While poker has many parameters to measure success, we at Academy52 decided to do some measuring of our own. While it may be impossible for us or anyone for that matter to clearly define ‘best’, we bring you, 4 top Indian poker players. If you feel any player is missing and should have made the cut, let us know in the comments. Here’s to some of the top poker players in India.
Aditya ‘Intervention’ Agarwal
Aditya ‘Intervention’ Agarwal is considered one of the top poker players by almost all poker rankings, and rightly so. Known for his charismatic plays in both offline and online poker circuit, it is evident why many rankings even give him the tag of the best Indian poker players. 3rd on the all-time money list of the Indian poker scene according to The Hendon Mob poker database, Aditya has over $1 million in live earnings, the biggest of which occurred in 2018, when he pocketed HK$ 1,900,000 (nearly $242,211) at the HK$ 40,000 No-Limit Hold’em – APPT Main Event at the Asia Pacific Poker Tour – APPT Macau, Macau. But his online resume is even better, with over $4 million in online earnings, which is getting bigger with every tournament he plays in.
A graduate in Business Administration, Aditya has been playing poker for over a decade and a half now and has represented the country in major tournaments globally, prominently the World Series Of Poker (WSOP). His first entry in the prestigious event came in 2006 when the then 26-year old Aditya was just another upcoming player. However, he became one of the first Indians to cash at the series and the first Indian to make money at the event, both in 2007.
One of the newer names on the circuit, Gaurav Sood has left an impact that is unrivalled in recent times. The growth of the online poker scene in India has been a catalyst in Gaurav’s career, and he has the numbers to match his skill. The 25-year old Sood based in Gurgaon has amassed over ₹3.9 Crore in online earnings and is going strong as ever. The top 3 online earnings of his career all came this year, where he won ₹18,61,000 at #BPTO Day 2 Main Event 1 CR GTD at Poker Baazi, ₹17,75,000 at GPS #14 – The Millionaire United Day 2 (1 Crore GTD) at Spartan Poker and ₹11,03,760 at IOPC, that too at Spartan Poker.
Sood was introduced to poker in 2013, long before he was in contention to be one of the top Indian poker players. His first break happened in 2017, when Abhishek Goindi, poker pro and mentor, recruited him to play for Punjab Bluffers in the Poker Sports League. And as they say, he hasn’t looked back ever since, as he frequently tops the list of the best online poker players in India.
Nipun ‘Javatinii’ Java
A software engineer turned poker pro, Nipun Java is one of the top professional poker players in India to have made their name in the sport, especially in the live poker circuit. While he has been playing poker for a long time, his performance before 2014 was decent, but not something to remember him for. With a spectacular 2014, Nipun marked himself on the map of Indian poker, as he took home just over $450,000. The majority of these winnings came from the $1,600 side event at the L.A. Poker Classic, where he won $114,955, and the WSOP Circuit Bicycle $1,675 Main Event, where he banked $226,785.
With consistent numbers and poker winnings, it was only time when he took the grandest prize of them all, and in 2017, it was a double-bracelet summer at WSOP, the year he truly became one of the top poker players in India. Since then, Nipun has been consistent in his game, if anything, and has been continuously grinding it out. Sitting on the 2nd position of the India all-time money list, the star has been quiet for some time, but one thing is certain. As things go back to normal, we can surely see him grinding it out on poker tables.
Arsh ‘BigggTymer’ Grover
Arsh ‘BigggTymer’ Grover, a young spectacle of the Indian poker scene has been playing poker since he was 11 and started playing competitively when he was 16. Through the support of understanding parents, the 24-year old Arsh has shown everyone that determination and effort never really go to waste. With a victory at the p 10,000 + 1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event at India Poker Championship (IPC), Panjim 2015, Arsh shot up the fame ladder which would eventually land him on the list of the top poker players of India.
While his live earnings cap at $45,269, Arsh has made over ₹3.4 Crore (~$462,819) in online play. His biggest grab came in Feb 2020, when he took home ₹27,94,822 when he stood 3rd at the IOPC 25,000 + 2,500 Buy-in Event. His other notable wins are The Millionaire – Legends – Day 2 (2 Cr GTD), where he won ₹23,38,971, SSS (25,000 + 2,500) * 2 Buy-in event, where he won ₹14,94,585, and the IOPC – The Millionaire – Day 2 (2 Crore GTD), where he bagged ₹13,25,038. Interestingly, all the events were played on Spartan Poker. He surely has the number for the poker platform!
The game of poker has seen its fair share of ups and downs in India, but since the lockdown emerged, it has only seen ups. Millions of players have joined the numerous poker platforms, the prize pools are off the charts, and new tournaments are joining the fun by the minute. Online poker has taken over, and the casino thrill is long forgotten. Even though the game has the ‘gambling’ tag associated with it, it has broken the shackles and grown tremendously, providing players with a digital escapade in these times.