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Poker Stories Podcast With Mohsin Charania

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Feb 27, 2019

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Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Age: 34
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Live Tournament Earnings: $6.1 Million

Mohsin Charania became just the sixth person, and is one of only eight total players, who have won poker’s Triple Crown. To earn the honor, a player needs to win a World Series of Poker bracelet, a World Poker Tour title, and a European Poker Tour main event. The Chicago-native picked up his EPT title back in 2012, winning the Grand Finale for more than €1.3 million. He won the WPT Grand Prix de Paris in 2013, and then the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in 2014 for almost $1.5 million. The University of Illinois graduate then completed the Triple Crown in 2017 when he took down a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event at the WSOP.

Although he briefly worked in finance and considered law school, poker kept calling Charania back. In total, the 33-year-old has earned more than $6.1 million in live tournaments, and just slightly more than that online as well. Before Black Friday, Charania was one of the top-ranked online players, competing under the names ‘sms9231’ and ‘chicagocards1.’

Highlights from this interview include getting used to jewelry, an athlete’s walk of shame, taking the hard classes for fun, being 21 in Vegas and playing $50-$100 no-limit, going broke and needing mom’s debit card to get home, getting a real job for just two weeks, winning TV upgrades and furniture, leaving law school for poker, a diet of coke, pizza, and Indian food, turning a win into a tenth-place finish, a helpful basketball game with Faraz Jaka, interview do-overs, winning poker’s Triple Crown, why life is a honeymoon, finding a woman who understands Sundays, swapping with a WSOP main event champion, why Americans are the worst poker players in the world, and Kevin McAllister with a gun.

Top 10 Live Tournament Scores

Date Tournament Place Winnings
April 2012 EPT Grand Final 1st $1,785,780
Dec. 2014 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic 1st $1,477,890
Oct. 2013 WPT Grand Prix de Paris 1st $469,477
June 2017 WSOP $1,500 NLHE 1st $364,438
March 2016 WPT Rolling Thunder 2nd $192,132
Sept. 2012 WPT Grand Prix de Paris 5th $119,119
Nov. 2010 WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals 6th $104,741
July 2016 Aria $25,000 High Roller 4th $96,000
June 2013 WSOP $1,500 NLHE 6th $72,208
June 2009 WSOP $10,000 PLHE 10th $57,645

Highlights

On His First Trip To Vegas When He Was 21

Mohsin Charania: Then I went to Vegas with like a couple grand, played $5-$10 and then at some point I was playing $50-$100. Just every time I had enough to buy into the next level I would just go for it.

Julio Rodriguez: You just went, $5-$10, $10-$20, $25-$50, $50-$100? And you just showed up in Vegas with like 20 grand or something?

MC: More like $5,000. I showed up with a friend of mine I think we had 10 grand combined. I learned it from him too. He would just go play whatever the highest stakes were with his one bullet. But I remember the game. It was like Brad Booth and Kenny Tran and Mimi Tran.

JR: These were the high rollers of 2006.

MC: Yes, these were like the high rollers of the time. And then I remember they were all telling me to go play the [WSOP] main event. I was like, ‘No. I just made like 40k last night, why would I ever do that?’

I bought into the main event. At the end of day 1B I had a top five stack. In middle of day two I was close to the chip lead. And then I remember getting in A-K to aces for like 100 big blinds. Then I went back and start playing the cash games. Everyone was like, ‘busting the main event is the worst day of the year,’ and I was just like, ‘I don’t even know what tournament I’m playing.’ I don’t know how to play tournaments… I play them online.

JR: So, your bankroll got to a peak of $200k that summer?

MC: Yeah. Probably close to $150k, $200k. But like it was all on the table. It wasn’t like I bought in for 10k and I have $190k [behind]… And then I lost it all.

JR: How much of it was bad play versus bad beats?

MC: No, I got it in with KDiamond Suit QDiamond Suit on an A-J-10 board with two diamonds against a set… and the board just paired. And I was like, ‘Oh fuck.’ And I probably ran so insane all summer and that the board hadn’t paired, so it was due for a pair. And I [didn’t] have any money and my friend that I came with didn’t have any money, because he lost it all.

JR: Wait! That was the rest of it?

MC: That was a $200k-something pot. Used my mom’s debit card, flew home.

JR: You had zero dollars?

MC: Zero. Not a penny to my name.

JR: You had $200k, and a few days later nothing.

MC: I think I was using her debit card to get lunch. I had no money. I was just lucky my name was on her bank account, I guess.

On A Time When His Confidence Backfired

Mohsin Charania: I did my first, full WSOP. I final tabled the $10k pot-limit hold’em.
Julio Rodriguez: Right. So yeah. They come to you and they give you the bio sheet.
MC: They give me the bio sheet with ten people left.

JR: Anybody who’s ever made a final table the World Series of Poker has to fill out the bio sheets so that anybody commentating can have some factoids to say about you. How old are you? Are you’re a pro? What’s your biggest cash? Whatever. They asked you what was your biggest poker accomplishment.

MC: And I just wrote, ‘winning the 10k pot-limit hold’em event at the World Series of Poker in 2009’.

JR: The event you were currently playing in?

MC: And I was like probably six of ten.

JR: You were so confident. Your greatest accomplishment was something that hadn’t happened yet.

MC: Yeah. First place was like six hundred grand. Yeah. In hindsight, it was probably one of the softest final tables I’ll ever play because it’s pot-limit hold’em and the only people that survive are really tight. And I was pretty young so I wasn’t that tight, but I was smart enough to know that I needed to play tight in this tournament. I was also smart enough to know that I could get away with stealing a lot, even though there’s no antes because everyone is playing tight. It was like Will the Thrill [Failla] and Eugene Todd and… I forgot who ended up winning.

JR: Yeah. So you’re clearly the favorite.

MC: I thought I was by far the favorite. [At the time], I probably won more online tournaments than everyone at the table combined.

JR: So how did you finish?

MC: I got tenth. I got all-in queens to A-K and A-K and they both won. And then I was like, ‘Shit!’ I think I cashed for $60k and I don’t remember picking it up from the desk.

JR: (laughing) It’s just so funny… and you didn’t even make the final table.

MC: I didn’t make the final table. I don’t know why they made me fill out a bio sheet.

JR: They make ten people fill it out for only nine spots.

MC: And I wrote I was going to win and I got tenth. Within five minutes of filling out the sheet I got tenth. ♠

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.