Poker ace Sandeep 'Effuno' Varma crushed the PowerPlay leaderboard like it was nothing, last week and has raked in a tonne of money in winnings and rewards.
We got up close and personal in a candid chat with a beaming Effuno , who spilled the beans on how he's playing, what he plans to do next and of course, who he absolutely goes crazy playing against, on the 9stacks tables.
Team 9stacks : Congratulations, Sandeep on that massive win! You’ve profited 3.5 Lakhs by playing tournaments alone, in March. Plus you're winning 1.8 Lakhs as part of the leaderboard prizes. This is beyond awesome.
Tell us a little about your PowerPlay series journey. Did you have a plan in mind?
Effuno: Thankyou! I had always had the Tournament Leaderboard in my mind , but, my priority was to play each game to the best of my ability. I missed out on the PowerPlay 1 leaderboard by very few points. Part of it was because I missed one game. This time, there was no way I was going to miss a single game.
Plus.. nearly 75% of my buy-ins were free tickets I earned through deposits. This helped make it easier for me.
Team 9stacks : Hahah! Good going! When did you realize you were going to win the PowerPlay Series?
Effuno: I had this one wrapped by Wednesday. But the previous one went all the way to the last day. I was relieved to see Sagar (dont3betme) bust out of the final game outside of money, and I spewed off my stack near the bubble, in the excitement. It was PLO - had no clue what I was doing anyway!
This time around, I had a few stellar days towards the end of the first week and then at the start of the 2nd week, wherein I built up a good lead and maintained it throughout.
Team 9stacks : Was there a player that you watched out for, during the series?
Effuno: Dont3betme, Werewolf, Chocha, Elmonje, Jon$now were all in it after the first week and I did keep track of their progress during games after the first week.
Team 9stacks : How do you deal with the on-table aggression applied by many players during the games?
Effuno: I did rack up quite a few tickets through your deposit offers and was clearing it on 10BB games. This helped me be aggressive myself, during the re-entry stages.
Many times, I built a good stack by the end of the re-entry stages so that I could afford to let someone else be aggressive and wait for my chance patiently. I learnt how to wait for a good card by playing on the 10BB tables. Now I like to watch my opponents lose patience after a point.
There are times where I fight aggression with aggression, but the times when I can't, it is just good to sit back, watch and learn.
Team 9stacks : You are quite the champion on the 10BB cash tables. What do you think about them? How do you like playing on these tables.
Effuno: They are insanely fun, man! It helps with MTT aggression too - the adrenaline rush from these are unparalleled in poker, have to admit. This spills over into MTTs as well.
Over the past one month, I've either run deep into one or more final two tables in MTTs, almost everyday, across different sites, and with a good stack, more often than not .
I feel that the adrenaline rush that comes by playing 10BB games helps me play without any fear and built up stacks during mid stages. The times I stopped 10BB games to focus on Final Tables, I've found a sudden drop in aggression.
These days I keep playing one or two 10 BB games on the side, even when I'm on a final table in a tournament. Helps me play without fear on Final Tables!
Effuno : And, all this is BEFORE we get into the profits from these games, thanks largely to the high rakeback through Vegas bonuses, tickets and Stackup points. I've had my best month of poker, so much so that I've dropped a few daily major MTTs on different sites to focus more on the 10BB games.
Team 9stacks : Tell us a little about your thoughts on the PowerPlay Leaderboard challenge. What about it excited the poker player in you?
Effuno: Oh it’s the thrill of winning consistently, that excites me. It's one thing to win a tournament, but the added challenge of performing consistently is what makes playing tournament leaderboards like so much fun.
Team 9stacks : Do you think leaderboard challenges serve as keeping the motivation level high for a player?
Effuno: Absolutely. I am quite a lazy person (not proud of it), but I haven't missed a single day since you guys started TLBs. Have to admit, I've been rewarded handsomely for my commitment. Thank you guys.
Team 9stacks : How do you compare PowerPlay with the other leaderboard challenges on other sites?
Effuno: Each format has its own charm, but PowerPlay rewards consistency a bit more than others. You can't have big points lead with one or two scores, nor can you make up a deficit with one or two wins, but have to keep at it over 2 weeks.
Team 9stacks : Let's go back a bit. Tell us a little about how you started playing poker. When did you start playing poker, who introduced you, how did you start playing on 9stacks?
Effuno: I started back in 2006. Those were play money games I found on Pogo. I went looking for freerolls after that and played those for a few days.
I picked up the game again after my MS a few years later. 2+2 offered free strategy books for signing up to poker sites..I signed up, got some of the best poker books from those days, and took up poker as a profession a year or so later.
Team 9stacks: You're on your way to crack Level Baller in the LFGVegas2.00 Challenge. how has your LFGvegas journey upto now been? Did you think you'd make it so far?
Effuno: It has been wild at times. I'm starting to realise more and more that the mental toughness required to go through this is enormous - I cannot afford to be weak or I won’t survive.
Have to admit, I had given up after January. The plan was to grind it slow and steady to 50k and wrap it up. Then came the 10BB games. And I felt like my life suddenly had a renewed sense of purpose!
As an MTT player with an SNG background, I couldn't have asked for a more suitable way to earn those points.
Team 9stacks: You are neck to neck with Jon $now and cr4ck and are followed by noobpro and chocha, what do you think about their game?
Effuno: A bunch of crazies. I hate to see them on my tables. Seeing their shoving and especially calling ranges, even Nash would roll his eyes in his grave and be like " WTH was that about?". Trying to match them is turning me into one of those crazies ( there, I said it - that’s my excuse)! Alas, they'll be part of my life for the next couple of months !
Team 9stacks : Haha! Oh we’re waiting to see all of you together in Vegas this time. What's next for Effuno? You've won another Vegas package in the PowerPlay series, you're killing it on the tables here. What's next on your list?
Effuno: I do plan on visiting Vegas - whether it's for poker or tinder, only time will tell ;)
I'm not quite a big fan of LIVE games and I hate travelling . But, guess it’s worth visiting Vegas once in my life, especially since it’s the 50th Anniversary and all.
But for the Vegas visit, the plan is to continue playing a few MTTs a day and tons of 10BB games. Right now the plan is to go for 500K on the Vegas board.
Team 9stacks : There is a question that everyone has been dying to ask. What does effuno mean? How did you come about this name?
Effuno: *laughs* Who ? why ?
I am an F1 fan - so much so that I even punted some buy-ins (staked by parents ) on an MS in race car aerodynamics, back in 2007 ! That’s THREE WSOP Main Events I could have donated to! :-P
eff = F , uno = 1 !
Team 9stacks : HaHa! Ohkay then! One last question before you go.
India is beginning to really warm up to poker. Where do you see professional poker in India going in the next 5 years?
Effuno: Hopefully it garners a bit more acceptance in the country as a strategy game. Even now there are plenty of very good players who will not turn pro because their family won’t accept it. I myself have never had to face much resistance from my family. They weren't exactly happy to start with, but got used to it over time and understands it as a strategy game now. Not many are that lucky.
More exposure for poker as a skill based sport in the mainstream media will help minimize the negativity surrounding the game.
Indian players achieving success in major live events will contribute significantly to that. I believe we'll see more of that in the coming years - we have some excellent players in our country !
Thank you, Sandeep for such a candid , fun chat. We wish you all the best for the 500K and we're really hoping to see you in Vegas this year with #9stacksTeamIndia