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For the past five days, records have been tumbling non-stop in Goa ever-since the India Poker Championship (IPC) made an explosive comeback! The series dashed off the starting blocks on September 11 at the floating Casino Big Daddy and immediately set about shattering records. The series-opener ₹10K Freezeout clocked in 437 entries, becoming the biggest ever ₹10K Freezeout event in Goa to-date, while the ₹100K High Roller registered a gigantic field of 207 entries, eclipsing the record set by previous High Roller events hosted by the IPC.
The pièce de résistance ₹35K Main Event was the event that the domestic circuit was looking forward to and the tournament did not disappoint. Logging in a never-before-seen field of 777 entries through two starting flights, the Main Event decimated the 697-entry record established by the 2018 WPT India Main Event! The 2019 IPC Main Event collected ₹2.65 Crores in the prize pool, another new IPC record, which is 70% more than the advertised guarantee of ₹1.6 Crores, and is the second-largest prize pool ever collected in India, with the 2018 WPT Main Event still holding the distinction of being the biggest tournament in the country with a prize pool collection of ₹3.62 Crores.
Following two days of marathon play, the 777-strong entry field was reduced to 159 runners who made it through to Day 2. It took another 12 hours of high-octane tournament action on Sunday before Raj Talwar (cover image) was the only player left standing. He not only claimed his career-first live title but also banked a personal-best live score of ₹49.25 Lakhs for his efforts this weekend!
An erstwhile active tournament player, Talwar has been notably missing from the circuit since 2017. His last score was in the ₹10K NLHE Kickoff at the DPT February edition where he had finished 34th for ₹14,160. Just like the IPC, Talwar too returned to the live tournament felts in style!
Talking about his win during the presentation ceremony, Talwar said, “It’s an out of the world feeling. It’s been a long journey to achieve this and trust me I have no words to express this!”
Talwar had started out as one of the shorter stacks on the final table but maneuvered his way to the top. He eliminated the likes of Pulkit Goyal, Dinesh Singh, Dhaval Mudgal, and eventual runner-up Ayush Garg to win the title. Commenting on the heads-up match-up against Garg, Talwar said, “Playing for five-to-six hours with him on the same table, I had a few reads on him. I picked up hands on the spots where I had to make the move. So, I think it worked out well for me.”
In fact, Talwar very graciously passed on the Seven Friday branded wrist watch, gifted to him by the sponsors for winning the Main Event, to his heads-up opponent, Garg.
Another finalist worth mentioning was Ashish Ahuja. The lawyer-turned-poker pro is coming out from a phenomenal summer in Las Vegas where he made his WSOP debut. He came very close to becoming India’s first solo gold bracelet winner in Event #42: $600 Mixed NL Hold’em/PL Omaha Deepstack 8-Handed, but missed out, finishing in fifth place for $48,914 (~₹34.10 Lakhs). Back on home soil, he made a run for the title in DPT July edition ₹65K High Roller and yet again finished runner-up for ₹16.90 Lakhs. His fifth-place finish for ₹12.46 Lakhs in this event, was his third final table finish this year.
That’s not all, folks! The self-proclaimed ‘King of Instagram’ Dan Bilzerian also made an appearance at the Casino Big Daddy last night flanked by his entourage and security personnel. He played a private high stakes cash game at the VIP floor of the casino.
Day 2 resumed with 159 entrants returning to the felts to contend for the grand prize. With the top 86 places assured payouts, 73 eliminations took place before the money bubble was breached.
Anshuman Pandey was the first player to finish in the money, placing 86th for ₹65,900. Other notables who also crossed the money line included Gaurav Gupta (22nd for ₹1.87 Lakhs), Anant Purohit (26th for ₹1.58 Lakhs), Day 1A chip leader Awnish Singh (30th for ₹1.29 Lakhs), Zarvan Tumboli (33rd for ₹1.29 Lakhs), Rajat Sharma (39th for ₹1.13 Lakhs), Mitang Soni (43rd for ₹1.13 Lakhs), Kartik Ved (54th for ₹1 Lakh), 2016 IPC Main Event winner Mukesh Surana (57th for ₹89,700), Manoj Pentakota (60th for ₹89,700), Mithun Mahesh (61st for ₹89,700), Ram Kakkar (73rd for ₹72,900) and Aditya ‘Bitti’ Agarwal (84th for ₹65,900).
Anshul Bagai bubbled the final table, finishing 10th for ₹4.08 Lakhs.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Ayush Garg – 5,870,000
2. Ashish Ahuja – 2,960,000
3. Dinesh Singh – 2,910,000
4. Dhaval Mudgal – 2,800,000
5. Sanket Arora – 2,780,000
6. Sam Anand – 2,030,000
7. Raj Talwar – 1,590,000
8. Kavish Kukreja – 1,560,000
9. Pulkit Goyal – 735,000
Final Table Recap
The first player to hit the rail was the fifth-place finisher of the ₹10K Freezeout, Kavish Kukreja. He was one of the short stacks at the start of the final table and soon fell victim to Ashish Ahuja. Kukreja jammed for 1.7 Million with pocket queens, and Ahuja called with . The board revealed , and Ahuja found a pair of aces on the turn, eliminating Kukreja in ninth place.
The hand the changed the course of the final table occurred during level 31. Raj Talwar shoved with hoping to steal some chips and got a caller in Pulkit Goyal who tabled pocket queens. Luckily for Talwar, the board ran out , and he flopped three-of-a-kind kings, raking in a massive double up. However, the double up led to Goyal becoming one of the shortest stacks at the table and soon enough, he became the next player to exit the competition when his were cracked by Talwar’s . The board bricked, ending Goyal’s run in eighth place.
Dinesh Singh couldn’t stick around the for much longer either, and soon after Goyal’s exit, Singh became Talwar’s next target. The former’s was up against Talwar’s . The runout missed both players, but Talwar’s king kicker was good enough to knock Singh out in seventh place.
Less than 30 minutes later, Ayush Garg orchestrated the double elimination of Ashish Ahuja and Sam Anand. Ahuja moved all-in with and Anand called with . Garg who had them both covered called off revealing pocket queens. The community cards fanned out , sending Anand (6th) and Ahuja (5th) out the door.*
Finishing in fourth place was Sanket Arora when his ran into Garg’s . The board blanked, bringing an end to Arora’s deep run.
Down to three-handed play, it was the 2018 WPT Vietnam Main Event champion Dhaval Mudgal‘s turn to depart. Mudgal jammed for 5.1 Million with pocket treys, and Talwar called showing . The rundown brought Talwar a rivered two pair, resulting in Mudgal’s third-place dismissal.
The final showdown between Raj Talwar and Ayush Garg lasted for less than an hour, and in the end, it was the relatively more experienced Talwar who stole the show.
On the final hand, Garg went all-in, pre-flop, shoving his entire stack of 5.3 Million holding . Talwar called with . The board spread out and Talwar rivered three-of-a-kind tens, to clinch his career-first live title, along with a personal-best live score of ₹49.25 Lakhs!
Final Table Results (INR)
1. Raj Talwar – ₹49,25,775
2. Ayush Garg – ₹34,53,900
3. Dhaval Mudgal – ₹22,27,100
4. Sanket Arora – ₹16,31,300
5. Ashish Ahuja – ₹12,46,900*
6. Sam Anand – ₹9,95,100*
7. Dinesh Singh – ₹8,24,200
8. Pulkit Goyal – ₹6,56,000
9. Kavish Kukreja – ₹4,92,600
*The live coverage did not clearly mention the finishes of Ashish Ahuja and Sam Anand. We are assuming that Ahuja finished in fifth place and Anand exited in sixth place. We will make changes to our report once the final payouts have been released by the tournament organizers.
You can watch the recap of the final table action below.
Content & Images Courtesy: Gutshot Magazine & India Poker Championship
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