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When I Was A Donk – Ankush Mandavia

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Nov 08, 2017


Ankush MandaviaIn 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.

Georgia poker pro Ankush Mandavia began to turn heads on the high roller circuit back in 2015 and in 2016, he put together his best year yet. He started off by taking third in the $100,000 super high roller at the PCA for $787,640 and then won his first WSOP bracelet in the $5,000 event for $548,139. He finished off the year by winning the $25,000 high roller event at the WPT Five Diamond Classic for $403,532.

Mandavia has earned a total of $4.4 million on the live circuit, to go along with $3.1 million in winnings from online tournaments.

Here, Mandavia talks about his aggressive start in live poker.

Back in 2010, maybe 2011, when I first started playing live poker, I made the assumption that I could play just like I had been playing online. I thought I could outplay everyone on every hand. I just wanted to be in every pot, looking for reasons to get involved and steal another one. It didn’t matter if I had 8-6 offsuit on the button, I would call raises and just try to outplay people post flop.

The thing you learn about live poker real quick, is that once players make a hand, they don’t like to fold it. People are just way more stubborn with their hands live. Online, players are thinking about the hand more. In live poker, you constantly see guys calling three streets with middle pair because they are afraid that they are being bluffed.

Most people start playing poker in a full-ring, nine-handed game. So as a result, they tend to start off playing too tight. I had the opposite problem, because I played a lot of heads-up at first, so I had to find a way to tighten up.

Even though I kept running into people who wouldn’t fold, it took me too long to stop trying it anyway. Eventually I realized that it was okay to fold preflop every once in a while. I still probably play too many hands, but I’ve gotten it down to an amount that works for me at least.

Now when I look down at 8-6 offsuit on the button, I can throw it away pretty quickly. If I find myself getting really bored of folding for hours and hours, I can always just go play online, where I don’t ever have to fold.