Aditya Agarwal is back in Las Vegas this summer, fulfilling what has become pretty much the focus of his poker-playing year. This is the 14th occasion he’s been to the World Series and the 14th Main Event. Having cashed seven of them, he’s hoping to keep up a fine record.
“I plan my year around this tournament,” Agarwal said. “I try to be well rested, well prepared. Get everything aligned so I can just focus. You can only prepare yourself to do the best and then whatever happens, happens. You can’t really predict how things will go, but you can prepare yourself, you can be well rested, you can make sure that you have studied enough.”
By his standards, he didn’t play too many other World Series events in the run-up to the Main Event, expressing slight disappointment that the 2019 schedule had fewer medium buy-in events (the $2,000-$5,000 range) and more of less than $1,000. But he still played about 11 tournaments after arriving towards the beginning of the series.
He came to Vegas in good form too, having won a 200,000 rupee buy-in tournament in a Goa casino at the beginning of May, picking up a $45,000 prize. “I have not won too many live tournaments, so honestly that did field pretty good, even though it was a smaller field,” he said. He also managed to late reg at the start of Day 2, so increased his hourly rate considerably by skipping a full day. “As a prep to the world series I thought I’d go and play that. It was fun.”
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Goa is now Agarwal’s home, having moved there in the past year with his wife. They’ve adopted two puppies, requiring a slight lifestyle adjustment, but it’s closer to most of the poker rooms in India allowing Agarwal to complement his online game with some live poker. PokerStars.in launched in April last year, open only to players based in India, and Agarwal both coaches and plays, putting in the volume on the ever growing site.
“Since .IN launched, the tournaments have been getting bigger,” he said. “Obviously they’re not as big as .com, and the schedule is not that packed, but the market is mostly looking for good stakes, and it’s still a growing market. We just had our first SCOOP, and we had a $150K guaranteed main event, with multiple flights. It’s getting better, it’s getting bigger. We have a $40K guarantee on a Sunday. It’s a smaller field, less variance. I’m still comparing it to .com, but from an Indian perspective it’s really good. It’s definitely the biggest flagship of all the Indian sites.”
Agarwal was the first player from India to sign for Team PokerStars, back in January 2015, but it’s a measure of the increasing popularity of the game that there are now three Indian players under the red spade. Muskan Sethi signed a year ago, and last week Sharad Rao became an official Twitch ambassador.
“I’ve known Sharad for a while,” Agarwal said. “I think it’s great having new young players come, to motivate the new generation. Sharad is going to be taking care of the poker school and Twitching regularly. It’ll be great. A lot of people will be able to follow him every day and learn from it.”
Agarwal himself has occasionally been known to dabble in Twitch, but admits it might not be his scene. “It has a lot to do with personality and I just feel that I’m not the ideal candidate to Twitch long hours. But I do Twitch once in a while.”
The World Series, however, is definitely more to his liking, particularly the Main Event. And, as ever, we’ll check on his progress throughout.
WSOP photography by PokerPhotoArchive