A couple of weeks ago, PokerBaazi hosted one of the most prestigious online poker series ever in India. It was the one and only, Asian Poker Tour Online Series 2021, finally making its way back to our country, even though it was played online. The series boasted an incredible INR 8 Crores guaranteed prize pool and rings and trophies for the biggest winners.
The series certainly lived up to its expectations as the players helped crush the super high guarantees and make it an ever exciting affair for everyone involved. The Main Event of the Series featured an incredible INR 2 Crores guaranteed prize pool. 240 players were able to make it to the Day 2 of the Main Event but only one would be crowned the Champion. It took almost 6 hours for us to have our first APT Online Series India Main Event Champion!
APT 2021 Main Event Champion Rajat Mahajan
Rajat Mahajan took down the massive tournament and wrote his name down in the history books of Indian poker. India Poker News was able to get in touch with the winner himself and talk to him about his poker journey and what Rajat Mahajan is all about. (transcript below)
PS: Rajat, tell us a bit about yourself as a person. Your age, family background and what are you upto right now other than shipping massive poker tournaments online!
RM: I’m Rajat Mahajan, 33 years old, a happily married guy, a B. Tech graduate. I’m currently working as an entrepreneur/marketing consultant in the Oil & Gas Industry. I consider myself a semi-professional poker player.
PS: How did you start on your poker journey? When did you first pick up the game?
RM: I started my journey in 2009, playing low stakes cash games with friends. I used to play very occasionally till 2012, but then started playing more often thereafter. Till 2017, I used to play only cash games. I started taking online MTTs seriously in 2017/18, when I won my first online tournament on Pokerbaazi (for a small sum of 1.25 lakh). Now I play only online MTTs.
PS: Congratulations on your APT Main Event victory, tell us some excerpts from the tournament
RM: I qualified for the main event spending a total of 3-4 bullets across the 4 days of qualification. I was perhaps 7th or 8th (with 88+ BB) in chips when Day 2 started. Initially, I was playing relatively snug until the money bubble.
After that, the first major hand I remember was with ‘Squanderer’, where I cracked his AA with my QQ (after turning a set). After this hand, I was in the chiplead. The next major hand that I remember was against a decent reg, Blind vs Blind.
I was in SB, and I had K 2 on a K 7 7 K 5 board; the big blind made a huge overbet on the river, which of course I snap called (he had Q high and got eliminated). When the final 2 tables remained, I started gathering momentum (at that time I was down to 12 BB). I picked up AK a couple of times, and each time got doubled up. On the FT bubble, I eliminated another guy with TT > QJo.
On the 1st hand of the final table, UTG open shoved 30BB, and I looked down at JJ from middle position! I decided to make the call, thinking that even if I lose the hand, I will still have 42BBs left. When the money went in, I wasn’t that surprised to see UTG hold AKs.
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He spiked a K on the flop, but I rivered a set on the 9 K Q x J board to propel myself into the chiplead. From that point on, it was kind of smooth sailing until only 3 players were left. I lost a couple of major pots 3 handed; I was down to 22BB at that point. Then I got a bit lucky in 2 major spots, which helped us get down to final 2. The final hand I had 88, my opponent shoved 3x pot on 6-7-10 flop, and since I had him covered well, I decided to make the call. The 9 on the turn sealed the deal!
PS: How does your family feel about you playing poker?
RM: My parents and my wife are very supportive of me playing poker, as they have seen my game progress over the past couple of years. They do understand that this sport is more about your skill than simply luck (in the long run).
My wife has been a pillar of support. She takes avid interest in my sessions, and patiently listens to me about my hand histories. Off late, she has started watching poker videos on YouTube, and I will not be surprised if I see her on the online circuits anytime soon!
PS: Who are your role models in the poker fraternity and otherwise?
RM: In the global poker fraternity, I look up to many players like Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Stephen Sontheimer, Bryn Kenney, Stephen Chidwick, Benjamin Rolle, Jonathan Little and a few others. In the Indian community, I’m inspired by seasoned players like Aditya Agarwal, Aditya Sushant, Abhinav Iyer and Sriharsha D, and young guns such as Gaurav Sood & Arsh Grover.
PS: What are your future aspirations when it comes to playing poker?
RM: I prefer living in the moment; for now I want to study, learn and grind more – and just want to enjoy this sport which I’m quite passionate about! Rajat sounds like a pretty sorted guy doesn’t he? His knowledge and love for the game is also quite evident in the way he talks. Soon after his Main Event victory, he went on to ship the 10L GTD The Pride on PokerBaazi to continue his incredible run!
We’re pleased to have spoken to another fantastic talent and player from our India poker industry and cannot wait to talk to more players and promote players who are currently crushing the online scene in the country!