Neel Joshi was over the moon and couldn’t believe his eyes at his EndBoss runner-up win! Even though the top spot was just a hand away at the final table, Joshi couldn’t be happier about the fact he’d just won about INR 65 lakhs for his 2nd place finish, after going head-to-head with the EndBoss winner Abhishek Maheshwari.
Originally from Pune, Neel ‘worm33’ Joshi is a 23-year-old player presently stunning the poker felts with every game. He graduated from BITS Pilani with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 2019 and has been a consistent player since his university days. But poker wasn’t the only sport he was acing; Joshi was also a Table Tennis enthusiast for almost a decade and has played on a national level for five years. We were amazed to know about his entrepreneurial traits as well as he’d started a business and had been tutoring international students, right before poker became a huge part of his life. All this to fund his avid passion/hobby of traveling.
Not only at the domestic circuit, Joshi has experienced the casino life at the WPT stop in Vietnam and Costa Rica last year and at the WSOP as well. With Vegas being on top of the travel list for every poker player, he’s had quite the taste of the city life with its live poker scenario and the glory that comes with exploring the sin city.
Joshi might be an up and comer in the poker industry, however we felt that there’s a lot we can learn from the millennial when it comes to poker, life and most of all chasing a passion from the very beginning.
Here’s the excerpt in detail-
Ending up as the EndBoss runner-up would have meant a great deal to you! Would you like to take us through this entire experience?
My whole sleep schedule was messed up for nearly 2 days and I couldn’t be happier about this win!
What was it like playing against the EndBoss winner, Abhishek Maheshwari?
I didn’t know who he was at the time, but just from his game I noticed he was playing fearlessly and it sure was a well-deserved victory for him. Because the payout differences were huge, I thought I could put ICM pressure on these guys with the way I played, but I had to adjust my strategies accordingly with how things were unravelling at the final table. But I’m pretty happy with how it turned out for me!
How were your early days with poker?
I used to be a recreational player prior to this, but there was a period of 6-8 months when I was managing a bunch of things, be it writing my CAT/GRE, working for a firm or focusing on my studies; I couldn’t manage to put in the volume in poker that I wished to. I still remember when Baazi hosted this tournament called ‘The Freedom’ on 15th August and I won over INR 12+ lakhs! With that very moment in mind, I understood the importance of having poker as a part of my life.
“The more you learn about the complexities of the game, you tend to enjoy the game even more”
Why the username ‘worm33’?
I tried a couple usernames which were all taken, but then I stumbled upon ‘worm33’ which was actually inspired from the age-old classic poker movie – Rounders. In fact, there was a player called ‘Worm’ in that movie and that’s how I tried out ‘worm33’ for PB.
So, would you say Rounders is your favourite poker movie? If not, then which movie has inspired you to become a better player?
I’d say Rounders is one of the most iconic poker movies. Back in my university days, I used to watch WSOP reruns on YouTube and I would just admire those guys playing at what presumed to be the highest level, also playing with real money. I found that to be very inspiring and motivating, it was a Moneymaker effect for me. I could see myself doing what those players were doing and I was committed to becoming that person.
Recent news state WSOP being postponed to a later date? What are your thoughts on this?
I’m slightly inclined more towards live poker since I love the feeling of being in a casino, meeting new people, beautiful destinations to explore and marvel at. But the current situation of online poker booming to such a great extent somehow compensates for the live series being postponed/cancelled, atleast for me. Since there are so many options of playing online, be it in India or Internationally that players can resort to these alternatives if the live scenario comes to a temporary halt.
“Phil Galfond and Jason Koon are my absolute favourite tourney crushers! They’ve motivated me to become a better player and a better person.”
Would you say the online gaming boom has had an impact on how poker is being played today?
A significant contribution to the boom that is happening currently, can be attributed to the pandemic. Since everybody is home, fields are bigger and there’s a lot of series and events happening online.
Has your productivity been affected since the lockdown?
Earlier I used to have a life outside poker too so I played usually 4-5 days in a week but the amount of volume I’m putting in right now is nothing compared to before. I used to work out at the gym regularly but with the lockdown now, its all come to a halt. Poker occupies a huge portion in my routine, its heavily demanding which indeed doesn’t give me the liberty to venture out like before.
Since poker is so demanding of your time and effort, how much do you really invest in the game at a stretch?
I’ve definitely played 16-18 hours at a stretch. I usually play 15-16 hours on most Sundays in fact.
How do you keep your calm during long tourneys?
Coming from a sports background has really helped me into composing myself and has kept me mentally strong when it comes to making any poker decisions. Especially, in a game like Table Tennis most of the decisions are taken at the very last minute or in a short span, and I’ve learned to induce that trait into poker over the years. Often times if I’m really invested in a tournament, I would talk to myself out loud, even give myself a pep talk to keep the encouragement coming in.
Let’s talk about baazi a little…
“The early days of Poker are similar to the initial stages of a start-up, where you’re just grinding and not getting immediate results. You keep showing up every day and putting in the hours. Enjoy the process, and results will come over time.”
What’s the next tourney you’re looking forward to at Baazi?
I’m getting on The Summit right after this phone call!
Will we be seeing you at the next PPL?
Any interests aside Poker?
I love to travel, a big-time movie buff, passionate about sports and working out and listening to music from time to time. I’ve been reading a lot lately, mostly current affairs, financial markets, etc.
Biggest support system in poker?
My parents have been fiercely supportive of my passion for the game. Plus, a couple of my friends have been too. But the one guy that stands out from the crowd for me is Sandeep Verma. He plays on Baazi as well and is another very well-known player in the domestic circuit.
Please inspire our readers with tips and advice to becoming a pro player, given the troubled times and in a competitive industry of today?
What a stupendous feat! Congratulations once again, Neel.