My First foray into online poker made easy by 9stacks


I am not a poker expert. I am just a guy who stumbled upon the game during my college fests. It was fascinating , the LIVE format and even though i was initially lost a lot of money, I feel it was well spent. I look at that as phase an investment.

With time, I got pretty good at the game, or so I liked to believe. By the third year, college fests became too sporadic to satisfy my growing hunger for poker. I veered toward online poker. It was perfect! I could play all day! But I wasn’t able to play for long on most sites.

That's actually when 9stacks came into my life. I saw a couple of ads and I looked at their site. I couldn’t believe their offers and tournaments were so simple!

The joining process was pretty easy. After some simple verifications I was on a virtual table playing with real stakes.

It was love at first sight -the hands move smoothly, the interface is quite intuitive . The time that you get for each action is sufficient for a thoughtful decision and not too much that it bogs down the table. There are different alerts to grab your attention when it's your turn. And if that's not enough, you can play on multiple tables at the same time!

Ofcourse, this was no simple college fest game between friends , this was hardcore. Everyone was in it to win it and I was no exception.

I was worried people will learn my playing strategy and was afraid they would categorize me  as a frequent bluffer or a slow stacker. But 9stacks  had a solution for that. They have anonymous tables for so that no one else can learn and benefit from your style.

It took me a little time to really get used to playing here. It was tough. There is so much action on the site! Wo kehte h na "Pehla pyar ho ya pehla exam, Kabhi accha nhi jata".

In the first few games, my stacks dwindled pretty fast.I realized that skills required for online poker are pretty different from its offline counterpart. Online or virtual poker is all about reading the bets and creating strategies that work every time . I had to change my tactics.

That’s when I found about the skills dashboard they launched sometime ago.

Let's take a sample situation in a game of Hold'em. You get Queens. The guy before you goes all in preflop. Now in an offline game on poker, You might read it as a bluff by reading the guy and Might be tempted to call. When I started on 9stacks, this was one of the mistakes I made . Looking at my stats on Preflop ALL in calls when I had a pocket, (Yes, you can put that many filters in the skills tab, I checked) my win rate on such calls was an abysmal 32%. What ends up happening is online the experience is a bit different, as the stakes are higher, people's tendencies to bluff preflop are pretty small.

There are a host of such habits that I had carried over from offline tables to online version that I needed to change. The skills tab showed me all the data on my mistakes and strengths. I started to get some of my confidence  back as I started winning.  

As the college fests started approaching, I wanted to see how I compared in a time constrained scenario of tournaments. The hourly free-roll tournaments were a great help here. The more I played, the more I learnt.

This game is insanely fun. It feels so good to win and triple your stacks in one go. I think I am in it for the long haul!

Signing off for now,



Channeling my inner poker diva at the Deltin Poker Tournament


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

Maidumji at DPT.jpg

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!


Meet the Missketeers: Rupal Bansal (theshowflopper)


30 something  Rupal Bansal is a  supermom, an entrepreneur, a writer and a poker player all rolled into one.
Founder of the e-gifting website, IndiaGift, Rupal has been playing poker since 2010 and dove head-on into the online poker scene 5 years ago. She first learned poker at home while playing card games with her cousins. For her, Zynga reinforced the online variant of the game. What excited her the most about poker was that it let her use her skills and not merely gamble away. The learning is ongoing as every poker game she plays teaches her something daily.
Her husband is also a passionate poker player and the couple spends hours discussing hands and helping each other figure out their strengths and the chinks in each other’s armors. For Rupal, the post-game analysis is very important as it helps one understand what he/she did wrong and right. Learning from one's mistakes is the best part of the analysis and reinforcing one's faith in the positive points is a big morale booster.
Playing poker has helped her understand how to deal with the multiple hues of life. “I remember playing a tournament in Pride Poker Room, Goa while my 9-month-old was in the creche at the casino. I took breaks every 20 mins to check on her and never forget the experience. It taught me how to keep my composure despite so many interruptions," says Rupal.
Rupal believes that a woman’s strategy in poker is actually quite aggressive, contrary to popular belief. In fact, she feels some of the biggest moves and toughest calls come from women in tough situations. Men take calculated decisions while women tend to take aggressive ones at times.
If there is one thing that Rupal wants people to know about poker is that the biggest skill in poker is not merely how you play your game but how patient you are. For her, patience is the biggest skill in poker. She also believes that more and more people will take up the game when the industry becomes more professional and ethical.
Before a big game, Rupal loves using a card guard that was gifted to her by a friend when she was playing a game when expecting her child. The card that says ‘Poker Princess’,  and is with her during all tense games.
She wishes that more women-centric tournaments are held to help more women take up the game and discover the game in a safe environment at their own pace.

Poker diaries: The Art of Bluffing- A Noob’s guide to the Poker Land

The Koi is back!

Now that I have learned to compartmentalise poker players, I must say that I am really enjoying myself. No huffs, no whining, no getting irritated.... just play the hands you are dealt! How you call, judge, raise or fold is what makes one a good poker player.
People often crib about cards like 9-2, 8-3, Q-4 in hand. They are vague combinations, to say the least, unless the Flop reveals a double. How to deal with cards like that – just fold them or pray for the River to Turn your luck or simply bluff your way by going all-in? 

Before I begin waxing eloquent on the subtle art of bluffing, a word of caution - bluffers, bullies and agros BEWARE. The Kois (I mean newbies) are fast acquiring skills to penetrate the fine art of deception.

I have often wondered, cribbed, sulked and gotten frustrated with all the posturing, bullying and bluffing that goes on endlessly in poker games. Grrr. Why, oh why all these dramatics? Why can’t people be straight forward and play hands trusting Ms.Luck faithfully?

Wait a minute!

That thought process triggered something so intrinsic and minimalistic that I simply couldn’t believe the answer – it would be boring! How could I even ignore the fact that bluffing, duping, hoodwinking, misleading and whatever else you call the art of deception, is the innate human trait upon which civilisations were built. Stupid me 

Once that piece of jigsaw fit into the larger picture, I began analysing the intriguing art of bluffing and bluffers. Over the past few weeks I set myself out to categorise the different types of bluff. Here is a small list (the search continues)

1.    Royal Bluff: Usually happens when the shark has a Broadway hand (AKQJ). Most sharks go for a handsome pre-flop raise. Now, if the Flop turns up sad cards like say 925 the sharks usually go for bloating the pot.  Whether to call or not rests solely upon your hand.
2.    Straight Bluff: This is a tricky one. No matter what hand they have, some sharks just raise and raise and raise, even if the hand is 72 in different colours. Fold works best possibly, but risk can double or triple your stack! Not recommended for the faint hearted.
3.    Flush bluff: This is a straight forward bluff when there is a flush draw. Unless you have a pair in the draw or a strong flush card, this is dangerous to continue. Learnt this the hard way, having lost to bigger cards. 
4.    Double Whammy Bluff: The most misleading of all the bluffs. The shark has met your call up to the Turn, giving no indication of a winning hand. Suddenly on the River, no matter what card, the shark raises ridiculously. He will be holding a full house or a flush and he has given you no clue. You confidently raise on your two pairs and plop you go.
5.    Lag bluff:  When no one is keen on calling, just checking their way to see the next card, this joker suddenly disgorges a crazy amount or goes allin! 

6.    One-upmanship bluff: This is probably the most common among bluffs. Ahem, the younger lot is prone to this, especially in a short duration tournament. At least, it works for one of the racing lot  
7.    All-in Bluff: This is most common in low buy-in 15 minute tourneys, done either to up the stack or go in for rebuy. Go for it if you are in the ‘take a chance’ mood.
8.    Serial bluff: This is a habitual compulsive disorder. Defies all logic and usually the pretenders are out and someone’s stack gets fattened. They are easy to spot 

The search continues, and all said and done, though I have bluffing jitters, I have come to accept bluffing as a natural part of poker. Whether I have learnt to bluff or not, call and see 

Betazoid signing off...