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WPT: Legends of Poker Q and A -- Amit Makhija

Makhija Talks About His Rise from a Short Stack Today and His Tough Opponents

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Amit Makhija at the 2008 WPT Legends of PokerAmit Makhija is known online as "AMAK316," where he has won $352,265 in online tournaments. His live winnings have climbed to match that amount during 2008 ($354,903), as he has cashed a total of seven times in the first eight months of the year on the tournament trail. His largest cash came in the $10,000 pot-limit hold'em world championship that opened the World Series of Poker this summer when he made the final table and busted in fifth place ($198,528). He also finished in 20th place in the European Poker Tour Grand Final in April and took home $73,205. Those are his two largest cashes, to date, and Makhija definitely has his eyes set on the $1,091,428 first-place prize that will go to the winner at the WPT Legends of Poker here in Southern California on Thursday. He started the day low, but as you will read below, that did not dampen his spirits.

Ryan Lucchesi:
You started the day with just 11,000 and then grew that to 70,000 before the previous break. Now you have over 100,000. Tell me about how you grew your stack throughout the day.

Amit Makhija:
In the first orbit I doubled up with kings against A-Q. After that it was pretty smooth, and then I bluffed off half of my stack, and it was just terrible. I picked up a few pots and then re-stole a couple of times, and then I got aces vs. A-Q preflop, and those held. Then I had a bunch [of chips], and then the very next hand, the same guy that I doubled through tilt-shoved over one of Isaac Baron’s raises, and I isolated with jacks and Isaac folded. [My opponent] had K-Q suited, and then the flop came out king high, and I runner-runnered a straight with my jacks, and that put me up pretty good to like 80,000. Recently, I just played hand against some guy who was kind of playing back at me all day, and I raised preflop at 600-1,200 [blinds] to 3,200 and he made it 11,000, and I shoved for … he had about 40,000, so I shoved for 40,000. He tanked and called with sevens, but my nines held up, and I put some chips together. That’s pretty much how my day has been.

RL:
What was your mindset this morning coming in with just 11,000?

AM:
It was kind of depressing having one-third of the starting stack coming into the morning, but I’ve played that kind of stack all of the time online. A short stack is not that hard, and it was still 25 big blinds. So, I wasn’t going to panic and I was going to be patient and wait for a good spot, and I was lucky to find a couple, and my hands held up and it’s been pretty smooth.

RL:
How big of a help is it to get the practice playing with a short stack online for when you have to deal with it in $10,000 buy-in live tournaments?

AM: I see one of the biggest leaks that a lot of people who play only live have is that when they get really short they just start shipping their chips in and they get pretty impatient and they don’t know how to play the short stack well. I feel like that is one of the advantages that online players have.

RL:
Has your live tournament success this year, with seven cashes total, including your deep finish at the EPT Grand Final and WSOP final-table appearance, inspired you to play more live tournaments in search of your first major victory?

AM:
I have just been playing live for a little while and I have cashed in most of my bigger buys-ins, so I have been running really hot. That’s been good … I feel like I’m ready to win one of these. I’ve been close a few times; Monte Carlo was really painful going out 20th, being close to such a big cash. That was my first deep run in a major.

RL:
Did you use August to work on certain aspects of your poker game or just relax?

AM:
I actually didn’t play any tournaments online or live during August. I got better at cash games; I was playing a lot of cash games. But most of the time, I was just taking it easy. I got a personal trainer and tried to get into shape a little bit and just tried to stay away from poker, and get into a better schedule.

RL:
What part of your cash game strategy were you trying to brush up on?

AM: Mostly heads up, I’ve been watching training videos online and trying to get good at heads up cash. It’s been going pretty well, actually, and I had one of my better months of the year in August after the Series.

RL:
Now that you have reset yourself during August, what events are you looking to play during the last half of the year?

AM:
The next few ones are Borgata coming in September, and I’m going to be playing the WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) online, which is huge this year, like $30,000 in buy-ins on that. And then I’m going over to Europe and playing the World Series of Poker Europe, and then EPT London. It should be interesting.

RL:
One last question about today. You have Isaac Baron in the 5 seat, Jon Friedberg in the 7 seat, and you’re sitting in the 8 seat. How are you approaching those guys with position?

AM: I’m super thankful to have position on both of those guys, because on Saturday Isaac had position on me literally all day, and that kind of sucked, because it made me play really tight, and I didn’t really get anything going with that. With position on them, I know what they’re going to do before, and I know how both of them pretty well. I’ve played hundreds of hands with Isaac, at least, and I think he is the best no-limit hold’em tournament player in the world. He’s really, really good … and he’s just crushed online, and obviously I’m worried about him, but I kind of know his game, more or less. I’m not as worried, I feel like I know what he does in certain situations.