Muskan Sethi, the first female Indian poker player to receive the Women’s achiever’s award by the President recalls the time when her excitement for poker used to keep her up the whole night. Sethi’s love for poker was often met with furrowed brows, but she stood strong to shatter the glass ceiling and carve her name in a game which is often considered to be ‘the men’s game’. Sethi was introduced to the game of poker by her father who used to watch it as a sport, but Sethi says that she began to take the game seriously after her then-boyfriend, now her husband introduced her to the online world of gaming and showed her the ways to play with real money.
“Fold and live to fold again”
The quoted stated by one of the greatest Texas Hold’Em and gin rummy players of all time, Stu Ungar sumps up the philosophy of the player players. Sethi too believes that poker has given her a purpose in her life and her passion for the game has helped her stay focussed throughout her journey.
The 27-year old says, “My father is a doctor and my mother was a social worker. She dedicated her life to the welfare of people. Coming from such a background where you have a legacy to carry forward, I was really scared to take up the game of poker.”
“My father has never touched cards. Even in Diwali or festivals, he used to stay away from the game of cards. But he never discouraged me from following poker as a sport.”
Sethi calls herself very expressive and she says that initially she used to talk a lot on poker table but gradually she learnt to control her emotions on the poker table. Talking about the initial days when she sat to play for live cash games, she said that her expressions used to give it all away but she adopted some breathing exercises to calm herself down which helped her hone her skills better.
“You need to appear strong when you are bluffing and you need to appear the same when you have a strong hand.”
“I advice the poker rookies to try meditation and yoga to calm themselves down because the professionals never leak a single expression out of their face. You need to be conscious about your presence and you need to work on it.”
Muskan Sethi opines that the current laws over the game of poker need more clarity. “Indian government should give clarity over the laws of poker and they should also make the winnings tax-free. I want the government to take the tax issues seriously and I wish India to adopt the UK model where everything is organized and controlled by the government,” she said.
There was a time when the game of poker was viewed through the lens of gambling and it was bounded by several stigmas. But now, with corporate sponsorships pouring in and poker pros like Muskan Sethi plating up their sleeves to introduce the world to their aces, Poker is no longer a folklore that’s dreaded by all and admired by none. It has today become one of the biggest emerging markets of India. There are 2 million existing poker players in India and the industry experts suggest that the number of poker players could triple in the coming years.
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