PCA 2014: $7m man Shyam Srinivasan steps out of the shadows, shines on Paradise Island
We may as well stop the Main Event now. Shyam Srinivasan is going to win the PCA. I know this because he just told me so. Cast-iron belief is one thing, but Srinivasan has the talent, chip stack, and online results with which to back up his claim.
Srinivasan - pronounced Schree-Na-Vas-An - is one of the most successful online grinders of all time, but he's largely kept his head down and raked it in on the virtual felt. He's clocked up a recorded $7m in tournaments playing at PokerStars, as "g's zee", and Full Tilt Poker, as "s_dot111".
The Torontonian is currently middle of the pack among the final 11 players of the PCA Main Event with $112,400 locked up.* This is already his largest live score topping his previous $ 68,728 won for 4th at the World Series of Poker way back in 2006. For a player of his talent that's a long dry spell for any major cashes.
"I kind of lost a lot of money playing high stakes buy-ins for a while and it made me, you know, turtle up a bit," said Srinivasan, seated at a round picnic table outside the PCA poker players' kitchen, enjoying a quick cigarette during a break in the action. "I play for a living so it's hard to take a lot of big shots, so to say. When I started playing poker people weren't selling action. The industry was very different. Everyone bought their own action. I kind of ran a little shitty, but maybe I wasn't prepared for it."
Taking online skills into the real world
Srinivasan looks more than prepared here in The Bahamas. He's playing great and looks more than relaxed at the table beneath a pair of dark glasses and black and grey chequered beanie. His speech at the table to Tom Hall and Mike McDonald at the table, and Carter "cswidler" Swidler on the rail, reveals his online origins. It's all numbers, jamming, and shrugs. That relaxed demeanour has been worked upon.
"I started playing a lot more cash games live, which helped me out with a lot more of this, you know what I mean?" said Srinivasan, speaking quickly and intently. "The transition from playing online to jumping into these things you kind of rush it. You need to slow it down a little bit more. Playing cash has helped me a lot.
"I think the big key difference is adjusting to the time. You have a lot more time and live ranges are a lot tighter. I've relied on my post-flop game a lot more, which has helped me with the cash again. I've been playing a lot of 25/50 and you can't really afford to make mistakes because you're deep all the time so it forces you not to level in hands pre-flop a lot. It's helped me a lot in this tournament.
"This year I wanted to play a lot more live because I've been playing this seven or eight years and what's it all for? I'm 32-years-old. You got to go for it at some point," he said with a smile, pausing to laugh before taking another drag on his smoke.
Srinivasan has been relatively anonymous in the poker industry, something that he freely admits to, but something changed, and in the last couple of years he's started to immerse himself in the community. It seems to be paying dividends.
"I think I'm gonna win," said Srinivasan, looking like a man fully committed to his statement. "That's it. I'm not here to do anything else. I know I'm gonna win. I told myself I'm gonna win. I haven't even looked at the pay structure. I'm focussing on nothing but winning, and anything else would be a disappointment to me because you don't know when this opportunity will come up again."
When some players come out with this kind of hyperbole it's easy to smile and think, 'Right, good luck with that,' but Srinivasan is convincing. I'm left feeling that I should wish the rest of the field good luck. They're going to need it.
*By the time this published only 10 players remained.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.