Chandni Malik is an advocacy and communications specialist for development who was introduced to poker by friends who swore by the game and has been playing the same for quite a few years now. However, she took to it seriously in the past one year. Playing poker online has been a recent phenomenon. She goes by the name ‘Maidumji’ on the poker table and if there was a movie to be made on her poker journey, it would be called ‘Girls just want to have fun”. Chandni is well known on tables as the fiery “maidumji” who speaks her mind in her blogs.
Having grown up playing card games at home, what drew her to poker was the fact that it requires skills more than just luck and there is so much to learn even after you understand the basics. She believes poker is an intelligent game that requires discipline, keen observation, and confidence.
Over the years she’s met and played against different types of poker players and always cracks up when she meets the ones she likes to call “the crybabies”. According to her, not only do they hate losing, they love to consistently whine about the loss and go on a major tilt.
A keen observer, Chandni has noticed the quirks and eccentricities of a lot of poker players but there are a few who are more clearly etched in her mind than others. “I remember meeting a player in the casino at Goa, who had all these weird rituals around his game. Before any tournament, he would listen to a particular song 3 times because he believed it brought him luck, and he always chewed gum at the cash table. If not getting cards, he would put on his earphones and listen to an audiobook for luck!”, says Chandni.
A diligent player and an avid reader, Chandni loves devouring poker books to stack up to her skills and is currently devouring the ever-fascinating “ Harrington by Harrington”. She likes to loosen up a bit before a big tournament, remind herself to only focus on enjoying the game and play the cards she is dealt during the game.
When she started out, Chandni faced some flak for her decision to play poker. Whenever she mentions poker as one of her passions, a lot of people perceive it as gambling and hence something unpleasant or immoral. She would love for people to see it as a sport that requires serious discipline, skill, and grit. “It is not easy to be consistently good at the game, and the same requires a lot of practice and hard work”, she adds.
The one thing that does bother her a lot about playing in a largely male-dominated field is the table talk, particularly the kinds that has people using the "man card" and trying to get under the skin with sexual innuendos and verbal abuse.
If Chandni could change something about the game then that would be the number of buy-ins involved while playing because she believes it would reduce the amount of random play and she would also ban people who abuse on the table. It's a fun-filled game of skill, and hence she would encourage more play and less talk.
She believes women are a bit more conservative players than men. She hasn't played with too many women yet, but do think women are less aggressive at the table. On encouraging more women to come up and start playing poker she says, “I would definitely urge everyone to try their hand at poker, not only is it a fun way to bond with friends, it is also a great sport that tests your intelligence, courage, and skills. Since there are lesser women players as compared to men, I think it is all the more important for more women to enter the field and give it a shot. My advice is not to be intimidated by the game or the people playing with you, but trust your own game and consistently trying to better yourself. I believe the poker industry is thriving at the moment, and there should be a different game and tournament options for people to choose from, based on skill level as well as financial viability. The more inclusive it is, the better it is for everyone. Also, I would love to see some "women only" events that encourage women to explore the game in a safe, non-threatening environment."