The biggest adversary you often need to overcome is your own self doubt. And it’s even harder to do when you have a table full of people ridiculing your every move. But then again, what’s victory without hardship? This is the story of Puneet Dua who overcame some seemingly impossible odds to win the Main Event of the Baazi Poker Tour and have his name firmly etched in the story of Indian Poker.
Having had a very bad beat on the first day in the 10k FreezeOut and missing out on the satellite for the High Roller, Puneet came into the Main Event with not the best experience as of then in the BPT. The first day was all about endurance as the other players made a mockery of him for making notes of every hand on the table. Every time he lost a hand, they said “Write this down”, and some other things like “Do this” or “Don’t do that”. But not one to dwell on these trivial downers, Puneet made meticulous stats about his game play including, how many hands he played pre-flop, post flop and how many of those he won and how many he lost.
But, like all good poker stories, he needed one good hand to propel him on his way; and that duly came when he was left with 12k chips on Day 1. He was on the BB with A 2 off-suit. The UTG limped and small blind matched to which Puneet checked. The flop came K 8 8, to which all 3 players checked. The turn came a 2 and the UTG made it 12k, incidentally the exact size of our future champion’s stack. After the small blind folded, Puneet thought for a while and decided to commit here. The UTG had A 7 and Puneet’s deuce pair held. This proved to be a turning point and he managed to build onto a sizeable stack from here.
The first day, which had started at 7:00 pm, ended at close to 6:00 am and was one of high variance for our man from Delhi. Puneet got a couple of double ups to reach 1L chips but just before the end of play, lost a flip with a pair of 2s to AK to end Day 1 with a stack of 86k.
Day 2 began with 40 players and the table Puneet started on was one of the hardest he’d faced. He’d been on a monster table on Day 1 with DK, Abhishek Panda and Kanishk among other pros and the one he got on Day 2 was almost as difficult. Nikita Luther was dominating on the table in the beginning. Puneet lost the first hand he played on Day 2 and went down to 40k before getting a couple of favourable flips which went his way.
Once the play was down to about 15 players, Puneet started playing in a lot more controlled fashion, folding most hands, many of them premium. The target was to somehow make it to the Final Table and it paid off. The FT was, in comparison to those before, much easier to crack for Puneet. The crowd consisted mostly of players who’d never won a major event before and Puneet felt confident of going deep. As the players started eliminating each other, Puneet persevered until it was just him and Sameer Tavanandi remaining.
While playing heads-up, there was even a point when Puneet was down to 800k chips and his opponent had close to 3.8 million. Just moments earlier Puneet had played a very aggressive hand by betting 100k, 200k and 400k on the flop, turn and river respectively. Sameer had finally folded on the river, only to be shown a stone cold bluff with 7 2 off. Confident he had his adversary steaming, Puneet then proceeded to call him on just about any pair until his stack size slightly outmatched Sameer’s.
Then came the final hand. Throughout the first 3 days of the BPT, at the tournaments as well at the cash table, never once did he get them; but finally, after an enormously long session with the final heads-up itself going over an hour and forty minutes, Puneet finally looked at his hole cards to see a pair of Aces beaming back at him. Being on the SB, Puneet slyly limped to get a raise, to which he re-raised. To his luck Sameer had AK and he went all-in giving Puneet a simple call. The Aces held and we had our BPT Main Event Champion!
Thoroughly deserved, Puneet Dua also took home 10 LAC in winnings from the event in addition to those at the cash tables. When asked how he planned to spend his winnings, Puneet was clear that he wanted invest his money in playing higher stakes and building a bankroll. The target for him is to make it to the WSOP in 2 years’ time to play with, and become the very best. Well, we hope so too and wish him the best in his endeavours.