Vaibhav Arora, a lawyer by profession, grinds on the poker tables at night after a hard day at work in the courtroom. Bringing his A-game to the poker table, Arora surely knows how to strategically fight with the right cards. We got in touch with Arora, who’s nominated by PokerHigh as its Player of the Year. Arora, who goes by the nickname ‘Vakeel_sahab,’ got candid about his poker journey, victories, strategies, and more.
Excerpts from the interview…
You have been nominated as the Player of the Year by PokerHigh. How do you feel about that?
I feel ecstatic about the nomination. Being interviewed by Gutshot Magazine is like the icing on the cake. I still have a long road ahead of me in poker and I wish to learn something new through my experiences at the poker tables and improve every day.
You have a winning average of 26% in 681 tournaments, which is an impressive run. What is it that you have in your mind while grinding?
I don’t have anything specific in mind as I have to improvise depending on the player and the tournaments. I try to make short-term goals every time I play a tournament and then try to achieve them step-by-step which really helps me reach the money or even the final table. But yes, I try to finish in the money in every tournament. Once that goal is achieved then I aim for the pay jumps.
I try to keep my mind calm as there are times when you get bad beats or suck outs, but staying calm really helps me focus on the game more which proves to be beneficial in the long run.
What is your strategy when you are on the final table (FT) or during a heads-up?
Heads-up or FT, the strategy actually depends on the players I am going up against. If I have played against them in the past, I’ll have some notes or remarks on them; I will try to go with the game theory optimal (GTO) strategy. If it’s a completely unknown player then I go with the exploitative strategy and try to make the other players fold a lot and steal their blinds.
It also depends a lot on the stack size and then improvising accordingly. I don’t go with a particular mindset on the FT as every game is different and I need to change my gameplay according to my stack size and also consider the Independent Chip Model (ICM).
What do you like the most about PokerHigh?
I have been associated with PokerHigh for a long time now and it’s a great platform. The best part about PokerHigh is their team which is available 24/7 for any assistance either through their customer support or their representatives.
PokerHigh offers some great deals on rakeback and also bonuses which matter a lot in the long term. I was also nominated by PokerHigh in the India Poker Championship (IPC) awards 2019 which took place in Goa and won the highest winning tournament player award for the year 2019. So PokerHigh and I go a long way back and it’s always a pleasure playing on their action-filled tables.
How were you introduced to poker? How long have you been playing?
I was introduced to poker way back when I was in law college by my friends. It started off as fun but then when I started reading about the game it was very intriguing and I just kept playing. And obviously making a few bucks in your college days is a great feeling.
I took poker seriously when I won an online satellite for a live event in Goa wherein my buy-in, flight tickets, and stay were complimentary. So that was my first live tournament and I came seventh in that same tournament. That’s when my journey in poker began. It’s been almost 12-13 years since I started playing poker.
One poker strategy you swear by?
I try to spot the fish on the table and ensure that I build a good stack in a tournament by playing more hands with them and then dominating the table. I also believe bankroll management is really important for a poker player and I try to play tournaments that are within the limits of my bankroll.
Playing tournaments that are out of your budget will always change your gameplay and you will never be able to succeed in the long run.
ALSO READ: How To Play On PokerHigh?
Can you share with us what your grinding schedule looks like?
I am a lawyer by profession and hence have a hectic work routine during the day. I try to play the feature events which normally take place between 8 PM to 9.30 PM. I aim for the weekend tourneys as I am properly rested and play with a fresh mind from 8 PM onwards. On average, the tournaments run for approximately eight hours so I ensure that I am properly rested before I get grinding.
You have been actively grinding in the India Online Poker Championship (IOPC). What do you think about this series?
Yes, I have been active in IOPC and have won a few events in the previous editions. I am really looking forward to IOPC in January 2022. The best part about this poker fest is that it offers some great tournaments for every kind of player as the events range from ₹500 to ₹25,000 which brings in a lot of variety.
What are your plans and expectations for the upcoming edition of IOPC?
I was recently playing the mega satty for the marquee events (1.1K buy-in 1-seat GTD to IOPC’s marquee events) and shipped it. As the work from home policy is being implemented owing to the COVID-19 scare, I will try to make the most of the work-from-home situation.
What do you prefer – live poker or online poker?
Though it looks like online is the future, I always prefer playing live poker games.
Any plans of playing live poker in the coming months?
I am waiting to hit the tables as soon as the COVID-19 situation improves and the live tournaments begin.
Where do you see yourself in the coming years when it comes to poker?
I have been studying a lot about poker strategies and also taking a few online courses to improve my game so I am hoping for the best in the coming years.
Most memorable FT?
The most memorable FT was the WPT 2018 Goa edition wherein I made it to the FT and came third in the (₹20,000/- shootout event).
One player you admire?
My favorite tournament poker player is Bencb and my favorite cash game player is without a doubt, Phil Ivey.
One player you wish to beat on the FT?
Definitely Daniel Negreanu.
Your poker inspiration?
Again Daniel Negreanu as he’s been consistent and ranked high among pros for so many years. Negreanu’s journey inspires me a lot.
Arora’s exceptional gameplay has made him one of the most sought-after poker players in the country and won him several titles. Through our Gutshot Player of the Year series, we look forward to bringing such inspirational players and their stories to the forefront. We wish to see Arora clinch many more titles in the coming future.
Amarylisa Gonsalves is a Content Writer at Gutshot Magazine. Advancing from a marketing background, she found her calling in writing. She takes delight in exploring genres and is a curious learner. Patient and ambivert, she believes in letting her work speak for itself. Apart from content writing, she finds solace in writing poetry by manifesting herself through words. Additionally, she adores indulging in drawing and DIY crafts.
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