Poker-face champ

Master poker player, Aditya Agarwal, who recently became the first Indian to be in top 1% of World Series of Poker, shares insider tricks to help amateur poker players ace the game

When 30-year-old Aditya Agarwal tells you, "It's important to be level-headed in poker, and always work hard on your game, if you want to stay at the top," you take him seriously. After all, the 30-year-old is one of India's master poker players. Having started playing poker in 2004, with his dorm friends during his freshman year at Drexel University in USA, Agarwal went on to participate on many online and on-ground poker tournaments, internationally.

Aditya Agarwal
Kolkata boy, Aditya Agarwal at one of the poker tournaments

In fact, at the recent 2015 World Series of Poker, a series of annual poker tournaments in Las Vegas, Agarwal became the first Indian to be in top 1%, finishing at the 71 position out of 6,420 players, with a net cash winning of approximately $96,000.

Agarwal shares a few tricks of the trade for amateur gamers:
1. Start by playing games that won't affect you financially. As you get better, it's fine to move up on stakes, but always be conservative with your bankroll.

2. Don't look at your cards until it's your turn; observe your opponents as they look at their cards. If you do this long enough, you can gauge on the strength of their hands most of the times. For example, looking at your first card, then quickly looking at the second, and putting them down is a sign of a very strong hand. People tend to get protective of their good hands and want to hide them straightaway. Sometimes, people look at one card, and slowly try to squeeze the other; this also is a sign that their first card was a good card like a Queen, King or Ace and they are hoping to look at a similar second card.

3. The key to catching a bluff is to find a trait in the opposite person that you can pick up on and be sure that's something they do when they are nervous. For example, I have placed big bets with extremely average hands, but I picked up on the player either shaking his legs too much, or leaning backward with folded hands.

4. Players who look away from the table a lot, or stare into their phone, or seem a tad out of it, it's usually because their hand is bad. Attentive players observe other's actions, and are highly interested in the hand — watch out for these.

5. You can also gauge the other player's hand by his voice pitch. A higher-than-usual voice implies a strong hand (too excited), as does an unnaturally low voice as the player tries to compensate for this and overdoes it.

6. Observe the eyes of the other person. The pupil dilation is impossible to control, especially to non-brown coloured eyes. This is an indication of a strong hand.

7. Control your emotions. Anger, frustration; fear could often lead to poor decision-making.

Did you know?

The longest poker game in history is believed to have lasted eight years, five months and three days, sometime in the 1800s. The latest known official Guinness World Record for the longest game was five days and 11 hours.

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  • Rodney Higgins28-Jul-2015

    I had the great pleasure to sit next to Adi in event 28 at the WSOP, unfortunately though with him to my left which gave him position on virtually every hand against me. His play was excellent and he was the standout player at the table. More than that though he was a genuinely nice and friendly guy to spend time with and I look forward to maybe seeing him again at another tournament, maybe the WSOPE where I am sure he will be excelling again. Great advice here for the starting player.

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