Ritwik Khanna realised his passion for poker in 2016. 5 years on, he has dedicated himself to the sport of poker and everyone in the country who follows poker knows who he is. The 23 year old has swiftly gone up through the rankings, playing online MTT’s and is close to breaking the INR 2 Crores mark in lifetime cashes!
After his graduation, Ritwik got an opportunity to join PokerBaazi where he met Chirag Sodha, one of the most popular faces in the Indian Poker industry and the person who helped Ritwik grow as a poker player as well as giving him meaningful advice about how to be the best he can be!
Ritwik has now created himself a decent fan following as well by streaming for PokerBaazi on their YouTube channel. His live streams are not only entertaining but he also pays good attention to the chat and educates the viewers about the game.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that he earned his biggest payout ever when he finished Runner-Up in the INR 1 Crore GTD The Millionaire at Spartan Poker! At just 23, Ritwik has grown comfortable with the highs and lows of playing poker professionally. From almost losing his bankroll to becoming a highly respected player in the Indian poker circuit, he has seamlessly gone through the gears and come out on top!
India Poker News decided to have a fun interview with the man himself to get to know more about his personal life and a quirky rapid fire to make things more interesting!
IPN: Hi Ritwik, tell us a bit about yourself. About your education, childhood, your dreams growing up, your interests in life.
RK: I’m 23 years old. I live in Noida and completed my schooling from DPS Noida. For my graduation, I was in Mumbai at Jai Hind College where I did B.Com. At the same time, I started preparing for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam as well. I was able to clear the first level of the examination but ended up putting all of that on hold because that’s when I realised my passion for poker.
I play a lot of cricket and wanted to become a professional cricketer when I was still at school. I love listening to music, electronic to be specific. I wasn’t too bad at studies either. However that changed in college because I was playing poker the whole time but I still managed to pass!
I have a lot of friends who are poker enthusiasts as well. We play regularly and fortunately I’m the only one who’s pursuing it professionally. We can talk about all things related to poker because they’re pretty well versed themselves.
Coming back to my poker life, I grind at home, created a grinding station for myself during the lockdown. That is how I was able to start putting in more volume and learn more about the game. Hopefully, I can keep on growing in this space and help the industry grow as well!
Read on to know more about the ‘Fisherman’ in town
IPN: What did you want your job to be when you were a kid?
RK: When I was a kid, I didn’t really know anything! I wanted to become a cricketer for most of my childhood. Once I reached 11th or 12th standard, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in finance which is why I took on the CFA examination and did B.Com.
IPN: What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
RK: I’m scared of a lot of things myself but I haven’t really done anything scary so let me just tell you one incident that happened with me and my friends when we had gone to Mcleodganj. We were having breakfast and randomly decided to go check out a river which we could hear streaming by but weren’t able to see.
We decided to go downhill and let me tell you, that hill was literally a hill. There was no path, no space to walk, just a slope with trees and bushes. And that’s when it started raining! The slope became slippery making it even harder to walk. Each of us had leeches stuck to our legs and feet.
We thought we wouldn’t be able to go back uphill but somehow we were able to do that! So that’s basically the scariest experience of my life so far. Also, I’m scared of aliens. Jaadu from the movie ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ gave me a whole lot of sleepless nights back in the day!
IPN: If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world and money wasn’t an issue, where would you go?
RK: I have been to the United States twice when I was young but I would just love to go back there because I wasn’t able to go everywhere I wanted to and especially go to Las Vegas! I have been to Europe as well but I just prefer the USA.
IPN: Do you have a Pet? If Yes, which pet do you have and his/her name?
RK: I have a dog. She’s a toy poodle and her name is Molly and she’s the cutest and the most wonderful little doggo in the whole wide world!
IPN: What’s your favorite book? What was the last book you have read?
RK: I don’t usually read a lot of books but I recently decided to change that and started asking my friends for book recommendations. I actually borrowed ‘Molly’s Game’ which is not about my dog but about poker only!
IPN: What’s your favourite cuisine?
RK: Let me tell you what I don’t like. I’m pretty fussy. I don’t like eating vegetables. I can live my life eating Indian chicken dishes. I like Italian food but Indian chicken is the thing.
IPN: What’s your dream car?
RK: I don’t really have an interest in cars but I do love driving them.
IPN: Which superpower do you wish you had?
RK: I don’t watch a lot of movies or shows. But I love Game Of Thrones and I’d like to be like Arya Stark and be a part of the Faceless Men so that I can make the world a better place.
IPN: If you could learn one new skill right now, what would it be?
RK: I’d love to learn how to make music. Just learn as many musical instruments I can and have a go at it!
IPN: What kind of music do you like to hear while playing poker?
RK: While playing poker, I only listen to electronic music. Dubstep, tropical house, melodic techno.
IPN: What’s been your best poker vacation?
RK: All my poker vacations so far have been in India only. In Kolkata, Goa and Sikkim. Sikkim would be the best because that’s where I turned a profit. I lost money in the other two places!
IPN: If you could move to any other state, which would it be?
RK: I’d love to move to Goa. Obviously.
IPN: What’s the best thing about being a poker player?
RK: You know, in school or early college days, I never expected that you could actually sustain your life by playing poker. You can make a living out of this. Not everyone can and not everyone is but I hope that I can continue doing what I love.
IPN: What’s the best thing about being a Youtube Streamer?
RK: First and foremost, the ability to be able to influence people and educate them about the game, being able to help the industry grow. I would also like to add something here. The thing about streaming poker online is that your game is out there for everyone to see and this might put you at a disadvantage when you’re playing with the same player where the stakes are high and everyone knows what you’re doing because they’ve seen you so many times.
I try to mix up my strategies and might’ve also contradicted myself or my actions in order to protect my game. Even off-stream, I keep trying to shift my strategies and do unexpected things so that I do not become an easy target for other good players.
It was a pleasure speaking with Ritwik about his journey and his answers were a delight to listen to. We’re definitely going to be seeing a lot more of him on the online felts and hopefully soon at the live tables in Goa as well!
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