrish’s pocket nines were up against Kesarwani’s pocket queens and Megalmani’s ace-king. Megalmani found an ace on the board to take the pot down. This was the turning point in the tournament for Megalmani as in the post-win interview, he had confessed that this was a marginal spot where the math would have favored a fold, but he was chasing the title. This left the erstwhile chip leader Kesharwani severely short-stacked while Atrish hit the rail.
Despite coming into Day 2 as the chip leader, Aditya Kesharwani had a rough ride on the final table. Down to his last eight big blinds, he got it in UTG with , and Mundada made the call from the cutoff with . The board ran eliminating Kesharwani in sixth place.
Not long afterward, Ankit Bhansali jammed for 140K holding and picked up three callers in Liang, Megalmani, and Mundada. The flop saw Liam bet 125K, forcing both Megalmani and Mundada to fold. Liam tabled putting Bhansali in a tight spot, and the last two streets blanked, eliminating the latter in fifth place.
Vikram Mishra was one of the shorter stacks on the final table and became the next player to follow Bhansali to the rail. He collected a fourth-place payday after his was cracked by Megalmani’s pocket nines that turned a set.
Three-handed play lasted less than an hour before Patrick Liang, who was down to his last four bigs shoved with . Megalmani called it off with . Both Megalmani and Liang hit a full house on the runout, but Megalmani held the higher full house, booting Liang out in third place.
Megalmani entered the heads-up play holding a dominating chip lead over Siddharth Mundada with 3.2 Million in chips as compared to the latter’s 1.52 Million.
There was some to and fro during which time Mundada covered some ground, but eventually, Megalmani took it down. On the final hand of the tournament, Megalmani trapped by limping in with on which Mundada instantly jammed with . Megalmani snapped it off. The runout saw Megalmani spiking a pair on the river to take down the pot, denying Mundada back-to-back titles in this event!
Final Table Results (INR)
Read our complete coverage of the event here.
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