India’s poker community received the best possible news last November when PokerBaazi, one of the leading online poker websites in the country, announced the Game Changer. It was purported to become the biggest online tournament ever hosted in the country with an overwhelming guarantee of INR 2 Crores!
After the first two starting flights itself, the guarantee was surpassed, but on the third starting flight, the tournament created a colossal prize pool of over INR 3.77 Crores and made headlines all over. The iconic tournament has gone into the books and India’s biggest online poker winner was crowned yesterday.
The tournament started at 6 pm in the evening and got over at 12.53 am today morning and Prashanth Sekar aka ‘Iveyleague’ won the title. As per reports, a 4-way deal was made on the FT which saw the runner-up, Sikander Rajwade aka ‘advanced_basic’ and ‘brointer‘ (3rd) take the biggest cash prize of INR 37 Lakhs each. Sekar and 4th place finisher Pranay Chawla aka ‘setmeup‘ settled for INR 32 Lakhs and INR 31 Lakhs respectively at the time of the deal.
It was not long for the bubble to burst in the tournament on Day 2. The top 378 places were paid and ‘helter_skelter’ became the bubble boy, busting at 379th place. While it was a long grind, the first 6-figure cash prize was given away at 33rd place – INR 1,09,533.
Some of the notables who finished deep but failed to figure on the Final Table were Vinay B aka ‘Vinstill’ (26th – INR 1,24,641), Day 1B chip leader Kanav Parwal aka ‘sokopa’ (25th – INR 1,24,641), Rajat Sharma aka ‘LungFakeer’ (21st – INR 1,43,526), Lakshpal Singh aka ‘boomtlt23’ (20th – INR 1,43,526), Vikash Khaitan aka ‘Viki.nse’ (19th – INR 1,43,526) and Varun Gupta aka ‘VnutsG’ (14th – INR 1,73,742).
We caught up with Varun Gupta, a well-known circuit player. He elaborated on his overall experience saying, “Game Changer is just the beginning of a new era of poker in the Indian industry. PokerBaazi has set up a new milestone for other websites. Hats off to PokerBaazi for such a smooth run and a beautiful structure. Personally, finishing 14th in such a big event hurts but means a lot. I just required that ‘one-time thing’ last night. I hope to finish it well very soon.“
Leading up to heads-up, eventual runner-up Rajwade was in the chip lead for quite a while, but heads-up saw Sekar putting swift slashes to Rajwade’s stack because the prizes were already decided in the deal. Just 4 minutes after heads-up was reached, Sekar won a big pot in a pre-flop all-in situation with pocket Kings flopping a set against Rajwade’s Sixes.
After the fateful hand where Sekar took the big leap, Sekar proceeded to deal the final blow to Rajwade. Both went all-in on the river, having hit pairs, Rajwade with Kings and Sekar with Aces and Kings. The subsequent turn and river card proved indifferent and Sekar took home the title and glory. Here’s the final hand of the tournament:
The FT had regs like Pranay Chawla aka ‘setmeup’ (4th – INR 16,16,556), Gaurav Mittal aka ‘DragGEReR’ (5th – INR 11,33,100), and Ashish Munot aka ‘OMG_spew’ (6th – INR 8,30,940) who was the biggest online winner till now, winning the recent IOPC Main Event for INR 37.5 Lakhs.
With Game Changer now in the books, PokerBaazi has given its peers in the industry a great challenge to overcome. The fact the tournament crossed the guarantee on Day 1B itself and created a prize pool that almost is double the guarantee is mind-blowing and has set a new challenge for its peers in the industry to work for.
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