Here’s how a Citibank Marketer bags the Pokerbaazi Summit Title and 5+ lakhs in prize money


The previous week, Pokerbaazi witnessed a rise in online tournament action especially in their primetime tournament INR 20L GTD The Summit, featuring an INR 8,250 buy-in for INR 24.83 Lakhs prize pool. MTT regular Mandar ‘Thewall233’ Darade walked away with the title and the INR 5.48 Lakhs up-top prize money after defeating Abhishek ‘sharktops’ Jaiswal for INR 3.84 Lakhs. The very win brought Darade a profit of over INR 4 Lakhs on the platform.

Mandar doesn’t consider himself a pro yet, but has been in the poker circuit for a while now, winning tourneys – big and small on different platforms. Originally from Pune, Mandar majored in Computer Science and Engineering from Aurangabad along with MH and MBA from Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi. Sales and Marketing is his forte and he’s been working with Citibank as a Digital Marketer for the past 6 years now. This is where he finds his true passion for the sport that is Poker.

‘…it was a moment to withhold! One that you play poker for, one that you always fondly recall, and one that you never forget,’ Mandar talks about his Summit win at Baazi. Read on to know exactly what this moment was and get to know the player through his ardent journey in poker and life.

Also, we love how he frequently links the game with his evident love for cricket!


  1. Hi Mandar, congratulations on your win! We’d love to know more about your journey with poker.

It’s been about four years now I realized my love for the game, all thanks to my roommates. I haven’t looked back since! In fact, Pokerbaazi was also referred to me by my friend.

My experience so far has been phenomenal with Baazi. I love the tourneys they keep coming up with.

  1. Tell us the story behind your screen name ‘thewall233’

So, ‘The Wall’ refers to Rahul Dravid. 233 at Adelaide, 2003 is his best innings in test cricket. I am a die-hard fan of Rahul Dravid; he is one of my favorite sportspersons. His persona signifies that even with limited natural ability yet having discipline, patience and perseverance, a studious attitude and long hours of concentration, one can achieve wonders in life. And the very skills are applicable and highly essential in a sport like Poker.

  1. Coming back to the tourney, do you recall any favorite moments from your win – a bluff you ran three streets, big pot you won maybe?

The reverse actually, a couple of calls with marginal holdings. One was when about 18 were left, I was facing a pot bet size for about 50% of my stack on the river. I had second pair on the flop and turn and river were again over cards. I ended up making up the call, that put me in top 3 stacks and gave me more space to maneuver.

  1. What was the last hand you played?

Villain open jammed 20 odd BBs during HU, I snapped with AJ, and was delighted to see V holding A6. Fortunately, AJ held and it was moment to withhold! One that you play poker for, one that you always fondly recall, and one that you never forget.

  1. How do you think poker’s helping you survive during this pandemic?

Being a working professional, it’s a bit of challenge to make time for poker and hence, I just play on evenings and weekends. Having said that, Poker has been a great passion, in the sense that it’s better to be thinking of the hands you played, or the spots you took, or the mistakes you made, rather than worrying about what’s happening in the rest of the world and the things you can’t control. And nothing like it when the results favor you.

  1. How do you think you form a connection between real life and poker?

I believe they could not be more similar. When life check raises you, you have to sometimes let go of your holdings, minimize the losses and make peace with it. And sometimes when life puts a gun to your head, or an opponent starts putting pressure on the table, you have to pull out a bigger gun, or do any one of the other hundred and forty-six other things and play back.

  1. Any funny poker story you remember worth sharing?

There was this hand in cash games at 100/200, where I over bet bluff jammed 70 bigs into a pot of 50 bigs with QJss, Villain took a hell lot of time to take action. The time between you making a huge bluff and V thinking it out long before calling or folding is the most painful feeling in Poker. Here, V ultimately called late in the extra time. And to my surprise, the chips started flowing towards my direction! Turns out V had called with Q high but lost on kicker!

  1. Your favorite hand in poker?

10J suited!

  1. Any famous poker quotes you remember which you think are applicable to real life as well?

Actually, there are other real-life quotes that are more applicable in Poker. One is by the great Shane Warne: “80% of the game of Cricket is played in the mind”. I believe Poker is also as much mental if not more, as much it is technical. Second one, by Harvey Specter in Suits: “Don’t play the odds. Play the man”. This is so applicable esp. if you are playing exploitative poker.

  1. What would you advise new players entering the poker industry?

Not being a professional, I myself am on the look-out for advice and tips that could help me. Having said so, there are three things that could help new players and I wish maybe I could have done differently in the past 4 years.

One: Constantly keep learning. There is already enough material out there for free and people are willing to provide a helping hand. Secondly, patience can be your best friend in Poker. Have faith in the process. And thirdly, following BR Management and not playing with scared money. If the money matters to you, you are playing the wrong stakes. This is more applicable in cash games format.

Lovely to speak with you Mandar! Hope we get to witness your presence at the felts even more.