Nikunj Jhunjhunwala won the World Poker Tour (WPT) Main Event on Monday, outlasting nearly 700 players for his first WPT title. For the victory, he won 6,635,000 rupee, or about $92,600. He now has $145,809 in lifetime live tournament earnings and though he has just four cashes, three are tournament wins. Not a bad track record.
WPT India, for the second year in a row, was held in one of the more interesting locations that one will find a World Poker Tour Main Event: aboard a cruise ship. The Deltin Royale Casino played host to the tour stop, floating on the Mandovi River in Goa. It’s not that cruise ships are oddball places for poker – my one success in a poker tournament was on a cruise – it’s just that major tourneys are not often found there.
Other than WPT India, perhaps the most notable example of a significant cruise-based poker competition is the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, which debuted in 2004 on a ship. The field was just 221 players, but because the WPT was quickly growing in popularity (and the PCA was a smash hit), the event moved to Atlantis on Paradise Island the following year. The 2007 PCA was also interesting, as the final table was played outdoors and it got very windy; keeping control of the cards was a new concern for the players.
Going into Day 3, the last day of the tournament, Jhunjhunwala was second-to-last of the nine remaining players with 1.460 million chips. For comparison, chip leader Deepak Singh had 4.595 million. He was patient, outlasting two players before making a big call with A-K when Amit Jain moved all-in with A-T. Jhujhunwala had Jain covered, the board helped nobody, and Jhunjhunwala was up to 2.900 million.
Quickly thereafter, he picked off Akshay Nasa’s K-J with pocket Queens to grow his stack to 5.100 million and narrow the field to five players. Jhunjhunwala continued doing damage later, knocking out Deepak Singh in fourth place to take a healthy chip lead with 9.600 million chips. This time, he needed a little bit of luck, as his A-5 suited was able to find a flush on the river against Singh’s Jacks.
After Sahil Mahboobani eliminated Vidur Singhal in third place, it was almost dead-even going into heads-up, with Mahboobani ahead slightly, 10.515 million to 10.355 million.
It looked good for Mahboobani early on, as he took about a 2-to-1 lead, but JhunJhunwala doubled once to pull nearly even and then again to cripple his opponent. With a diminutive stack of 1.600 million against 19.300 million, Mahboobani had to just shove pre-flop with K-8. Though he had just 9-5 suited, Jhunjhunwala made the easy call and ended up turning a pair to clinch the victory.
Afterward, Jhunjhunwala told WPT.com, “It’s sinking in now that I’ve taken it down.”
He also gave tons of credit to his supportive friends, saying, “There was a point in time where the chips were down, and he had a 3-to-1 chip lead on me, and my rail was just in his ears, it was fantastic. My rail was behind me, egging me on. We have been playing cash games almost every other day together. All thanks to them, they kept me motivated.”
2018 World Poker Tour India Main Event – Final Table Results
1. Nikunj Jhunjhunwala – 6,635,000
2. Sahil Mahboonbani – 4,653,000
3. Vidur Singhal – 3,000,000
4. Deepak Singh – 2,207,000
5. Hidangmayum Somesh – 1,683,000
6. Akshay Nasa – 1,341,000
7. Amit Jain – 1,111,000
8. Kanishka Upreti – 884,000
9. Harsh Dembla – 663,976