Since the last week or so, there has been one major point of discussion and that’s the India Online Poker Championship (IOPC) which finally concluded last night on Spartan Poker. Apart from a whole fixture of high-value tournaments, the IOPC Millionaire was the biggest talking point from the series, with a massive INR 2 Crore GTD prize pool and seven starting flights including one turbo flight.
Each entry paid the INR 11,000 entry fee across these seven starting days and when it was time to progress to Day 2 yesterday at 6pm, there were 444 entries still in play which included 290 unique players as some came to Day 2 with multiple stacks. The participation was much better than expected over these 7 starting flights and the mega event created a fresh prize pool of INR 2,93,80,000 which was distributed last night among the top 311 players, each getting a min-cash of INR 24,973.
Eliminations were quick on the day. The money bubble was approached immediately and before we knew it, we even had the Final Table set with many big names in contention to win a prize that has never been seen before in the history of online poker in India. Eventually, it was the very young poker player Srihari Bang aka ‘bangbang99’ who won the IOPC Millionaire and bagged a life-changing prize of INR 48,56,514 after he managed to beat Goonjan Mall aka ‘gmtesting’ in heads-up, delivering the final blow at 12:08am this morning.
Bang has had plenty of previous victories on Spartan Poker in the past, but is still only 20 years of age. Most of us are still in college at this age, with no real ideas of winning such massive amounts of money. Surely however, none of those past wins will have much significance when compared to this latest title that he captured last night, winning a prize amount that no other online poker player in the country has won in the past.
The only other tournament to have had such a massive guarantee in the past was PokerBaazi’s GameChanger which had INR 3.77 Crore in prize money. However, the prize money to the top-place finisher was reduced due to a 4-way deal which saw Prashanth Sekar emerging as winner. The January 2019 IOPC Main Event also had a massive INR 1.5 Crore GTD which saw Ashish Munot becoming richer by INR 38 Lakh in a single night.
It was always going to be a tough journey and in heads-up, he had to outlast Goonjan Mall, another player who has been on a heater in recent months, winning titles across platforms online. Bang had a chip lead of nearly 2:1 when we approached the final hand and here, Mall 3-bet shoved with pocket Eights only to get a call from Bang, who revealed Ks As. Mall was ahead before the flop but swiftly fell behind when Ah 5c 2s opened. 5s on the turn and 2d on the river completed the victory for Bang with Aces and Fives and Mall had to settle for INR 26,55,952 which is a career-best score for the runner-up as well.
‘I Fold’ fired 2 bullets in the IOPC Millionaire and returned with a massive score of INR 18.27 Lakh for finishing in 3rd place while Arsh Grover aka ‘BigggTymeR’ also bagged a major score of INR 13.25 Lakh for finishing 4th. ‘I’mThePlayboi’ was also on the FT of this prestigious tournament and ended with INR 11.07 Lakh for finishing 5th after being chip leader in his starting flight.
Other known names to make deep runs were Sajjan Barnwal aka ‘TheTeacher’ who finished 7th for INR 6.87 Lakh; Guneet Kwatra aka ‘guntz’ is a past Millionaire winner and here, he finished 11th for INR 3.09 Lakh; ‘JoeyTribbiani’ had a couple of titles in the IOPC series and here, he had a couple of stacks making deep runs, cashing in 13th place for INR 2.75 Lakh as well as in 9th place for INR 3.7 Lakh.
When we contacted Srihari, he said, “It’s surreal to take down the Millionaire and the Pokerstars Sunday special the same night. Was close to shipping another IOPC event earlier in the series but lost the HU. The real happiness comes from the fact that we sattied our way on the final day and hence effectively making our grind a 14-hr grind. The dream to play WSOP is on.”
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