Bangalore based Vinay B, popularly known as ‘vinstill’ in the poker world, scored his biggest ever cash in an event – live or online, when he finished 4th in the Baby Dragon for HKD 331,000 (27Lac) during the 28th Edition of the Macau Poker Cup earlier this month.
An unbelievable story, the semi-professional poker player shares his experience of the event and the unlikeliest of paths that led him to it. Team IPN managed to gather an in-depth piece on his journey that lets you experience it along with him, every step of the way.
“2 months ago I got a call from my in-laws that they are planning a Singapore cruise vacation and I had to make it for the holiday! I quickly looked at events in Macau around the scheduled dates of Jan. It’s always been a dream to play in Macau and experience the mania there as I had seen many big pros from India make a mark there. I planned a pack of about 3l INR totally which included baby dragon also and a couple of side events! Unfortunately my pack didn’t sell fully only a small part sold but that did not deter me! I was still very positive to go there and do well. I was going through a huge downswing of sorts in the online scene but I was always confident about my game as I had good experience and have been playing poker for 6 years now. I also started putting in lot of studying recently and subscribed to Raiseyouredge.com whose mentor is ‘Bencb’ who is an online beast.
We reached Macau on 31st Jan. Reached early to the casino and went to Pokerstars LIVE in the beautiful City of Dreams destination. I was mesmerized by the venue. Had always seen it in pictures and to be there in the same place was an awesome feeling. I registered myself and got an ID card done and then regged for Megastack 5k event. It was a very good event with a SS of 30k and 30 min blind levels. We got a feel of the Macau field that day and grinded our way till almost day 1 end and 1 hour before it ended we got busted with A10 vs 1010 for a <10bb stack! I was happy with the way I played and came back next day and regged for the satty of Baby dragon and couldn’t get much going there too. Quickly went and regged Baby dragon day 1 A. SS was 10k with 40 min blind levels and 25/50 blinds. In 10 mins of the start we picked up AdKd, we raised UTG, got re-raised from BB, we just flatted to see the flop. Flop was A8x one diamond, the villain checked, we bet he called. Turn was a 7of diamond, he now leads out we flat. And river another diamond, we complete our nut flush. He bets half the pot, at this point we go all-in, he snaps and shows set of 7’s. We got a double up very early on and slowly started building on out stack. By the end of the day the blinds were beginning to get steeper and we managed to finish at 30k stack with 15bb to come back next day! 250 players played day1a and about 60 survived.
Although we has15bb stack, I always knew that 1 double up and things to kick-off from there for us. I was very patient, never lost hope and also it was announced that 99 would make it to ITM. We picked our spots and kept the stack constant at around 15bb and waited to get a double up. Others kept busting very fast and soon we were near the bubble stage, and we got moved to a table where Team Pokerstars pro and Indian legend Aditya Agarwal was seated, was fortunate to get a seat right next to him! His inputs helped me tremendously at that stage. During the stone cold bubble stage we got dealt QQ, played the hand extremely passive, we flatted a utg+1 raise., extremely tight player, definitely put him a very strong range and holding, 998 flop to a c-bet from him we shoved and got called and he tabled JJ and we doubled up there and very next moment the bubble also burst on the other table and we were ITM. There was another time in Megastack where our QQ did magic when we raised UTG+1 and BB after a losing a big pot previous hand shoved on us and we snapped and he tabled K10dd. Flop was k10x 1 diamond, turn was A diamond and river J. A super sweat that we somehow survived! QQ has been a key hand for us during this series may be perhaps my Queen was with me this time. My wife Aditi accompanied me to a poker tournament for the first time. She has always supported me in my poker career so far and understood my passion for the game eventually ,ofcourse we have had our fights every now and then about me not spending enough time with her and our kid but this time she really showed her support wholeheartedly during the event.I truly thank her for being with me as a moral support all along.
Anyways, Soon Adi Agarwal got busted at 92nd place and as he was leaving he told me “goodluck and play solid”. That comment made me focus harder on the game and I just played solid. Picked right spots when getting short to pick up blinds and double up whenever we got it in good and we ran well. When 27 players were left tables were redrawn and 3 Indians were left in the event Sumit Sapra , Vivek Rughani and me all got drawn into the same table(feature table) in seat 1,2,3! It was some proud Indian camaraderie happening when we were sitting and getting some good rail behind us. After sometime Sumit got busted who played some very solid poker and then Vivek also got busted too who was on super swingy pitch on a rollercoaster of sorts .We lost their company but didn’t lose hope. Average stacks were always 15-20bb.
When about 14 ppl were left we doubled up with Ak against Aj. Sitting at 23bb we were perhaps at 2nd or 3rd in chips and next hand we pick up Ako again. This was a spot which was extremely difficult as we faced another all-in from UTG+1 another player who had similar stack to ours but covering us by a bit. I decided to let go of the AK although had a read on him as loose aggro .It seemed like a slip situation but I thought I should avoid it. This is obviously one of those folds which is rare but I did it thinking a situation where ICM is in play and FT bubble too. We made it to FT with 1.15m and 3rd in chips with about 22bb avg at about 15bb.
We didn’t have much going on the FT where we lost an early pot and came down to 9m in chips. And was mostly card dead throughout and soon became 10bb. By then we had already lost 4 players and 5 left. An unimaginable turn of events happened for us and a huge roller coaster ride. We pick up JJ and lost our entire stack to KK and left half a bb. We were auto all-in and got doubled with 27o and then all-in again with K4o and tripled this time as both villains wanting to bust me with q high. K high was good here, as none hit a pair. We made a crazy comeback and then picked up 55 and went all-in again, and busted the short stack guy who had q2 and finally four of us left.
We finally busted after losing 2 hands back to back A9s vs K7o and then AQs vs JJ. I was disappointed to have finished 4th after making a sick comeback but then this is how poker is and took it in my stride and was satisfied with the finish. The winner was going to be paid 1.2m HKD and a platinum pass worth 30kusd for Bahamas so it would been an amazing finish had we made it to the top but for someone who couldn’t ever imagine even playing an International event and somehow made it to the event without even able to sell his pack, it was a dream come true for me or for that matter any poker player I guess. I had to come back to India for some prior engagements so couldn’t play the red dragon main event, but definitely going to go back to Macau sooner than one would imagine! Absolutely amazing destination macau is after Vegas I guess which is any serious poker player’s ultimate dream. Maybe Vegas coming soon for me too, never know!