In Conversation with: Nikhil Segel

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Poker is considered by many to be a mind sport that requires exceptional skills to be successful in, while others think of it as a game of chance. There are a select few who play the game recreationally but have still inspired several others to take up the sport. One such highly inspiring personality is Nikhil Segel.  Here are a few excerpts of his poker journeys and future plans.

The Initial Journey

An architect by profession, Nikhil Segel, stepped into the Indian Poker back in 2008-2009 when poker first came to the Casinos in Goa. He says, “I had an office in Goa then and loved the experience of playing live. Then when online gaming came to India I switched to playing online and even if I say it myself, very badly. It was only in 2018 when I won a Platinum Pass to the PSPC that I learned that Poker needs to be studied and learnt and that the more time you put into that part of the game, the more successful you can be on the felts.”

When asked about what sparked this passion, he says, “It was also at that time that I learnt that such a thing as the poker community exists globally and I started to connect with many of the top pros. The fact that we could grow together and learn from each other only spurred the passion in me further and I was hooked to the community side of poker.”

Back in the day, with limited learning materials, Segel says that he learnt from the experience of the game itself, “I was blessed to be given the opportunity to learn from the best in the field. While Jaime Staples got me into Raise Your Edge with BenCB, Another pro got me into the Upswing program and Chris Moneymaker and other big pros were available resources, at that time Jonathan Little took me under his wing and to this day I acknowledge that he is one of the finest coaches in the business, especially since he can easily change from absolute basics to more complex decision chain analysis. I am an ardent fan of his site PokerCoaching as well”

The secret to Poker success is putting in the hours off the felts, reviewing your hands, studying, constantly evolving your game and at the same time being very conscious about Bank Roll Management and Game Selection. The truth is that the first step is BRM and Game Selection and learning the ABC poker. Once you have a strong foundation it is easy to keep improving if you dedicate time off the felts to game growth and mental game growth too.

Nikhil Segel, on the secret to becoming a good poker player.

Digitization & changes in the game of poker

Being a part of the poker industry, Segel has seen the plays of the game change overtime. When asked, he said, “I think there was initially a very different style of play with minimal aggression pre flop. Then there was the GTO revolution and everyone was talking solvers and GTO strategy.”

“I think today’s game requires one to be conscious of the game that one is playing and adapting to that space and being exploitative in it. If you are playing micro-mid stakes you need to focus on the basics and be able to range well and play ABC against most players, exploiting them when you know you have an advantage and pushing forward to ensure they make the mistakes. As you player bigger value games or against much deeper fields on international sites you need to get your game hat on and be quick to analyse your table and modify your strategy to the table, knowing when to use what strategy is the most important aspect of the game.”

The Best Game

When asked about the best tournament played-to-date, Segel reminisces his favorite memories. “Without doubt my favourite memory of poker is playing the PSPC in the Bahamas followed by my own Invitational at the PCA. Both were such wonderful experiences. The former because of the scale and size of it, the $25,000 Buy-in the live experience, the events around the PSPC and then the excitement of making Day 2.”

Nikhil Segel was part of an eight-member team from India that made its way to the Bahamas for the 2019 PokerStars Players NLHE Championship (PSPC) in January. Though he did not make much of an impact on the felts, he did endear himself to the players participating at the event, as well as the online poker giant, PokerStars, so much so that ‘The Nikhil Segel Platinum Pass Winners Invitational’ was held in his honor!

He says, “That was an amazing experience overall and again it reaffirmed to me that Poker is a social sport and there is no experience than playing it for fun with people you like and enjoying the live aspects of a sport that demands you to be conscious about the tells coming off another player.”

The Road Ahead

Taking away the lessons, Segel says, “I have learned that life is poker and poker is life. You need to be the willow you have to bend with the wind and not break. You must learn to have tremendous loss not impact you, and on the other side of the coin is having tremendous wins and not let them get to your head. You have to be smart enough and quick enough to get up and grind on. You must realize like life, you are dealt your cards and you decide how you play them.”

He quotes a few lines by Kenny Rogers:

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done

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