Rishab Jain is not one of the better known faces on the poker circuit. And while that may seem a slightly weird statement to begin with, there is a perfectly plausible reason for doing so. Because here is a player who you will rarely see in the poker rooms in Bangalore, Kolkata or Goa, but one with a very formidable presence online. Playing under the moniker ‘rishab5759’, our Young Shot of the month has been on a winning streak for most of this year and with good reason too. And while he humbly attributes this to his well-wishers, it is a steely determination along with a calculated style of play which makes him stand out.
Another graduate from the Manipal Institute of Poker, Rishab has quickly moved up the stakes in a short span of time. But before exploring his game, there is a part of his story that is rather remarkable and demands prior attention. While most poker players face the hurdle of having to explain to their family why poker is a good career option – and Rishab is no different here – few have a sense of anything beyond gratitude once their wish is granted. It is true that most players are immensely thankful to their families for the support, but only a handful have a sense of ownership to be more than that and they fail to acknowledge just how difficult it is for the previous generation to accept poker as the daily source of bread. “I had to convince to parents about the game. So when I play I feel I have something to prove to them”, Rishab puts it. And even though this may seem trivial when compared to common motivators like money, glory and trophies, it feels like a breath of fresh air to meet a player pursuing a progressive sport as a career with such traditional values.
Afraid to tell his parents about his passion for poker, Rishab had grudgingly taken up a job in Bangalore after completing his engineering in 2015 in Computer Science. As a result, his poker was limited to sporadic appearances in the local clubs and the occasional home game with a few friends. He tried his best to stay connected to poker and took mentorship from a close friend from college days – JD. But that was never going to be enough. And finally, after much anguish, he told his family about his desire to play poker full time when he went back home to Kolkata for his sister’s wedding. Terming their reaction as apprehensive, though, would be a massive understatement. But not one to be fazed easily, Rishab slowly brought them around and got them to see what he saw – that this was a game driven by skill and not luck. Many articles, YouTube videos and discussions later, they relented.
Embroidered in the support that has long evaded him, Rishab is reveling in poker today. His online game has picked up since then and he plays up to 200/400 on various Indian websites like PokerHigh and PokerBaazi. Careful to not carried away with success that has followed, he maintains a tight grip over which games he plays. He completely avoids Omaha and only plays tournaments recreationally with the goal of first improving his Hold’em play. Multi-tabling is an aspect that he’s tried very hard to improve upon and can play up to 6 tables at a time with the hope of comfortably playing 10 by the year end.
While playing poker is an amazingly fun experience, like most pleasures in life, it is not enough. To win you need to do more than just play. In Rishab’s words, “You need to maintain a balance between playing the game and studying the game. Most people play poker all day long, but they are not reviewing hands and making notes.” This is why he spends the first couple of hours reviewing the hands he played the previous day. It is a habit he has meticulously ingrained into his daily routine and something he believes should be a practice done by any upcoming player looking to take up poker full time. This along with his other habits are tuned towards ensuring a singular objective – to reduce the variance in his game.
Surprisingly enough, Rishab is not fussed about winning major tournaments or international events in the future. If they do come along the way, then great. But he finds his goals oriented along the lines of cash games. Not wanting to think about anything other than poker for the next 5-6 years, he wants to be become an extremely proficient high-stakes cash game player in the near future, with all efforts concentrated towards getting there. With current mentors Clawin D’Souza and Rishabh Chawla helping him out, and a good bankroll accumulated over the past year, our Hot Shot of the month is looking confidently to the future. And who can blame him?
Rishab’s message to other young players: “This is a game you will have to improve at everyday and to become the best, you must study the game thoroughly. Try to review as much as possible, both during and after the game.”