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Generation Next -- Ravi Raghavan

Ravi Raghavan Trusts His Instincts to the Tune of $1.8 Million in Cashes Online

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Jan 08, 2010


Trust your gut. It’s easier said than done, especially when your tournament life is on the line. Yet, it’s the intangible asset that Ravi Raghavan relies on when he fires up tournaments daily online. Each day, for the most part, he faces many of the same players and capitalizes on his knowledge of their games to steal pots or make hero calls for his tournament life. And most of the time, his instincts are dead-on.

“Basically, the way to be very successful online is to play the most optimally against the regulars,” said Raghavan. “You have to learn to adjust to everyone’s game and not be afraid to go with your gut. I think a lot of players feel one thing, but don’t want to do it because they’re afraid to risk their stacks. I always go with my instincts, no matter what.”
Ravi Raghavan
When Raghavan let go of the fear of busting out, it was the turning point that catapulted his game to six-figure cashes. In October of 2008, he captured the PokerStars Sunday Million event, for $184,500, then three weeks later placed fourth in the Full Tilt Online Poker Series X no-limit hold’em six-max rebuy event No. 16, for $83,600. And 2009 has been just as lucrative for the economics major. Highlights include wins in the PokerStars Sunday $500 no-limit hold’em and Full Tilt Poker $1,000 Monday events, for a total of $178,000. That’s not bad for a 23-year-old who went against the trend and actually stayed in college. Raghavan will graduate next year from the University of Illinois with a degree in economics.

Next June, once graduation day passes, he will put his finely honed poker senses to the ultimate test by traveling the live poker circuit. Card Player caught up with him just before fall exams shut down his tournament game for a few weeks.

Craig Tapscott: How have you fine-tuned your game against the regulars online?

Ravi Raghavan: The thing that elevated my game the most was when I started three-betting more frequently and balancing my hand ranges against regulars.

CT: Many players get three-bet happy. How do you determine when to attack preflop with three-bets?

RR: It’s pretty situational and based on game flow. You can do it at a tight table if there is not that much three-betting going on. But at an aggressive table, you want to pick an aggressive person to three-bet, because he will give you more credit, especially if you’ve been playing tight.

CT: What if you have an aggressive image?

RR: Well, you should be three-betting whenever you have position with weaker hands — and when you have a strong hand, because your three-bet will look weak if you’ve been very aggressive.

CT: Do you size your three-bets differently depending on your position?

RR: From the blinds, I make my three-bets a little bit bigger, which is what most cash-game players do. I think that’s pretty standard. However, I see some very successful players who three-bet and four-bet small when out of position, but the difference is that they play very, very well post-flop.

CT: In the large fields online, what mistakes do the weaker players tend to make over and over again?

RR: They make their preflop raises too big, especially when the antes kick in. They raise four times the big blind. Also, they don’t double-barrel or triple-barrel enough. They will fire one barrel on the flop and give up. That’s how the regulars take advantage of the weaker players. They will float them in position with any two cards, and if their opponent checks, they will take it down on the turn almost 100 percent of the time.

CT: You’ve been very successful in closing out final tables once you’ve gotten there. What advice do you have for players who get to the final table when short-stacked?

RR: I play very tight. I’m looking for good spots to shove unless it’s against a pretty loose-aggressive player. In that spot, I will shove with a pretty wide range. I actually play pretty ABC poker, like it’s a sit-and-go.

CT: And with a big stack?

RR: I will play very aggressively from the start. And I really like to play against the other big stacks, and put pressure on them to see how they react. I like to start creating some metagame with them right away, because they are usually the opponents you will see when you get heads up or three-handed.

CT: Good luck with the exams, and congrats on staying in school after cashing for almost $2 million. That’s very commendable. Spade Suit