#1 Gearing up for PPL Spring’18: PokerBaazi Team Pro Abhishek Panda

PPL Blog Series Feb 2018

The PokerBaazi Premier League (PPL) Spring ’18 Edition kicks off on February 12th– a 7-day series headlined by a 1 Crore GTD MAIN EVENT. As we inch closer to the much awaited series, we decided to catch up with PokerBaazi Team Pro and PPL Winter ’17 High-Roller Event Winner – Abhishek Panda.

Known for his great table presence and solid game style, the Pro shares his views on playing MTTs and the various strategies that he incorporates during different stages of bigger events. This insightful interview also highlights common mistakes and misconceptions related to late stage play. Here is what the reigning champ had to say:

“Hi Guys, glad to be doing this. Poker in India has grown so much in the last year or so, MTTs especially. With so many good players around, it’s hard to find and own an edge over the rest of the field. It is for this reason that mistakes, as small as they may seem, need to be avoided – the slightest error can be the difference between a 5 digit score (or more!) and brick city. This fact is truer in bigger tournaments where the field of players is larger and the odds of maneuvering through to the top are smaller.

I don’t particularly have a set strategy for specific tournaments because your strategy depends on your table draw and adjusting to your opponents. High-roller events are an exception since most high-rollers are deep-stack tournaments with longer blind levels. For the initial few levels it plays like a deep stack cash game. I mostly start with a tight aggressive style and adjust according to the opponents on the table. It’s important not to be too loose with your pre-flop ranges because the mistakes gets compounded in later streets in turns and rivers.

There are also important adjustments that need to be made in real time during tournaments, for example if you are sitting on a table with relatively tighter players you can open up your ranges from each position and if someone starts playing back and 3betting a lot you can again tighten up your range to adjust and throw in some 4bet bluffs.

A common mistake I see people making is getting impatient when they become short stacked. In High-Roller events with longer levels and deeper stacks you shouldn’t be willing to jam way too wide unless the table is full of tight guys who are not calling optimally. Bleeding or being knocked down to a stack of 10-14 BB isn’t necessarily so short that you need to shove mediocre hands.

When I won the High-Roller Event last year, I started off the tournament playing a tight aggressive style and managed to build a good stack early on. One major hand deep in the tournament when BTN opened I 3bet SB with AKo and BB 4bet. We had both 60 bb effective to start with and bb was a very good regular who definitely has some 4bet bluffs in his range. I decided to 5bet shove and got called by QQ and was lucky enough to clip a King to reach one of the top 3 stacks.

It was smooth sailing from then on as I don’t think I fell below 20BB after that point. The final table was a pretty tough table with bunch of good tournament regulars like Sahil Agarwal, Vidwath Shetty and Ashish Munot, but was fortunate enough to pick some hands in crucial spots and ended up coming out on top.

There is no doubt that beating a large field of players requires luck. This luck is usually restricted to ‘winning your flips’, with the occasional cooler going your way. While this part of the game isn’t in our hands, what we CAN control is the kind of spots we take and put ourselves into, thus reducing those ‘sticky’ situations. Stick to the basics, a strong solid style of play works well in these kind of fields!”

Thank you Abhishek, and good luck for the upcoming season of the PokerBaazi Premier League!