Categories: Poker Interviews
June 15, 2018
| On 3 years ago

‘Seeing the world through Poker is an experience on its own,’ says poker pro Dhaval Mugal

By Shalini Singh @Shalini_Singh15

In a one on one conversation with Gambling India Info, poker player Dhaval Mugdal shares his passion for the game and other helpful insights. Here’s the conversation.


While the world has started to accept Poker as the mind sport, Indian state governments are still clueless on either to drop Poker in the list of game of skills or game of chance? And, amidst all this Dhaval Mudgal, who is a professional poker player and also a vocalist at Half Step Down, sees Poker as an experience of its own. So, let’s start from the beginning!

Since when have you been playing poker and how it all started?

Dhaval started playing Poker around 10 years ago. He recollects, “When a friend came back after studying from the USA, he taught all of us. We slowly learnt the ropes and were hooked albeit after paying him our dues!!”

He has been playing professional poker for 4 years.

Which aspects make online poker different from live poker?

I am primarily a live MTT (Multi Table Tournament) player. Even though it becomes very hard to sustain due to the overheads that come with the travel, I enjoy playing it. Online poker lets you create much higher ROI’s as you can play multiple tables at the same time and also save money on hotels and travel. But it is not even close to half as much fun as playing Live as you meet new people, see new places and understand new cultures.

Future of poker in India after 5 years

We have 1.2 Billion people in our country and I think maybe 200-300 thousand people are active poker players. Just imagine if we could bring poker as a sport to even 10% of the country we would add 12 million new players to the world of poker. India is definitely the next big thing in Poker despite the perception and the challenges poker faces here.

How do you perceive the poker-related laws of the Indian government?

The only true threat to the growth of this game is the Draconian Laws in place. Worldwide, poker players are allowed to offset their losses against their wins. In India, If I play 3 tournaments worth 10 K each and only cash in the 3rd for 30k I still pay a whopping 30% TDS on my winnings which is effectively taxing my investments as well as my winnings.

The world is beginning to accept this game as a mind sport but state governments in our country are calling for bans. Ironically, horse racing, on the other hand, seems to be absolutely acceptable to our various state governments.

International giants like PokerStars have entered the Indian market, will it affect local Indian operators?

I will reserve my judgment on the entry of PokerStars. While there is no doubt we will get a fantastic product and paramount security through PS, till they make a large investment they will not be able to match some of the offers that our Indian sites are giving us at the moment. Moreover, the tax issues will create big problems for them as well.

How do you balance your professional and personal life?

It’s quite tough to balance your personal life while playing poker. The hours we play are usually diametrically opposite to other professions.

For a long time, I have ignored my health as well but now I have made it a point to eat better and work out 5 times a week. The difference this makes to my game is amazing!

The support system that keeps you going even after a terrible day of poker?

My family has pretty much always backed me in anything I wanted to do. They never once questioned my decision to play poker as long as they felt this is what I wanted to do. My friends who did not play Poker came around after some convincing.

It’s important to surround yourself with people who love you and can increase your productivity!

Poker is still mired in myths. Do you think India can see more poker professionals like you?

The Indian Poker Community is a close-knit one and is growing quite steadily. A large part of my friend circle is now Professional Poker Players. I welcome the day when the perception of poker changes to one of a sport and we can see many more people playing it!

Where do you feel new Indian poker players go wrong in poker? And any tricks for our readers?

As glamorous as it looks on TV, there is a lot of hard work and discipline that goes into making a successful poker player. I would suggest good Bankroll Management, a good mix of playing and studying and getting you a coach before you decide to take the plunge as a professional in this industry!

Who do you think is currently the best poker player in the industry?

It will be close between Raghav Bansal, Sushi and Sriharsha.

What’s your take regarding scams in the poker industry? And what is the best way to prevent them?

Unfortunately, this industry comes with its fair share of scams. Be vigilant, work with trusted people and don’t do transactions with random people without finding out history.

People often talk about glories but we learn the best from our mistakes, so was there any moment when you had it totally wrong but you learned from it?

Many such moments in poker, we sit back and review how we played post session. This is when you spot mistakes and correct them for the future.

How was your experience with the Poker Sports League winning?

It was amazing. Poker is played as an individual sport so to win it in a team dynamic is amazing. We worked hard as a team and I couldn’t be happier.

How did you prepare the team for the tournament?

We worked on Skype through the help of instructional videos, hand history reviews and range charts Post that we worked closely at our boot camp.

Is there any motto or particular strategy you had to guide your team for Poker Sports League?

Well, no particular motto as such. But we had asked everyone to regularly question plays, use logic to make decisions and remember to have fun.

Any, message you would like to give out to budding poker players?

The game looks glamorous but as in anything to be successful, you need to work hard. In this age of information, you are armed with a wealth of knowledge. Use it!

Shalini Singh @Shalini_Singh15

A Writer | A Reader | Above all- A Human Being constantly looking forward to pushing the envelopes!

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