How can one excel at Poker, Chess, and even crack Math like a boss? Poker pro and Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) specialist Tanay Hargunaney is a master of all trades. This poker coach is an IIT alumnus and despite touching great heights in his professional career, he chose a totally different path for himself.
Hargunaney was introduced to Zynga Games on Facebook back in 2009-10. Though he started out on Zynga, today, he runs Poker Boot Camp India, one of the premier poker bootcamps in the country along with his friend and poker pro Abhishek Goindi.
We wanted to feature him in our ‘Follow Your Heart’ series as he took the plunge, switched careers and is now achieving poker milestones everyday. We got in touch with Hargunaney, to know more about how he approaches the game, his take on PLO and more.
How long have you been playing poker?
I started playing small stakes games during my college days.
During the conversation, you mentioned that switching careers was a decision you took because you understood the potential and the revenue this game could give. How was the switch like?
Post college, when I was working at Microsoft, Hyderabad as a software developer I also started playing poker as a side hustle. I started with a low stakes cash game on Spartan Poker in 2015, where I made a podium finish on the leaderboard. After that, I started playing more live home games and I was introduced to India Poker Championship (IPC) events in Goa.
During this time, I started learning more about the game and one thing led to another and I figured that I was investing more time into a side hustle. That’s when I understood that I could do better and excel in this sport and eventually the decision was taken.
How important is it for players to gain a strong foot in poker before they decide to switch careers?
It is very important for players to gain a strong foot before they decide to switch to poker. You have to have your fundamentals in place, understand what you are getting into, keep poker bankroll and other bankroll separate, manage finances, evaluate opportunity costs even more as compared to a day job. Most importantly, one must understand the difference in income that a poker player will have.
When was the moment you realised that poker was your calling?
It would be in 2017, when I had already been playing for 3.5 years, recreationally. I was also looking to switch jobs within the company since I was looking to venture into newer projects and more challenges, mainly to grow. However that did not work out as well, as I was investing more time into improving my poker skills to grow as a player and work in that direction. So, as one corporate project didn’t go as planned, a new personal project came to light!
Since you are from a PLO background, what do you think makes you different from the others in the business?
Being a PLO player is no different than a no limit holdem or multi-table tournament player. We have to put in equal study hours and efforts. We face similar mental issues during a game as any other player. Being a PLO player or MTT player, both have their pros and cons.
What do you wish to tell aspiring PLO players?
Budding PLO players should definitely start with low stakes, and study it as it may look complex. For PLO, one must study in volumes, manage bankroll efficiently and work hard to get a strong mental game in place.
You are one of the strongest pillars of Poker Bootcamp India. When was the time you realized that coaching could be your thing?
Abhishek Goindi and I started the poker boot camp back in 2019. We started with the idea to impart poker education.
ALSO READ: 21 Questions With Abhishek Goindi
Where did your interest in this specific type of poker arise from?
Since I come from a technical background and math is my strongest suit, I was intrigued by the game of PLO. Teaching math was always fun for me. I feel this just came naturally as I can explain concepts from ground level, and break down the most complex ideas in the simplest forms.
What are three things that any player who gets coached under you will surely learn?
The three things would be Math, technical/ theoretical approach, and learn to play this as a mental game. These are some things I take up with the campers intensively in our daily sessions.
As a person who teaches the game, how frequently do you update yourself about the game?
This is very important because I play 6-8 hours a day myself. After coaching sessions and completion of the works of the bootcamp, I work with study content, videos, solvers, etc. on a regular basis.
As a poker player and a coach, where do you see yourself five years down the line?
Five years could be too long to foresee, but maybe two years down the line, we want to have a super strong community of players at the PBCI. My grind time may come down, and more focus on the company and operations is where I see this going. We wish to grow into a one-stop for poker in India.
Hargunaney’s vision for PBCI and towards his game is inspirational. We hope to see him scale newer heights. For more such articles, keep reading GutshotMagazine.com. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram.
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