In the midst of thousands of entries, glittering lights and crammed floors of the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, an Indian player emerged victorious! That year was the 50th anniversary of World Series of Poker (WSOP) played out between 28 May to 16 July. If poker enthusiasts would have known that 2020’s version of the richest festival would move online, the live poker lovers would have lived their fullest. But one Indian who gave his level-best was the 26-year-young Abhinav Iyer.
That moment in history we all had been waiting for, holding our breath, continuously checking the live updates – Abhinav Iyer taking down Event #84: The Closer – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em. He became the third Indian player after Aditya Sushant and Nikita Luther to bring his country a most prestigious poker WSOP title and a dazzling gold bracelet. After the win, the pro player explained that the game “is a booming market” back home. “Now, more and more people are getting into poker. It’s growing, and I hope this [win] can enhance that growth.”
The 86th gold bracelet event comprised of a star-studded field on Day 2 as 196 players reconvened after three starting flights. A few faces from the crowd to cash were Phil Hellmuth, Michael Mizrachi, the 2018 WSOP ME champ Joe Cada, Justin Young, Mike Sexton, Kristen Bicknell, and Bertrand Grospellier.
On 16 July 2018, Paawan Bansal recorded biggest live score by an Indian, pocketing an enormous prize of $378,765 (~INR 2.59 Crore). In 2019, Iyer broke that record for a life-changing $565,346 (~INR 3.87 Crore) in first prize. The champion outlasted a monstrous field of 2,337 entries and Iyer was cheered and supported all along the way by Indian colleagues in the rail. Other notable Indians to cash the event included Siddharth Mundada – 73rd for $5,956, Kalyan Chakravarthy – 98th for $4,401, Himmat Singh – 176th for $3,500, Shashank Jain – 189th for $3,500, Chirag Patel – 239th for $2,744 and Nishant Sharma – 275th for $2,530.
One of the toughest competitor on the FT was Shaun Deeb who was out in 7th place for $80,766. Adam Johnson was the next to fall, finishing 5th was Patrick Eskandar. Next was Carlos Chang’s turn to leave. With the elimination of Sergio Aguilar heads-up got underway between Iyer and Sammy Lafleur and a 2:1 chip lead for the former. Canadian’s pocket seven fell victim to Q-10 of Iyer as another ten landed on 4th street. Thus, the Indian boy secured the top prize and the coveted piece of gold on 16 July 2019.
Final Table Payouts:
Now with $870K in total live earnings, Iyer sits behind Aditya Agarwal and Raghav Bansal in India’s all-time money list. The champion expressed, “The Indian rail was pretty great … I feel really proud.”
Ranked 7th in India’s all-time money list, Sushant created history by bringing home country’s first gold bracelet after shipping the 2017 WSOP $1,000 NLHE-Tag Team Event for $75,319 in prize money along with Nipun Java. In 2018, Luther was the sole-Indian and only female player to grab a bracelet in Event #55: $1,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em for $175,805. Luther now signs on as the Spartan Poker Team Pro. Sushant’s recent memorable title win was the 2019 DeepStack Championship Survivor Event in Vegas.
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Two years ago today I achieved my(and every Poker player’s) wildest dream – winning a World Series Gold Bracelet. The equivalent of an “Olympic Gold” in the Poker world; it’s something many would regard as an unthinkable feat. It was 2018 and I was the ONLY WOMAN out of 80+ participating nations and about 250,000 entries across all open events to have won Gold. Carrying the National Flag up to the stage was an immensely significant and impressionable moment for me and will probably be for Indian Poker as well for years to come. “How is that for a life experience, Professor? Did I dazzle you? Did I jump off the page?” 😉
Truly, it was stellar year for Iyer who cashed in over 20 events including two titles! And tomorrow its time for another WSOP series to begin on GGPoker! Stay tuned to Gutshot for all updates on the same!