Heads-Up: APT Philippines 2017 Player of the Series Dhanesh Chainani Shares His Poker Journey, Recent Victories, Online Poker Ban in Singapore & More

Dhanesh Chainani
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  • PG News September 29, 2017
  • 3 Minutes Read

Whether its Indian players or players of Indian origin settled abroad, the exploits continue as Singapore’s Dhanesh Chainani (cover image) clinched the APT Philippines 2017 II Player of the Series defeating Japanese legend and APT Player of the Year 2017 Tetsuya Tsuchikawa.

The series was a resounding success, growing in popularity edition after edition and this time it brought forth some highly deserving champions. Dhanesh couldn’t ship a title but topped them all in the leaderboard race thanks to the three-final table finishes he made.

He finished third in opening event for $7,000 followed by a fourth-place finish in the $330 PLO Hi event for $1,310. His last final table came in the $220 NLHE – six-handed Turbo with Antes event where he finished third for $1,630.

Earlier in April this year, Dhanesh clinched the APT Champions Cup after defeating Sam Razavi in the heads-up battle. Chainani has impressive exploits both Live and Online with total live earnings standing at $183,454 while his online scores total at an impressive $653,326.

In an exclusive interview with PokerGuru, Chainani shares his poker journey, his experience at the APT Philippines 2017 II, how online poker ban in Singapore affected him and his future ambitions both in poker and in another venture he is involved in. Here are the excerpts –


Hello Dhanesh, thank you for speaking with PokerGuru. Please tell us about your poker journey. How did the poker bug bit you?

I first started playing poker casually amongst friends when I was 18, the usual home games and Diwali gambling sessions. At that time, it was obviously done just recreationally and for fun.


Please tell us about your foray into online poker. How much time do you grind online and how do you juggle between online grind and travelling for live events?

It was only in my first year in university when I met a friend who claimed he was making consistent profits from playing online poker, and that really sparked a great interest to want to learn more about the game. He mentored, coached and staked me at that time throughout the next few years of university. Obviously, that was a challenge, managing my time spent on my finance degree and learning and playing online poker. During the next few years my mentor went on to win numerous huge events such as the TCOOP Main Event and the Sunday Warm up and that inspired and drove me to want to achieve more in poker and take the game more seriously.

Upon graduation, I made the decision to play professionally, both online and live tournaments. Seeing all my university mates struggle spending countless amount of time and energy to land that dream job where they will end up working crazy hours pushed me even further to go against the grain and make a living doing what I really enjoyed doing. I mostly played 180-man Sit and Go’s as that’s where a lot of basics were learnt, and I was transitioning to playing MTTs.


How did the ban of Poker in Singapore affect you? Is setting up base in another country on the agenda?

Everything was going smoothly until the online gaming ban was introduced in Singapore. A bunch of us online players from Singapore (six of us) moved over to Cambodia to continue playing online. We choose Cambodia as it is just a short 1 hour 30 minute flight from Singapore, you can live luxuriously there for cheap, internet was surprisingly stable, and visa regulations were very relaxed.

During the year in Cambodia was the period where online poker starting becoming a lot tougher, we struggled to maintain the same ROIs we were getting in prior years and after about a year we decided that continuing to play solely online MTT’s and sit and Go’s wasn’t the best way forward.


Where and how much are you playing these days? Please share your grind regime.

After the year in Cambodia (2015), I came back to Singapore with the intention of moving away from full time poker. I invested most of my poker bankroll earned over the years into numerous businesses of my own and with my brother. It was a disaster; I ended up losing a large chunk of what I made over the year.

After this huge setback, I decided to travel around and just play live poker tournaments around Asia and Las Vegas hoping to make it all back there. I did successfully manage to rebuild about half of my lost bankroll through consistent performances in live poker tournaments (mostly many small wins).

Last year I decided to have a go at getting my hands on another business going in Singapore that would allow me to once again diversify from Poker and have multiple income streams. I started a Contact Lens distribution business in Singapore and that is currently going on smoothly.

Now I juggle my time between handling the business and travelling around Asia playing the live circuit (mostly Manila and Macau), alongside with annual trips to Las Vegas during the summer for the WSOP (I went for the second time this year).


You have been one of the prominent faces to attend Asian tournaments. Please elaborate on this and your experience playing Asian events till now.

I have had a pretty decent year on the Asian circuit. I think the more I play, the better I get as I better understand the general tendencies of the Asian players. I also consistently spend time discussing and solving hands with my other poker friends who play professionally as well. It is very important to keep up with the game and learn from mistakes.


Please tell us about your trailblazing run at APT that culminated with you winning the Player of the Series title. How was the experience?

The Asian Poker Tour has some of the best structures in the world and that allowed me to do well in the circuit over the year. Winning the player of the series in the recent APT in Manila was actually a surprise because I did make three final tables but didn’t win any of the events, 3rd place in two NLHE events and 4th place in a PLO event. I believe I narrowly won the award over one of Japan’s most respected players Tetsuya Tsuchikawa who finished close behind me in points. It is truly an honor to get the award alongside some of the best players in Asia.


Any future plans or any set goals?

My future plans involve growing my business in Singapore while continuing to play more events in the Asian circuit. Another priority is the WSOP in Las Vegas, it is truly the mecca of Poker and I plan to attend the entire series every summer till the day I die!


Any plans to visit India especially with WPT India coming up in November?

I have never played poker in India before but a trip there soon beckons. I have family in Mumbai and Pune and ideally a trip to visit them could coincide with one of the wonderful events in Goa. I have no immediate plans to attend any tournament there this year but will definitely look into it next year.


Any parting words or anything you would like to add?

With the Indian poker leagues and the growing online poker scene in India, it certainly seems like a huge lure for many professional players, and being an Indian by ethnicity, I would definitely want to get in on it soon. The future of Indian poker looks very bright indeed.


Dhanesh signs off!

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