Lawyer turned poker player, Ashish Ahuja has been in the headlines for a while now, final tabling events, leading packs with the biggest stack and eventually winning the most recent BPT Kick-Off Title for INR 6.18 Lakhs. The pro has not only won domestic titles but has displayed his exemplary skills at the 2019 WSOP as well, banking the second-biggest score by an Indian player at the series.
Ahuja saw an immense passion within himself for the game and switched his profession from law. His life took a drastic turn for the good when a poker coach like Aditya Agarwal guided him towards the right path. Ahuja advises newcomers to put in enough time and effort in the game, just like any other profession would demand in order to become a good poker player.
Please tell us how did you pick up poker as a career?
I used to be a lawyer and used to practice law at Delhi High Court. Slowly and slowly my passion for poker grew so much that I had to choose one between the two cause both these profession’s demand time and my passion for poker took over my dedication towards law.
Could you tell us about your poker playing in the early days, what did you learn initially, the mistakes you used to make, etc.?
Well I initially started playing poker in 2011 when my friend had come back home from Sydney for summer vacation and he introduced me to this game which was completely new for me. We used to play a Rs. 500 buy-in cash game at his place. I was pretty bad at it like any rookie player. I used to see poker after dark and tried to implement whatever I could grasp from the videos without understanding the situation properly.
What were the challenges you faced?
Well like any other Indian poker player it was really tough for me to explain to my parents why I want to give up on law as my profession and be a professional poker player. The stigma of a gambler is always tagged along if you say you wanna play poker for a living.
What is your game mix like?
Well I mainly prefer playing tournaments over cash games. I only play cash games when I’m taking break from tournaments as the strategy for tournaments is way different as compared to cash games and you don’t wanna mix them up.
What is it that made you a better player?
My life completely changed when I came under the able guidance of Aditya Agarwal. He’s the best coach ever. He completely changed my perspective towards the game.
Who are your role models in the poker fraternity and otherwise?
Well my biggest role model in poker fraternity is Aditya Agarwal. Apart for him my other role models are Daniel Dvoress, Sam Grafton, Sam greenwood, Jason Koon, Stephen Chidwick and Bryn Kenny.
How does your family feel about this career choice?
Well my dad is pretty supportive of the fact that I play poker. Had it not been for him I might have not have been able to make it through. He’s my true super hero.
What’s your advice to a newcomer in poker?
Do not jump in to conclusion that you can be a professional poker player if you’ve had a good start. Poker like any other profession demands you to put enough time in to study to be a good poker player. People generally look in to highs of poker and when they have to face the lows they are not able to cope with it.
What are your plans for the live and online space?
Well online poker scene in India has improved a lot. There are some amazing series lined up for us. Just IOPC concluded, then Adda has their new series coming up for next series. PokerBaazi has it’s PPL series lined up for next month. Am really looking forward to them all. Well for live, I’ll be heading to all domestic series being held in Goa and for International trips I’m gearing up for WSOP later this june.
Any message for our readers
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Some rapid fire questions with Ashish…
Proudest achievement – When I final tabled WSOP Event.
Live poker or online poker? – Online
Favourite Live Poker Destination, Indian and International. – India – Goa, International – Las Vegas.
Poker by day or poker by night? – Poker by night.
Weirdest poker moniker you’ve heard of – ‘BolNaAunty’
Biggest pet peeve at poker tables – When people scream at dealer’s as if they purposely gave them a bad beat.
Favourite poker app – Spartan Poker.