Harman Baweja, others to represent Team Mumbai in Poker Championship
Team Mumbai competes with six cities to participate for the first time in the Poker World Cup in UK, next month
Poker faces. A glimpse into Yash Raj Studios, Andheri, today and that's literally all you will see. For the next 48 hours, seven cities will fight it out to win the Match India Poker League. The big prize: The team that bags the maximum points by Saturday evening will represent India at the Nations Cup (Poker World Cup), to be held in the United Kingdom next month.
The brainchild of businessman Raj Kundra, Match India Poker League does not involve money, but points. An online tournament played on the Match India Poker League app, seven members from each of the teams (plus three substitutes) battle it out over a period of two days. At the end of 200 playing hands, points for each player from each team are added to their team score, and the winning city – the team with the highest number of accumulated points – will head to the UK for the World Cup next month.
Even as the jacks, queens and kings of the city up the ante on the tables, mid-day exclusively speaks to celebrity team owner, Harman Baweja. The actor, who started playing the sport eight years ago, said, "The Texas hold'em version of poker has a lot to do with skill, positioning, psychology and probability of understanding numbers. Just like everyone else, my tryst with poker started as a fish, which, in poker terminology, means a loser. I'm a numbers guy, so, I believe that the first three cards [called the Flop], tell a certain story. You either buy the story the other play is selling to you or you don't [or vice versa]. For me, that's the most exciting part of the game."
Baweja states that the Mumbai team is well prepared to compete in the tournament. "I would give myself and my team a fair chance. We are reasonably well prepared. All the players have different styles of playing. It's like having Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid in the same team. Everything depends on how you switch your strategy mid-game to adapt to the game situation." The Team Mumbai captain explained that there would be eight playing sessions of 25 hands each, adding up to a total of 200 hands.
Players optimistic of win
Baweja describes team member Nikunj Jhunjhunwala (quest donk) as an aggressive player, who has been part of this poker scene for the last five years. Speaking to mid-day, Nikunj said, "The beauty of the game is how adaptive you are to the given format. This particular format proves that poker is a skill-based sport and not one based solely on luck. There will be situations where players are dealt the same hand – it all depends on how differently but ably you play each of them."
Pratibha Arya (Shydoll), one of the two female players on the team, added, "I'm what you describe as a TAG (tight and aggressive) player. Our team is diverse in the sense that we employ various styles of playing the sport. We like to keep our basic strategy as simple as possible. We are kicked about getting the chance to participate in the Poker World Cup."
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