The Top 5 Poker Pros in India’s All-Time Money List
Poker is one of the fastest-growing pursuits in India. At the time of writing, the country is home to no less than eight poker millionaires, winning seven-figure sums at poker tables around the world.
This is no mean feat when you consider the variance which exists with playing multi-table tournaments. Variance is one of the most important concepts to understand for poker newbies, as it explains the upswings and downswings of playing poker. It is underpinned by the fact that poker is largely a game of probabilities and there are times when variance occurs, resulting in low-probability outcomes rearing their ugly head.
The beauty of poker is that the best players can circumnavigate the issue of variance and still come out on the right side over the long term. This quintet of India’s most successful poker players to date are testament to this. Below, we look at the five biggest earners in the poker scene, with a glance at their most historic wins thus far.
37-year-old Vivek Rajkumar is no longer a professional poker player but he is still streets ahead of the competition in the Indian All-Time Money List. He retired from the game in around 2019 with career earnings from live poker breaking the $8 million mark.
The computer engineering graduate spent more than a decade in the game and enjoyed some memorable moments through the years. He final tabled a European Poker Tour event in London in 2009 but landed a $3.6m payday in 2019 at a charity event which set him up for retirement. The closest he came to a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet was a sixth-place finish in a Limited Hold’em tournament in 2007.
Santhosh Suvarna has some way to go to usurp Rajkumar from the top of the All-Time Money List, but he’s racked up almost $3.8 million in live poker earnings to date.
In October 2022, Suvarna entered a Platinum Pass Mystery Bounty event at the London leg of the 2022 European Poker Tour (EPT). He came second, taking home a payday of almost $110,000 in one night. He’s also enjoyed some good fortune at a string of high-roller events in Cyprus, Las Vegas and Vietnam in 2023, underlining his status as India’s number-one active poker player right now.
Nipun Java is India’s most successful ever player at the WSOP. Java has no less than three WSOP bracelets to his name. His first WSOP bracelet came in 2017 when he landed a Tag Team event. One month later, Java landed a second, winning the WSOP Online Championship and bagging a $237,688 payday. Java’s online success at the WSOP continued in July this year, taking home the Lucky 7’s No Limit Hold’em event for a $195,151 prize.
Java resides in Los Angeles these days and is very active in the WSOP circuit.
Ankit Ahuja is currently fourth on India’s All-Time Money List with just over $1.8 million in live poker earnings. Ahuja is a regular on the Las Vegas poker scene, appearing and cashing in some of the biggest deep stack tournaments at iconic poker rooms like the Venetian. Ahuja also took down the Dublin Poker Cup at the 2017 PokerStars Festival in the Irish capital city.
Ahuja has been active in the industry for the best part of a decade and even this year he’s made his mark. At the Barcelona leg of the EPT, Ahuja reached the final table and finished fifth to earn a cool $193,412 in a city famed more for its football team, including stars like Ansu Fati. Ahuja’s also racked up final tables in events on the Gold Coast in Australia.
Abhinav Iyer is number five on the All-Time Money List of Indian poker players, however, he’s very close to overtaking Ahuja with almost $1.7 million of live earnings himself. Iyer made history by becoming the first India-born poker player to win a WSOP bracelet. His victory surpassed Paawan Bansal’s record – who ironically finished runner-up in the same tournament called ‘The Closer’ – earning a cool $565,346.
It’s fair to say that all five of these Indian poker players have blazed a trail for the next generation of budding pros to follow in the years to come.