Nassau (Bahamas), Jan 8 (IANS) An Indian-origin professional poker player is among the top contenders in the Pokerstars tournament here, even as the top winning price goes up to Rs 36 crore ($5.1 million), helped by new players who joined in till noon on Tuesday -- the cut-off time.
Shyam Srinivasan, a Canadian citizen born in Toronto with parents from Chennai and Bengaluru, is still among the top players, even as 215 players are left in the fray, after being in the top six on Sunday.
His stack, though, had come down, after going up four-fold on the first day against the starting chips of $60,000.
Other Indians or persons of Indian origin are way behind in the tournament which boasts of having one of largest stakes and the highest number of players among such global events.
The tournament is being held here at the Atlantis hotel.
Some of the original entrants were eliminated on day two, but others cannot be written off as it's still early in the game.
A total of 1,039 players entered the $25,000 buy-in level, raising the total pool money to $26.45 million. The winner gets around 15 per cent of this with an extra million thrown in by Pokerstar as incentive.
The rest of the money would be shared by players till number 181 - the last 27 just about getting back the entry money.
There will be six who would become millionaires, apart from the winner.
"I am just aiming for the top. There is no other goal," Srinivasan, who has played in several global poker tournaments, told this IANS correspondent during a break.
He stood 6th in 2014, 10th in 2016 and 25th in a $25,000 buy-in tournament in 2017.
He said that unless you aim for the top you would end up nowhere.
"Even if you fail in achieving that level, you would get some measure of success on the way up", the 37-year-old said, adding that it was important for poker players to look after their physical and mental health because tournaments like the one in the Bahamas, spread over five whole days, can take a toll on the best.
A golf player, Srinivasan started playing cash games about 13 years ago and then moved on to online games, something which most players do in the reverse order. He says he has been one of the most successful online players, having made at least $10 million over the years. Even in sit-down cash games, he has won around $2 million.
He said one needs to adopt several good habits to be a good player -- like self-awareness, shunning ego and arrogance, being humble and checking all the time where one went wrong.
Srinivasan said his game in the last two days have been "quite smooth" with some of his best hands holding till the last and some of his bluffs going through.
"I played a fundamentally sound game," he added.
He said he had done well for himself in poker because several good players had held his hand when he was learning the professional ropes.
In turn now, he's mentoring several youngsters in the game, one of whom had gone on to become famous on the poker circuit. He has not been to India in the last 20 years but would like to visit his home country this year, "since I heard that poker has become very important there".
(Hardev Sanotra is in Bahamas at the invitation of Pokerstars. He can be reached at email@example.com)