‘MOLLY’S GAME’ – Why the entrepreneur in you must read this book .

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I teach Strategic Management ( Competitive Strategy in Poker ) at the Indian Institute of Management- Kozhikode.  I know, really cool. However, with so many grading assignments and other pending tasks, reading a book  has become a luxury.

Recently, I treated myself to a book that i had been wanting to read for quite some time. It is sort of a poker biography of poker entrepreneur and author, Molly Bloom – her introduction to the world of high stakes business folks, running high stakes cash games under the radar, and the inevitable fall from grace.

 Okay, this is not a book where hands would be discussed.

It is more about the business of LIVE poker. Molly’s reference to her talented brothers and how she felt she’d come up short was unexpected and kind of endearing. The folks in Bloom’s life, with the exception of one Hollywood star, are spoken about with fondness. Whether they are aggressive business folks, superstars, law enforcement or game staff, I finished the book coming to like these inhabitants of the poker world.

Bloom’s book gives us a sense of what makes for a high-society poker game – comforts, ease, action, proximity and glamour of every bit of the experience – from playing to collections. Just as she builds a unique poker experience and starts counting out her first big profits, the reader begins to wonder how long the good time would last. Bloom rolls with the punches, taking her game from coast to coast, somehow making an equally good show of it irrespective of the location. Be they Hollywood celebrities or Wall Street biggies, they co-occupy rarefied felts with the other rich and wealthy.

The business and competitive (not in poker, but the business of running a poker game) aspects that struck me are: first, how a rank outsider – Bloom – finds a niche for herself; second, how she goes about making this niche profitable; third, how or what defends this profitable spot; and finally, what might drive the heavy handedness of law enforcement. Let me elaborate.

How the astute business woman navigates the high testosterone world of the poker business is fascinating in itself. While men dominate this world, their alpha-male territory defense instincts and how all that testosterone overdose may be an entrepreneurial opportunity is fascinating to read. A powerful man bossing the game is nothing to be fearful of, just as far as you can find at least other power thirsty man – seems to be Bloom’s mantra. It made me wonder if I could use sections of the book as reading material for an entrepreneurship class.

Bloom’s CRM (customer relationship management) is fascinating. Fulfilling the silliest of customer desires goes a long way in the poker business, it appears. She recollects fascinating experiences that had her scurrying around so that the boss wouldn’t throw a fit. While painful in itself, in this helter-skelter she makes friends and gets a shot at love. Like a professional wrestler, she turns and throws the collections problem with the promise of the next, even better, even sexier, game.

Bloom’s careful documentation of her players and their needs creates a database which would take a potential rival many years to emulate. This gives her a shot at running this profitable business for a longer time. In her book lie fascinating secrets of how a poker business ticks. It takes 9 to have a game, but for Bloom any 9 wouldn’t just do. A careful selection of the 9 players is important for the experience to be fun, profitable, less of a collections headache, and a source of repeat business. Again, as you read the book, these poker business insights jump at you.

Notwithstanding the plethora of evidence of poker being a skill game, poker in general and live poker in particular, is exposed to the vicissitudes of the legal system and its enforcement. In the US, those like Bloom who run the game may sometimes find themselves in prison, a choice of cooperating or long prison sentences ahead of them.

Having taken the former way out, Bloom has had the opportunity to tell her story. It is a fascinating one. Not only poker lovers – anybody with interest in service businesses, entrepreneurship, or a woman navigating ‘a man’s world’ of poker would find this book good to read. 

Write to me in the comments below and we can discuss the book at length using the business management lens further.

-Deepak Dhayanithy, Assistant Professor, Straegic Management, Indian Institute of Management- Kozhikode

Maidumji's Poker Chronicles- Part 6

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Poker is increasingly becoming the activity I spend most of my waking hours learning. It is not only a lot of fun, but also a great sport to engage in for it teaches you so much about life! While I mused earlier about how poker is similar to life, here are a few life lessons to be learnt from this fascinating sport!
 
-       One’s true character is visible only when one loses. The art of losing gracefully is not easy, and yet it is something one should strive to learn everyday.
-       Decisions based on emotions can cost you. So someone gets under your skin, either by speech play or by their way of playing, if you let that cloud your judgment, you are losing already!
-       The key to success is seeing the world from another’s point of view. For years I played poker just on my cards, and it is only now when I am trying to get better at the game that I have started to see things from the opponent’s perspective. What bigger life learning could be there?
-       Money should never the end goal but rather the result of doing your job well. It has taken me years to realize this but I am glad this lesson came my way playing poker. Sure, the thrill of making money is also a motivation, but the satisfaction of having played well is the real deal. And in life too, it is better to look at money in a similar way. Focus on doing your job well, the money will follow.
-       Everyone thinks they know what they are doing but few actually do! And once you realize this fact, life sure becomes a lot sweeter to deal with!
-       Knowing the right decision and making it (particularly under pressure) are two very different things. And this is what life is all about I think.
-       The best players don’t always win. And that is just how it is.
-       The weak blame luck, the strong make their own!
-       In the short run, luck can help, but in the long term, mastering the skill is imperative to success. Sure we are all winging it from time to time, but if you want to go the distance, you have to strive to constantly get better at your game. The only competition should be with oneself.
-       It is wise to learn from your mistakes but there is no point dwelling in the past. The hand gone is truly gone and over, the sooner you move on, the better it is. Let’s focus on the one coming up, shall we?
-       And last but not the least, sometimes the most is won in unexpected places. So make your bets and take your chances, you never know what happens next! And whatever happens, don’t stop having fun.
See you at the tables!
Love,
-maidumji


 

Channeling my inner poker diva at the Deltin Poker Tournament

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The only time I felt remotely like Miss Hawa Hawai,  a role the recently departed Goddess of Indian Cinema played in Mr India, was at the Deltin Poker Tournament a couple of  weeks back. Like an imposter but so totally right for the part!

9stacks was promoting women poker players.  9 of us were invited to be the 9 Missketeers to represent them at event in Goa. I was suddenly ticking off a thing on my bucket list except it had never featured there. My love affair with poker was new and passionate. From online poker to a live poker tournament, was too much to imagine. Did I deserve it? I just let all the doubts go and let the good times roll!

It was to be an all expense paid trip to play at the main event of the DPT. The ticket cost to the event was 35k. The last gift I got for that amount was my wedding set from my mother in law which wasn't even pretty.

Soon after landing in Goa, I met the team and we headed for the DPT. I was on my table by 7pm. It was my first trip to an Indian casino. The place was impressive. The tournament room itself had around 35 to 40 tables poker tables set up. The chandeliers shone bright.  About 50% of the players on those tables were wearing dark glasses. (literally guarding their expressions) I could hear the sound of the poker chips. It was music to the ears.

After signing up, I was assigned table 16 seat 5. As luck would have It, I was seated on a table of 4 sharks, 3 of whom were legendary. (names withheld to protect their ego.) It took a few hands to get comfortable. There was a newfound respect for the gaming software. It did so many things automatically- it put the small blind, big blind, put in the ante, calculated a minimum raise, warned me if I am folding when I can check -basically prevented me from looking stupid. And I did look pretty stupid that night. I made silly mistakes and that testosterone filled table was most likely thinking- what the hell is SHE doing here? She should be making bhindi at home.

Soon enough, all the poker training of so many 9stacks tourneys came marching out.

Won many hands, folded many more, piled up a nice stack, had the immense pleasure of watching 3 of those sharks busted out before me.

There were times when one of these sharks would take as much time to play his move as Erin Brockovich took to win her class action suit, but apparently that was allowed. It was unnerving the way these men studied your expression all the time.

I think women here have a distinct advantage especially the ones who have spent time in a joint family. We have mastered the art of schooling our expressions. The mother in law ranting about the burnt dal, the father in law screaming about his missing underwear, the brother in law going crazy looking for the gift from his girlfriend - and we learn to look concerned. We learn to look shattered. We learn to treat it like a global crisis. We learn to have an impassive face. Infact, a shark even complimented me with great annoyance “I can’t make out anything from your expression”.

And at that I finally gave my most expressive smile. Yeah boy! I have THE poker face. 

Players are shoved from one table to another, as players get busted out, and with the view of keeping the quorum of a table between 7 to 9 players. I was shuffled thrice that night.

I lasted till 2am.

7 hours amidst poker's best.

I was finally busted out when I went all in post flop on a hand of pocket 3’s. The flop was 663. Full House. I almost smiled there. A wee curve at the corner of my mouth. The sharks at Table 7 went all in too. Both had trips with 6K and 6A. Heavy hand All our hands were on the table. The turn is a 7. They both are already mourning the death of their hand. And the river is a 7.

The other two now have it better and I have a bad beat.

I go bust.

And I wince.

But then one thing poker has taught me, is to be present. To not let this affect my game later. Bad beats are a part of the game and there's no point rueing the loss when i can cherish the experience and the feat that i lasted 7 hours in the tournament among poker's top rung! (I cannot reiterate that fact enough)

I have had the time of my life. Every minute of the grind was sheer joy. Im back to the online game on 9stacks with a vengeance, hungry to play more and learn more.

A big thank you to 9stacks for the diva like experience. The thought of that night still thrills the cockles of my heart.

Rittweiler signs off.

Maidumji's Poker Chronicles Part 4- Maidumji debuts at the Deltin Poker Tournament 2018

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Hello!
 
This blog is going to be all about my first experience as a LIVE tournament player at  the Deltin Poker Tournament at Goa that happened between 15th and 19th February 2018.
 
Thanks to 9stacks, I got an opportunity to go to Goa along with 8 other amazing women, for 6 days and participate in various events at the DPT , sponsored completely by 9stacks. Initially I hesitated when told about the opportunity, wondering whether I was ready, or even a good enough player yet considering my very limited experience with live tournaments amongst strangers. The team encouraged me to participate, and told me that the idea was to engage more, encourage more women to try their hand at the sport, and with no pressure to win, just to have fun!
 
And so I found myself on a flight out from Delhi, with mixed feelings, some part excitement and a whole lot of nervousness. The team took good care of us, from travel arrangements to hotel reservations, and even registering us for all relevant events. The night we arrived, we played poker at the hotel, quickly trying to learn table etiquette from the old hands, all the words that are thrown around in a live tournament, and also advice on how to play better and with confidence.
 
On the day of the first event, I found myself at the casino with feelings best described, as close to being Alice in wonderland. The atmosphere at the casino is alive (for lack of a better word), with bright lights, lots of people and a hall full of poker tables, and the sharp sound of poker chips! If I was nervous before, I found myself suddenly extremely excited to be present there and just took in the atmosphere.
 
As the time for the tournament came nearer, I again found myself feeling nervous and yet, with a whole team of fellow women along with 9stacks team cheering each other on, found myself a seat at the tournament table.  The game was long and tiring, and while I came nowhere near the finishing line, I loved the grind and those few hours at the table! After sitting for hours on end patiently waiting for good cards,  I could only admire and be in awe  of players who invest so much time and energy in to the sport! It really is a lot of hard work, practice and skill that makes one a good player and discussing hands in breaks made me surer of what I have come to believe – It isn’t so much the cards you get but how you play them, and poker really is a mind game more than a card game!
 
By the second day that was the main event, I found myself less nervous, having spent the night before at the table and was more relaxed and had a lot more fun. I tried my hand at bluffing as well, and to my surprise, actually won a couple of hands! Tee hee, if that doesn’t thrill me, I don’t know what will!
 
Lots of people from our team did well, finishing in the money and some making it to the final table as well!
 
The best part of the trip for me was meeting all sorts of people in those few days, a full spectrum ranging from students to consultants to fashion designers to businessmen, not to mention the pros who have chosen to devote all their time to this sport and make a living out of it. As I interacted with people from all over the country and outside, it really hit home the point that poker really is for everyone!
 
After we got back, I got to know that Goa was abuzz with news of an all girls poker  team backed by 9stacks at the Deltin Poker Tournament. It was quite exciting and we have all been fielding queries from journalists across the country about the poker scene in India and a lot of my women friends have been thinking about trying their hand at playing online too.

In Goa, we had all been lamenting about how in India, we don’t see any women’s only tournaments and the ones that are held are usually one off affairs, done for charity. Where’s the fun?  I definitely  want to see more women enter the field and do really well. 
It is heartening to see that 9stacks has taken our suggestion to heart , and are introducing  a weekly tournament exclusively for women players.  Ladies Night will be an amazing platform for all women who are interested in exploring the game and practise in a safe and encouraging environment. 

So, why not spread the word? It is after all, India’s first weekly poker tournament exclusively for women. Ladies Night happens every Wednesday at 9:30 PM. It has a guaranteed prize pool of Rs 50,000 and a buy in of only Rs 1650! 
The first tournament will take place on 7th March, 2018, just in time for International Women’s Day!

See you!

Maidumji

SHETHEPEOPLETV : Indian Poker Company Sponsors Women Players

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In a bid to challenge gender stereotypes, Indian poker company, 9stacks, has signed a sponsorship deal with nine women players from across the country. The upcoming website wants to reach out to a larger and gender neutral customer base. These nine women represented the brand in the recently concluded Deltin Poker Tournament.

“Poker is a mind sport that requires strategic acumen regardless of their gender. We think there’s a huge market to tap, and we just need a small push to encourage more women to take up poker either professionally or just for fun,” 9stacks founder Sudhir Kamat said.
The company has named the team - The Nine Missketeers owing to their number.

Pro Muskan Sethi is going to lead the team at the tournament. The women come from diverse backgrounds. One is the founder of a news website about poker, Rupal Bansal, the other is a journalist, Radhika Mahalingaiah. There is also an IIM Kozhikode graduate, Lavanya Thota, and CA Ritu Chadha, communications professional, Sakshi Misra, advocacy professional, Chandni Malik, fashion designer Simrit Tiwana and online player, Prashaste Sinha.

For Sethi, this is the second major poker event that she took part in after she won PokerStars SharkCage qualifier three years ago through a free ticket
Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) is India’s largest poker tournament that ran from February 15 to 19 in Goa.

For Sethi, this is the second major poker event that she took part in after she won PokerStars SharkCage qualifier three years ago through a free ticket. In November, 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind also awarded her as she is the first woman in the country making a name in a man’s game.

Sethi stepped into poker in 2010 after watching WPT tournaments and watching Poker After Dark on YouTube consistently. She has raised $150,000 playing online and in live tournaments.

Sports and gaming in general have few women as professionals. While cultural stereotyping plays a big role, it also discourages women from trying out new things in life. Poker is one such game where we seldom hear about women. This initiative will hopefully spread awareness about the women’s game in the poker circuit and beyond.

This extract has been taken from the original article published on www.SheThePeople.com. To read the original article, click here.

Missketeer Muskan Sethi finishes 5th in the High Roller tournament during the Deltin Poker Tournament in Goa

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Leader of the Nine Missketeers, Muskan Sethi finished 5th in the High Roller Final Table during the Deltin Poker Tournament in Goa between 15th -19th February, 2018.

Muskan, who is the first Indian woman professional poker player to be awarded the President’s award for successfully carving her niche in the male dominated sport of Poker, recently, was one of the two women players who made it to the Final Table.

Muskan was short stacked on day 2 of the Highroller, with only 12 BB in hand. However, she neither lost hope, nor confidence, nor sight of her goals and survived till the Final Table with 10 BB  in hand! She finished 5th at the Final Table with 148000 chips and won Rs 4,27,600.

Muskan is one of the finest poker players in the country today  and has been continouslly shattering the glass ceiling in poker , and revamping notions about women who play poker. Muskan's stupendous grit and performance in the Highroller is testament that patience, strategy, hard work and sheer grit to never lose sight of the winning goal is what makes poker such a fascinating mind sport.

We wish her all the best for her endeavours in the future.

To get to know more about her poker journey, click here

Team 9stacks

Poker Tube : The Nine Missketeers Ready to Cross Poker Swords in India

By- 

Andrew Burnett,17 hours ago

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They are being billed as the Missketeers, but as opposed to the three (or sometimes four) Frenchmen, this bunch of fighters consists of nine poker-playing Indian women – an all-female team ready to hit the tournament circuit for their sponsors 9stacksgaming.

As well as the already widely-known Muskan Sethi pictured above – recently honoured for her poker contribution as one of 100 outstanding women achievers who have excelled in professions typically dominated by males – the Nine Missketeers cover a variety of backgrounds.

Journalist and scrabble fan Radhika Mahalingaiah is in the team, as is chartered accountant Ritu Chadha and fashion designer Simrit Tiwana makes the grade too, as does youngest member of the new crew, Lavanya Thota.

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The full roster of poker-loving women getting set to dive into action later this month at the Deltin Poker Tournament, played aboard the biggest floating casino in Goa, the Deltin Royale.

This excerpt has been taken from the article published on PokerTube by Andrew Burnett, on the 19th of February 2018. To read the original article, click here.

Calvinayre.com : India’s Deltin Poker tournament sees strong female participation

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By :  Erik Gibbs ON February 19, 2018 for www.calvinayre.com

Last year, India saw a marked increase in amateur poker enthusiasm in the country. The game has become particularly popular among women and has even commanded support by President Ram Nath Kovind, who honored 100 female players at a ceremony in November.  One of the newest online poker sites, 9stacks, is latching on to the fervor and is sponsoring nine females at the Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT), India’s largest poker tournament, running February 15 to 19.

9stacks’ founder Sudhir Kamath hopes to increase gender diversity in the country, and to inspire women to take up poker. The group, who has received the nickname “the Nine Missketeers,” is being led by Muskan Sethi, one of the women honored by Kovind last year. The group also includes journalist Radhika Mahalingaiah, writers Chandni Malik and Simrit Tiwana, social media experts Sakshi Misra and Prashaste Sinha, entrepreneur Ritu Chadha, India Institute of Management graduate Lavanya Thota and former Online Poker News founder Rupal Bansal.

Sethi is a professional poker player originally from New Delhi. Besides dedicating a great deal of time to the game, the 28-year-old is also employed as a social worker. Since picking up poker in 2010, she has racked up $150,000 playing online and in live tournaments. Her inspiration to get involved came from watching reruns of WPT tournaments and watching Poker After Dark on YouTube. She won a PokerStars SharkCage qualifier three years ago through a free ticket and took a seat at the $1 million event against some of the biggest names in poker.

Poker in India, as it has been in many parts of the world, has been dominated by male players. This has changed recently, as more women have been joining online poker sites in the country. 9Stacks decided to encourage more women to play, with Kamat stating, “Given that poker is a mind sport that requires strategic acumen regardless of [the] gender we think there’s a huge market waiting to be tapped here.”

The DPT has around $400,000 up for grabs, with the NLHE Main Event offering a prize pool of $180,000. There are also Pot-Limit Omaha, Bounty and High Roller tournaments available. The results of the final table action, including whether or not any of the Missketeers made it all the way through, have not been released at the time of publishing.

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This extract has been taken from the original article published on https://calvinayre.com by Erik Gibbs on the 19th of February, 2018.

To read the original article, click here

Cards Chat News : Indian Poker Site Challenges Gender Stereotypes by Sponsoring Female Players

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February 18th, 2018 by Daniel Smyth

The Indian poker industry is leading the way in breaking down gender boundaries thanks to a sponsorship deal involving an all-female cast.

Part of the industry’s ongoing efforts to paint a positive public image and reach as many consumers as possible, online upstart 9stacks announced a new partnership with nine players.

Under the terms of the deal, India’s newest online site has recruited women from across the country to represent its brand at the Deltin Poker Tournament this February and beyond.

As well as representing the brand, the women will be aiming to show casual observers that poker isn’t just a man’s game.

Ambassadors Represent Women and Poker

Dubbed the Nine Missketeers and led by established pro Muskan Sethi, the team hail from a variety of backgrounds. As well as Rupal Bansal, the founder of an online poker news site, the ambassadors include a journalist (Radhika Mahalingaiah), an IIM Kozhikode graduate (Lavanya Thota) and chartered accountant Ritu Chadha.

Although poker around the world has gradually diversified in recent years thanks to high profile wins by the likes of Vanessa Selbst and Liv Boeree, a deal of this magnitude is rare.

What’s more, with attitudes to women in sport not being as liberal in India as they are in other parts of the world, 9stacks’ announcement is even more significant.

“Given that poker is a mind sport that requires strategic acumen regardless of their gender we think there’s a huge market waiting to be tapped here, and we just need a small push to encourage more women to take up poker either professionally or just for fun,” 9stacks founder Sudhir Kamat said.

Another Honor for Sethi

For team leader Sethi, this is the second major honor earned from her time in poker. Back in November 2017, the poker pro and animal rights activist was honored with a Women’s Achievers Award for making a name for herself in a “male-dominated” profession.

“This time, we thought it fitting to bring together women who have been the first to make a career in male-dominated professions on a common platform and laud their achievement,” Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi told the Hindustan Times in October.

Named alongside 99 influential women in India, Sethi was recognized by President Ram Nath Kovind.

That award was not only a personal achievement for Sethi, but another example of how women and poker are starting to earn more respect among those in power as well as the general public in India.

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This extract has been taken from the original article by Daniel Smyth for CardsChat.com.

Read the original article by www.cardschat.com here : https://www.cardschat.com/news/indian-poker-site-challenges-gender-stereotypes-sponsorship-deal-58587

Meet The Missketeers : Prashaste Sinha (@ChupaRustam)

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28 years old Prashaste Sinha never thought she’d ever play poker, or any other card game for that matter. 
She comes from a typical kayasth family that loves playing cards. Prashaste is the black sheep. She admits she’s been terrified of playing cards all her life. It is ofcourse, an irrational fear.

She was introduced to the game by very patient friends one evening, when they discovered to their surprise that she had such an irrational fear of poker and other card games. As she started playing the game, she realised that she actually enjoyed the game. Her colleagues and bosses are passionate poker players, so she’s had a lot of support and encouragement from them. 

An English literature student from the University of Delhi, Prashaste has been a rolling stone all her life and only very recently begun to gather moss now that she’s lived in Delhi for a decade. Her banker father’s transfers to different cities took her to different parts of the country and she loves exploring cultures and histories though folklore, recipes and walking around the cities. Her Instagram handles are filled with musings and observations about food, mental health and life. 

Poker has been an immensely positive influence in her life in many ways and she believes she has now begun to understand what discipline and patience truly mean. “I’ve always had a lot of ideas but I would never see them through. I would always be anxious and would just not have the patience to see something to its logical end. I’d kill the idea in my head even before it started. But somehow that changed after I started playing poker. It came as shock to me initially when we had to post bets pre-flop but then I realised that is the beauty of it. You need to take the leap, push yourself and just play the game. Whatever happens later will be handled in the next step or the next round. I just have to take one step at a time and focus on playing the hand I have, instead of worrying about things that will come later. Waiting for the right cards and not giving in to pressure also taught me a lot about discipline.”

Prashaste enjoys playing tournaments and goes by the name @ChupaRustam. She likes to read blogs and poker tutorials to understand the nuances of the game. She believes she learns more when she is amongst better players and likes to observe their game. “I'm brand new to poker, so I look at every poker player with awe. I am constantly gushing about how the sorted the players are. They look at life the same way they look at poker- that the game is supposed to be played and enjoyed. Whether you win or lose, you're always getting better at it as long as you're open to improvement.”
 
One thing she’d love non poker players to know is that poker is not only a very challenging game, it is also very nuanced and layered. Only skill based strategy helps you create and sustain your success.