Aditya Agarwal, the professional poker star and this year’s record-breaking winner of the biggest online poker tournament, Turbo Championship of Online Poker (TCOOP), shares his secrets. Pay attention, everyone. 

Poker can be really simple or really complex, depending on what you make of it. You can play the game by the book and you will do just fine, but the problem and greatness of us humans is that we tend to ask why, question rules and somehow end up in spots that either end in great benefit or regret. I would suggest to anyone to keep it simple, don’t try to bluff too much, don’t make too many hero moves and stay disciplined.

I wouldn’t say I have a set style. I like to adjust and change my play according to my opponents on the table. How I play with a certain type of opponent generally doesn’t change, so I think it’s most critical to ensure I have figured out my opponent first. But the game is constantly changing, players are also getting better and wiser. So it is key to stay sharp, observe and make sure you are well aware of which opponent falls into what category.

There are loads of players that I respect and get inspiration from. Each one of them has some distinct characteristic about them that bring out the greatness in them, but one thing is common in all of them is their sense of awareness. Phil Ivey, Sorrel Mizzrachi (my good friend and mentor), Daniel Negraneau, the list can go on.

It’s definitely the competitiveness and mind over matter that makes poker so special. The game is constantly evolving which makes the competition tougher, but at the same time more exciting and challenging. Being able to prove yourself in this tough environment is an exciting and satisfying feeling.

Most new players will try to bluff too much, play out of their means and eventually give up on the game. I would suggest if you have a serious liking or passion for the game and want to build it as a long term hobby or profession, discipline yourself by following the few basic rules of Poker.  One of the key things to remember is Bankroll management – If you are playing a game with Rs. X as buy-in, have at least 25-30x saved at all times for future games. Do not over expose yourself ever. Some of the biggest players in the world have gone broke 2-3 times in life before learning this lesson, but the smart ones learn from their mistakes.

Find out who the “fish”(weak player) on the table is in the first 30 min, if you don’t, then it’s you. Stick to the basics and play in position. Position play is strategically very important in poker. If you are in position (you are last to act and other players need to play before you), you will receive the most information in any hand and hence can make better moves. Be creative only against strong players, weaker players are generally non-believers and will call with even a small pair sometimes.

Discipline is key. There will be many tempting situations that will give you the opportunity to fall out of line, but it’s the disciplined players that always know just what to do. Its actually common sense, which we lose sight of at times.

Don’t make too many naked bluffs and try to have a semi-bluff. A Semi bluff is a situation where your hand is essentially losing on the flop or turn, but has chances to get better on the river.

Size up your opponent well before you go in for a bluff. You should know what your chances of getting away with the bluff are before you make the bluff. Some opponents fold more than others.

Poker is a great game full of skill, competition, excitement and challenges. If you decide to join the ride, be patient, be disciplined and be eager to learn from everyone, every hand is an opportunity to observe and learn. Once you are confident and have found your mojo, you will start to bear the fruits of being a successful poker player and all the perks that come with it.