A Crackerjack at Life, GC 3.0 Runner-up Shardul Parthasarathi finds his one true calling in Poker


Game Changer 3.0 has now come to a close and it’s safe to say that the joy ride was eventful as ever! Siddhanth ‘ender’ Kripalani battled against rising star Shardul ‘duuurrrr’ Parthasarathi heads-up before winning the title and a massive prize of INR 40.02 Lakhs. Parthasarathi, on the other hand, took home INR 26.49 Lakhs for his runner-up finish.

Shardul Parthasarathi is an up and comer in the domestic circuit. Originally from Mumbai, Parthasarathi is an Electronics and Instrumentation Engineer from VIT, Vellore and delved into the world of poker way before he entered college, however he started playing fulltime only a couple months back. Parthasarathi has dabbled in many avenues, including being a tournament director at PokerDangal for about a year and a half, working in Real Estate Consultancy for two and a half years, running his own undertaking and now, crushing tourneys like never before.

‘Poker gives me the flexibility and the ease to work from home…. I feel really fortunate to get to play in such events and the very score definitely pushes me to be better at the game.’

Through his runner-up win, we got to connect with the pro and had him narrate his most memorable moments from the tourney, talked about his winning hand, his passions and interests aside the game, and a support system from within the circuit, among other things. Take a look:

Hi Shardul, congratulations on your win! Tell us, is this your biggest score till date?

Yes! It’ such a dream come true for me. I’ve won a few small tourneys previously on various platforms. In fact, I started playing professionally ever since the lockdown was initiated. That, in turn has resulted into a boom and tourney guarantees are being crushed everywhere. I feel I’m really fortunate to get to play in such events and the very score definitely pushes me to be better, which is much needed for my bankroll and for me, emotionally as well.

How long have you been playing these big guaranteed tournaments? Were you familiar with the Game changer structure?

Yes, I have played all the 1CR+ GTD tourneys on Baazi. In fact, I’m a regular at daily majors as well.

I remember even my first tournament win was also on Baazi. It was a 10L GTD tournament. I absolutely love the platform!’

What are your plans for this month? Is it safe to say you’ll grind the entire PPL series?

This month is going to be action packed, for sure! I’m definitely looking forward to grind PPL, and there’s a massive series on one of the international sites. Like I said, this score arrived at an apt time for me.

So, are you a full-time tournament pro? Or do you like to play cash games as well?

I don’t consider myself a pro to be honest. I put a lot of efforts in tournaments only and investing my time and energy in studying as well. In terms of cash games, I play only live in Goa whenever I travel there. With online gameplay, its only tourneys. There are lots of players I look up to and learn from, some are younger even but I learn from these guys on a daily basis. They have really helped a lot in improving my game. So even though I am playing poker full time, I do have a long way to go before becoming a pro.

Our readers would like to know about your support system or your chosen family who has been helping you throughout?

Yes, most certainly. In fact, this is a perfect time to thank all my friends! Sahil Mehboobani is one of those people. He has helped me with a lot of basic stuff that is required for every poker player to start their journey. Then there’s Neel Joshi, Sheehari Harsha, Anmol and the list goes on and on.

Abhinav Iyer is another close friend of mine. In fact, he just went on and won the bracelet and I guess he is the biggest motivation for an Indian player! All these guys have helped me in one way or another and I take this opportunity to thank them.

How did you start playing poker? Could you tell us about your early days with poker?

I was familiar with the game way before going to Engineering college. In fact, I was the one who taught my friends in our hostel. Back then, we used to play just for fun. I’ve played for as small as INR 100 buy-in, all small games. We just knew the rules of the game and used to play on weekends. Eventually, it became a little serious when our group of friends used to travel to Bangalore and play real cash games. Even then, we were just travelling for playing and didn’t really spend enough time to actually learn strategies, but I fell in love with the game! Gradually, I noticed the downswings and the reasons behind it. I put in a lot of efforts in learning the game and I’m still at a stage where the learning hasn’t stopped.

Are you a movie fanatic? Any poker favorites you can recall?

I loved the movie ROUNDERS! But more than the movies, I used to watch a lot of free content on YouTube. Shows like Poker after Dark, High Stakes Card Games were my favorites. Tom Dwan was my idol back in the days. All of this and more motivated me immensely.

How much time and effort do you think you’ve invested and continue to invest in your game? Let us in on some secret strategies of yours!

I remember this very famous quote, ‘Poker is the hardest way to make easy money’ and ever since I read it, I realized the truth and gravity behind the same. From the outside, it just looks like a simple game where you have 2 cards and 5 community cards, and the best 5 cards win but these are just rules of the game. How you play and how you form a formidable strategy reflects on whether and how much you can win.

I consistently do hand reviews with my coaches, identify my mistakes and work on it. I usually play 5 days a week, on the rest I completely focus on learning the game. It is like a job, may be even little bit tougher than a full-time job. Your success only depends on how much time you invest in learning and improving yourself.

On the other hand, there are a lot of perks being in this profession. I get to spend time with my family, I can work from home or anywhere really, and I can choose when and how much to work on it. Especially in these unfortunate times, I feel blessed that I am still in an industry which is growing ever so rapidly.

There are things outside poker which are as important. Grinding for long hours really takes a toll on your form so you really need to maintain yourself physically and mentally. I do work on my fitness, follow a proper diet. I make sure that I’m rested well enough every day. I guess self-discipline is a very important trait if you want to be in this profession for long. I have been working with Bencb (Founder of Raise Your Edge) and he advises on everything in and around the game, including leading a balanced life when it comes to playing poker. I’ve found it to be very useful over the past few years.

I do watch all the big events’ final tables to observe what other players are doing. It helps my game a lot.

Coming back to your Game Changer win, can you share with us any unforgettable moments from the tournament?

Of course! So, at the end of Day 1, I was a little disappointed bagging only 18 big blinds. I had lost a big flip just before the end of the day. I spoke to my friends and one of them really motivated me and made me realize it’s not a bad stack. On hearing him out, to I thought, ‘Yes! I can still spin it up!’ I remember getting lucky in a flip where I did hit a 9 on the river to make a set of nines. Then I was at a right end of cooler when I got it in with KK against QQ when about 100 players were left.

I became the Top 5 stack with that win! After that I was really focused. There have been many times when I find myself in this spot but end up making mistakes and finishing 10th or 15th. This time, I made sure I don’t over play any hand.

Did you know any of the players at the Final Table?

Yes, I knew ‘ender’. He played beautifully. Although, he put a lot of pressure on me. He knew I had all the ICM pressure in the world and this guy really proved his mettle. He’d won Destiny back to back and now he has won the Game Changer! He definitely deserved to win this.

I got very lucky when I hit my flush with AQ 5 handed all in pre flop. I got that double up through ‘ender’ only. I think that hand made a difference between finishing 2nd instead of finishing 5th or 4th.

Share with us your feelings right after the tourney ended?

I was getting a lot of messages throughout the final table, be it friends from the poker community or my old friends from school and college, everyone was texting me giving best wishes and congratulating me on the same. The feeling hadn’t sunk in until the very next day when I woke up.

But in all entirely, I can’t wait for things to get better and I’m looking forward to participating in Pokerbaazi LIVE as well pretty soon.

Thank you, Shardul for speaking with us. Hope to see you win more and bag countless titles in the future!