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When I Was A Donk: Amit Makhija

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Jul 08, 2015


Amit MakhijaIn this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Amit Makhija has been playing poker professionally since 2008 when he started travelling the tournament circuit. Since then, he has racked up $2.6 million in live tournament earnings and millions more playing online.

His biggest score came at the 2008 WPT Legends of Poker main event, where he finished second for $563,320. In October of 2014, he chopped the Card Player Poker Tour main event at the Bicycle Casino for another $135,980 and most recently he finished second in a $25,000 buy-in High Roller event at the Aria for $134,770.

Here, Makhija recalls a mistake he made during a deep run in the WSOP main event, when he finished 47th for $156,293.

I was very deep in the World Series of Poker main event back in 2012. I think I had around 50 or 55 big blinds with about 50 people left in the tournament, which at the time was a decent amount of chips.

Marc-Andre Ladouceur had just been moved to the table and I really didn’t know anything about him other than he was a mostly a mid-stakes cash game player. On one of his first hands at the table, he raised on the button and I called out of the small blind with K-Q offsuit. Normally, I’d three-bet that hand, but without any information I decided to call.

The flop came down K-7-7 rainbow and I checked. He bet, and I went over my options. I decided to check-raise, but in hindsight, that wasn’t the best play considering there aren’t many kings in my range that I’d be willing to play for stacks with and I don’t often have a seven either. I was basically daring him to make a play by inducing him into raising.

He raised and I called, hoping he would bluff it off on the turn or more than likely, shut down most of his bluff attempts because calling shows a lot of strength on my part. The turn was a brick, like a deuce, and it went check, check as expected. But the river was a very ugly ace, basically the only card I don’t want to see. It’s a terrible card because he can pretty comfortably shove any ace for value and not be worried about me ever having a seven.

I checked and he shoved for one and a half times the pot. I picked up a couple of physical tells that told me he wasn’t very strong, but I didn’t know the guy at all and really had no idea how reliable those were. I tanked for a long time, going back and forth several times before I ultimately played it cautiously and folded. He showed J-8 high and I was left with 30 big blinds or so.

I should’ve called, but I’m not too upset with myself for folding. My biggest problem on the hand was choosing to take such a high variance line in the first place, which put me into a tough spot. I really should’ve tried to play a much smaller pot, especially because I was up against a good player that I didn’t know anything about.