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Who Wants to be a Baller?

How do you grow a tree? You plant a seed in fertile soil — and then it needs sunshine and water. I planted a seed a few weeks ago when I launched You gave it sunshine and water.

I want to start today by saying how grateful I am at your response to I am not just happy that so many people played on our site or that they had good things to say about us. The reason I am happy and grateful is that so many of you got in touch with me to give me feedback about what we could do better.

Some friends contacted me directly and said, ‘Hey Goindi, nice site and all, but here’s what I think was missing.’ Many players sent feedback, either on FB or through blogs or by dropping emails. I listened, and took notes. Everything good is a work in progress. One does not plant a seed and call it a tree. Your feedback is the sunshine and the water we need.

Moving on from the biology, here’s the upshot: we’re continuously tweaking the site and making it better, and over the next few weeks, you’ll see some dramatic new initiatives. One of those is in the area of tournaments. Many of you love to play tournaments — hell, I know I do. But one common feedback I’ve received is that people are bored of the same sort of tournaments all the time. There are freezeouts, there are rebuys, and structures in all of them are more or less the same. But all tournaments should not be alike!

When I played the Asian circuit, and then the World Series, one of my great delights was in discovering different sort of tournaments. Not just freezeouts and rebuys, but also shootouts, bounty tournaments, heads-up tournaments, and even multi-day tournaments with delightfully slow structures. I effing loved playing those different types of tournaments! But one doesn’t really get to play them in India.

Until now. We’re coming up with a tournament series very soon on, where we’ll have all these different types of tournaments, with the different challenges they pose. We’ll have shootout tournaments where you basically have to win your table, and one person advances from each table to the next round, where they’re in the money, and you have to win your table again to advance. You can’t fold to the money in this format: you have to be aggro and show the other players who the boss is.

We’ll also have bounty tournaments, where every player carries a bounty on his head, so you get cold, hard cash every time you knock someone out. This changes the dynamics of tournaments. I can’t tell how many times, as a big stack, I’ve called a shorty’s all-in with a crap hand like J8o or Q3s because hey, bounty equity!

People who know me will tell you, I’m always looking for an excuse to spazz. Which is good for you — yes, YOU — because I will be playing these tournaments as well, and there’ll be an extra-large bounty on me. Easy money, come and get it!

We will also have a heads-up event: pure mano-o-mano, fight to the death (or rather, bust-out). There’s a gladiatorial element to heads-up play that I really enjoy — and if you haven’t tried it, I know you will as well.

And then, we also have multi-day events, where the structure is really slow and random monkeys aren’t going all-in with KJo every hand. (I gotta tell you, though, that KJ usually crushes my all-in range. Remember that in the bounty tournament.) These are usually so deep, it’s almost like playing a cash game — until you bust the guy who has KJ and he realizes, shit, he can’t rebuy!

We’re calling this series the Survivor Series, and we will have a leaderboard as well, with serious goodies on offer. But hey, at this point you will ask, Why Goindi, why so many new types of tournament? What is the point?

Well, two things. One, look at cricket. The game is enriched by the fact that there are so many different formats. Test matches, one-day internationals, Twenty20s, tennis-ball cricket all require different sets of skills, and have their own specialists. Not only is cricket more fun because there are so many formats, to suit every taste, but it also gives each individual player a chance to find his strengths and weaknesses, and to figure out what he is suited to.

Two, I want to be a training ground for young Indian players. I want players to learn the game and hone their skills on this site, and then go and conquer the world. I want people who play tournaments at to get India a World Series bracelet one day. I’m serious: the only kind of dream I like to dream is the big one.

And this is where the Survivor Series matters. Starting with this, I want to fill the schedule with tournaments of all kinds so that when you hit Vegas to play the WSOP, nothing is new to you. You’ve played every kind of tournament. You’ve seen it all and won it all. You’re a survivor.

You may call me a romantic, but I will always view this venture from the eyes of Abhishek Goindi the poker player, and not as a businessman alone. I want India to be the Land of a Million Ballers.

I have planted the seed. I hope you continue giving it sunshine and water!

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