• Atul Prasad

Bluff Report

We are living in the times of a lockdown. This is the time that 100% of our lives are indoors with our near and dear ones. At the same time, for the ones who are working from home, this period is indeed a trying one with the office work piling up and the house chores staring at us in the face at all times. However, there hasn’t been a better time than now for us to actually spend some quality time with our loved ones and actually loving it. The world of social media has thrown at us an array of suggestions of activities that we can indulge in with our family and friends while being locked indoors. One such activity is a fun game that quite a few have taken up as a full blown career. As the Joker (no pun intended...or not) always says, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free” . Yes we are talking about Poker. Isn’t it always fun to have a poker night every once in a while? We in the Hobbyist World managed to catch up with India’s first female professional poker player, Muskan Sethi on her journey of breaking stereotypes one bluff at a time. 

How and when did you get started?

Sometimes I think it was destiny and but at times, I doubt that it's in my genes, and this skill could have been passed on from my grandmother to me. We inherit traits and features, and I inherited a strategic insight. My inkling towards cards developed when I was young. My dad had immense respect for the game and watched all the world poker championships; it was he who initially explained to me about the game. I chose to study fashion in college, but life directed me towards poker again. I started out playing poker online on a platform called Zynga Poker, then I met my boyfriend now, my life partner, who encouraged me to take it up professionally.

I played on PokerStars; I competed internationally to be part of a TV show called “Shark cage.” I was the loose cannon amongst other big names playing for 1M dollars, I did not win the show but fell in love with the game. In the poker world, It was a significant achievement for a young woman from India, my home country where poker was looked down upon to have been competing with internationally acclaimed poker players. I did not have a single female professional player within our country to look up to or to guide me, but it was essential to making my mother’s dreams come true, as I had promised her to do great things in this beautiful life that she has gifted me. I was and still passionate about poker as I was when I had started. There was no looking back after that, and I knew that from now on, things would be different, I knew I had to pull up my socks and perform

even better. The show boosted not only my career but made me realize my calling against all the Odds.

What is your favourite thing about playing poker?

My favorite thing about playing poker is that it destroys ego of people who are full of themselves because It doesn't matter who you are on the poker table, we all sit with an almost equal amount of skill sets and are given equal chances to prove our mettle, and hence you come out of the tournament as a winner even if you don’t win.

What has been your favourite tournament that you have been a part of until now?

My favorite tournament has to be the World Series of Poker, which happens in Las Vegas. I think that's the mecca of poker. The tournament provides a chance to poker players from around the world to compete for the ultimate glory and engrave your name as the World Champion of Poker along with a stunning gold bracelet, every year. Winning at the World Series of Poker holds high prestige among the poker community around the world. Coming out as a champion from the main event is like a dream for many aspiring and pro poker players.

Where would your dream tournament be?

My dream tournament is going to be in Monte Carlo and playing a super high roller tournament, James Bond-style! Winning that would be an absolute dream. It is my fantasy!

Can you tell us something that people may not know about poker?

Poker requires a lot of patience, rigorous training, hard work, discipline & motivation to keep going. It requires not only a healthy mindset but also a robust support system. People also need to know that Poker is a mind sport. Our society takes poker in a negative light.  Its time they need to see poker as a lucrative career and a skill-based game rather than gambling. People need to be sensitized about the seriousness and professional aspects of the game, like any other sport. Poker can be pursued as a full-time career rather than playing it just as a hobby or a recreational game.

Studies state that Online gaming in India is on a steady growth, particularly card games. A KPMG report estimates that the Indian online gaming industry is worth Rs 4,380 crore as of FY 2018. And this is projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.1% and reach Rs 11,880 crore by FY 2023. This is a clear indication of a vast professional career opportunity in the game of Poker for the youth in India with professional coaching like any other sport. It would also be interesting for budding poker players in India to know that they can also seek professional help from coaches across the globe, there are also mind and fitness coaches working along the skill development coach to help you progress through the game because online games could go on for more than two days nonstop with negligible resting time. There are other facets to the game still unknown to people and would fascinate their minds when they know that poker is as conventional and as mainstream as a game of chess or any other

mind sport.

Whats one piece of advice you'd give budding poker players?

To spend time on building a strong foundation for the game, it will help them in the long run. Also, not to overrate luck over skill, it is essential to acknowledge your skills, do not underestimate it. Do not ever give up. With professional coaching and training, one can look at the long term goal and excel at this sport. Being India’s first female professional poker player, I would like to urge women who aspire to have an unconventional career to give a shot at poker as a career opportunity. We need more women players in this male-dominated community to break the stereotype. Try it for yourself