What an incredible week of poker went by at the India Poker Championship! Taking place from 11-15 September in the Spartan LIVE poker room onboard the Big Daddy casino in Goa, the event saw more than 2000 participants come together and create history. All attendance records across events were broken leading to the absolute crushing of the original prizepool guarantee of INR 3 Crores. When all was said and done, prize money worth INR 5.48 Crores was awarded!
IPC 10k Freezeout – Siddharth Mundada
This opening event attracted a record field of 437 entries from which 52 finished in the money and the man standing at the top of heap was Siddharth Mundada. The massive turnout in this 10k Freezeout meant that we couldn’t play down to a winner on the opening day, going into an unofficial second day. Haresh Kukreja was the overnight chip leader among the final nine players and he consolidated that lead early on today, busting out Shane Hodges and Kanishka Samant in the first hand of the day itself. Bust-outs continued over the course of time and soon, Kukreja himself was sent to the rail by Mundada, who of course became our eventual winner.
Mundada has been proving himself as a live player in recent months, having recorded 5 cashes at WSOP 2019 in Las Vegas, with total career cashes of $24k. However, this win in Goa became the largest of his live poker career, earning INR 8,80,000 for this victory, his first major live title too. In heads-up, he was up against Nikhil R, another player who had done brilliantly since yesterday. However, Mundada went into heads-up with a chip lead or nearly 5:1 and it was always going to be difficult for Nikhil to make a comeback from there. Eventually, the 27-year old Mundada emerged winner while Nikhil had to settle for the runner-up prize of INR 6,17,000.
IPC 100k Highroller – Pranay Chawla
This second event of IPC Sep recorded 207 entries which was another record-breaking field. Day 2 resumed on 13 September with 70 players still in contention of winning a massive prize of INR 51+ Lakh, a prize never seen before in a live poker Highroller tournament in India. Slowly but surely, eliminations were taking place, eventually reaching the bubble, with 24 players being paid a min-cash of INR 1.88 Lakh. As the night went on, players kept getting busted and collecting their cash prizes, while Pranay Chawla kept increasing his stack, entering the Final Table as the chip leader. He managed a few more bust-outs and even entered heads-up with the chip lead. We would’ve expected a deal in heads-up considering the massive pay jumps, but that didn’t happen.
The chips went back and forth between Chawla and Nitish Gupta but eventually, it was Pranay Chawla who managed to take away all glory. The Indian poker industry will remember this series for years to come and they will remember Chawla too, who managed to outlast this field full of pros to take away the 100k Highroller title and the enormous cash prize of INR 51,66,800 that came with it.
IPC 35k Main Event – Raj Talwar
And then it was time for the Big One – the Main Event. This INR 35,000 buy-in event had two packed starting flights of Day 1A (390) and Day 1B (387), which saw an incredible 777 entries competing for a prizepool of over INR 2.67 Crores. That figure crushed the original guarantee of INR 1.6 Crores by a cool additional crore, something that even the regs did not expect to happen. In the end however there could be only one and that turned out to be 32-year old Pune businessman Raj Talwar who raked in a phenomenal first place prize of and won the Main Event of this comeback edition of the IPC outlasting a massive field.
Day 2 combined the survivors of both starting flights (82 and 77) bringing them together on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm to play down to one player who would be crowned champion. Three-way action at the final table had Ayush Garg leading with Dhaval Mudgal close behind followed by Talwar on the short stack. Mudgal kept bleeding chips and failed to get any traction and eventually put it in with pocket Threes but got eliminated by Talwar who hit an Ace pair on the turn against Mudgal.Chips kept moving back and forth between Talwar and Garg but eventually Talwar managed to win a couple of pots to take the lead. Eventually he called with Ah 3d on Garg’s Qc 2d on a board of Tc 6h Jd Kd Ts. And with that hand we had a winner in Raj Talwar who took down the biggest ever field for an IPC Main Event, a cool trophy and INR 49.25 Lakhs!
IPC 15k Headhunter – Raghavendra Hada
All good things must come to an end and so it was with this amazing poker festival as the final day of the series saw the culmination of the Main Event as well as the final side event of the series in the Headhunter. This tournament followed the bounty format where for every elimination a player would receive INR 5,000 from his opponent’s buy-in. The Head-Hunter guaranteed INR 17.5 Lakh in prize money but 348 entries crushed it to make the eventual prize pool of INR 34.8 Lakh. It was Raghavendra Hada who went on to win the tournament defeating Arsh Grover in heads-up. Hada walked home with INR 7,39,000 in prize money while also separately cashing out his several bands which represented his bounties from the tournament.
The night only got better for Hada as he was handed over his trophy by none other than the ‘Big Daddy’ of poker, Dan Bilzerian. As for Grover, he began the final table as chip leader but couldn’t go on to complete the victory. Grover was slightly behind at the start of heads-up and ended up finishing second for INR 5,18,200, excluding prizes from bounties.
What a fantastic end to the proceedings and a wonderful comeback for India’s premier tournament in Goa. There was a feeling of excitement in the air right through the 5 days with great turnouts and prizepools expected AND delivered! The presence of Dan Bilzerian certainly added plenty of zing to this edition. Plenty of nostalgia in the air too as the IPC made its return after more than 3 years and many of the poker faithful who were absent from the scene came together to be a part of these festivities. So a terrific week of poker with many crores in prizes given away and four new IPC title winners crowned.
The IPC will return in the new year specifically from 14-19 January and we will see you at these felts again for another record breaking event! Until then…