The special 10th edition of India Online Poker Championship (IOPC) had a great run with many poker players emerging as winners. Held on Spartan Poker, the Millionaire United was among the bigger tournaments with a promised prize pool of INR 1.5 Crore. A large chunk of this prize pool was won by professional poker player Siddhanth Kripalani aka ‘PluRibu$,‘ who walked away with INR 26.7 Lakh and the title of the Millionaire United champion. But even though this Mumbai-born player turned pro only in 2018, his passion for the game is evident with the number of titles he has managed to claim in the past few years.
Kripalani’s poker journey started in the company of his friends who introduced him to the game in one of their casual get-togethers. However, it was his eventual discovery of online poker that made him realize the game was much bigger than he thought. “It was when I got introduced to online poker that I saw a whole new side to the game and it actually dawned on me that there’s an industry around this and it was much more than a game,” he commented.
He seized the opportunity and started playing online cash games in 2016 where he was met with a little bit of success. “I managed to build my bankroll, but then spewed it off after a couple of months,” he confessed. After sharpening his poker skills a bit more, he made the decision to quit his job in digital marketing in 2018 to pursue a full-time career as a poker player.
However, the decision was not an easy one to make, Kripalani admits, “It wasn’t easy as there was a lot of pressure to do good in life and to make my parents understand what I’m doing isn’t wrong or bad. And as you know the perceived image of poker in India is a very deluded one.”
“The journey so far has been tough but great. Playing poker gives me the freedom that I wouldn’t have if I was working a full-time job. The rewards exceed the financial aspect of the game,” he added.
He also explained that the perception of poker players leading lavish and easy-going lifestyles was a bit misleading. He elaborates on this saying, “What they don’t know is the amount of hard work it takes to reach a place where you can sustain and even then, you have to keep getting better every day because the people you’re competing with aren’t stopping.”
When asked about his Millionaire United win, Kripalani revealed that it was one tournament he was always hoping to clinch, “Millionaire is one tournament I had been wanting to win for 3 years and to finally have it happen felt really good.”
“2020 was a hectic year poker wise, as the schedule during lockdown was nonstop, and every site was crushing its guarantees. I knew IOPC would be a long grind so I had taken a break from December till IOPC began.
“Luckily, on the final table I had position over Goonjan so that was a good thing. You obviously don’t want a player of his caliber on the table because they don’t give their chips away easily. It’s always tough playing against him but a couple of flips went my way and things worked out this time. Plus we’ve had a heads up match before this, so I had a pretty decent idea about what his strategy would be.”
When asked to choose between playing online or live poker, he replied, “I think on a daily basis I would prefer online poker because you can put so much more volume, but nothing can replicate the atmosphere of a live tournament series in Goa or any other place. So, I’m looking forward to that opening up again,” he replied.
In July 2020, Kripalani won PokerBaazi’s INR 2 Crore GTD Game Changer and took home INR 40 Lakh, his largest cash grab till date. Here’s how he described this experience, “That was probably the most zoned in I had ever been in a tournament. It was my first time playing on the final table of such a big tournament, so I was feeling a little bit of pressure, but I think all in all it was a big learning curve for me.”
“And of course, winning such a tournament feels really good. In poker, most days will be disappointing days because you can’t win every day, that’s just the nature of the game. But it’s days like these that make all the work worth it,” he added.
Besides poker, he also enjoys playing football and admits that he can play it any time. He also loves spending time amidst nature, “I don’t think anything can match that feeling of serenity, whether it’s a beach or a forest or a hill.”
When quizzed about the places he would travel to with the money he just won from IOPC, the football-lover replied, “Vacations will come and go but I think I’d save it up and fly to Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Might sound like a cliche answer but who doesn’t want to play the WSOP?”