Posts Tagged ‘Rising’

Poker PROfile Q&A: Rising Live Tournament Star Pratyush Buddiga

In the early 2000’s it seemed that every week there was another “young gun” making a name for himself on the live tournament circuit. In the wake of Black Friday, there have been fewer and fewer players who make their way from online tournament grinder to high-stakes live sensation.

One player who has successfully made that transition in recent years and earned the title of “one to watch” is Pratyush Buddiga. Over the past few years he has put together over $ 1.3 million in live earnings, with a big win at the 2014 Fallsview Poker Classic that put him into contention in this year’s Card Player Player of the Year race.

We caught up with Buddiga at the 2014 Irish Poker Open main event to talk about his background in the game, how WSOP main event champ Pius Heinz and Mike McDonald helped him with his game and more.

Erik Fast: So Pratyush, I’ve been seeing your name in the results for more and more live tournaments in recent years. Can you tell me a little about your background in poker?

Pratyush Buddiga: I started playing poker a little bit in high school, but it was never very serious. By the time I went to University I essentially stopped because I was always busy with school. In 2010, I had this one pretty easy semester so I started playing more and made some friends with some poker pros through AIM (instant messenger). One of the guys who helped me a lot ended up being the 2011 WSOP main event champ, Pius Heinz. He helped me a ton with my game and I went from playing $ 20 tournaments online to the mid-stakes. I graduated from Duke in 2011 and after Black Friday I decided to just see where poker might go.

Pratyush Buddiga at the WSOPEF: What did you study in school?

PB: I studied economics, which isn’t directly applicable to poker necessarily, but it is a decent major and I am glad I got my degree at least.

EF: You say that meeting Pius was very important to improving your game. How did you connect with him?

PB: I met him on a poker forum, where I had hired this guy as a poker coach and he was in the same chat group with us. By the time Pius won the main event he was playing mid to high stakes online, and we became good friends. He is sort of semi-retired now so he doesn’t play as much, but in the beginning he was the biggest influence on my game.

EF: How did you start making the transition to the live game?

PB: I had started to get better online and in the beginning of 2012 I started to get coached by Timex (Mike McDonald) and from there my results started to get better and better. In the spring I had two big results on the European Poker Tour, finishing eighth and 16th in back-to-back main events, and that gave my bankroll a pretty big boost. In the summer of 2012 I moved in with Timex, and since then things have kept improving. Mike’s been an awesome coach for me.

EF: So you reached out to him for coaching?

PB: Yeah, I started playing more high stakes and was getting crushed. Moving up from mid-stakes, where I played pretty ABC and didn’t bluff a lot outside of some occasional three-bets. In the high stakes you can get run over pretty easily playing ABC so I reached out to Mike and his coaching helped me a lot. We became pretty good friends and after a while he told me that he had an extra bedroom up there (in Canada) and I thought, why not?

Buddiga moves all inEF: So in 2012 you had some live results, but all of a sudden last year I saw that you played in a $ 130,000 USD buy-in super high roller in Macau, where you finished eighth for $ 772,870. How did that come about?

PB: Basically, I was in Monte Carlo with Mike for last year’s EPT Grand Final and he heard about this tournament that was going to take place in Macau and it sounded like the best tournament that has ever been run. It’s going to be a $ 100,000 buy-in with more than 120 entries and mostly businessman, maybe only 30 big name pros in the field. He said I should try to play it, but I was hesitant because I hadn’t even played a $ 25,000 at that point. He insisted that it would be the best tournament ever run in the history of poker in terms of one that’s open to the public. So he said, “No matter what, you should try to get in.” These German kids were interested in buying my action, so I played.

EF: So how was that whole experience? Had you ever been out there before?

PB: No, I had never been to Macau. It was definitely pretty nerve wracking in the beginning. I hadn’t worn sunglasses at the table in forever, but on the first day I realized that it was my first really big buy-in so I should probably be extra careful about giving off tells. There were a lot of businessmen in the field, but there were also a lot of the high roller regulars like philbort (Phillip Gruissem) and Igor Kurganov, and if I end up at the table with them I don’t want to give anything away with tells. So I ended up wearing sunglasses. It was definitely nerve wracking, but probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing an event.

EF: The field definitely seemed a bit different than most $ 100,000 buy-in events, with a few more mid-stakes players.

PB: Yeah, it was definitely a unique tournament. I think if they run it again it will probably be worse because more pros will know how good it is. I think a lot of people didn’t bother because it was during the World Series of Poker, but this year they would probably make the trip.

Buddiga on day 1 of the 2014 Irish OpenEF: So just a few months ago in Canada you won the Fallsview Poker Classic $ 2,500 event for your first big live win after a deal you made three handed. As a result you’re now inside the top 50 in the Card Player Player of the Year race. Can you tell me about that experience?

PB: That was a pretty fun tournament. I was originally just going to head out there for the $ 5,000 main event, because I was in Colorado at the time visiting my girlfriend. Mike told me the tournaments were really good though, and encouraged me to make it out for the $ 2,500 as well as the main event. So I flew back to Canada and drove down with Mike. I ran hot immediately and chipped up incredibly quickly. I had around 80,000 at 150-300 blinds, which I never have, so it was pretty sweet and it was just smooth sailing from there. It was nice to finally close it out, after having the close results in the EPT events and the eighth in the Macau tournament, it felt good to get finally close it out.

EF: So where do you go from here, as far as your career is concerned?

PB: The main thing is for me to just keep working on getting better. I would like to be one of the elite tournament poker players. I’ve had pretty good results but I still think there’s a long way to go. It would be nice to win an online major, as I’m still playing a lot from Canada. After the Irish Open and the EPT Grand Final Mike and I are going back to Canada to play SCOOP (the Spring Championship of Online Poker on PokerStars). After that I’m heading to the WSOP for the whole time. Last year I only did the last few weeks, as I’m not a huge fan of Vegas, but now that my girlfriend is out in Colorado it’s a little easier for her to visit me, so I’m just going to be there from the very first event.

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