WSOP Main Event: Action stations and Akshay Kumar

by Howard Swains

Akshay Kumar goes by the name "groupco" on PokerStars, but at London's Gutshot card club, where he plays the majority of his bricks and mortar poker, he goes by something different.

A mild-mannered accountant by day, he can be seen darting into a phone-booth en route to the tables from which he emerges as "Action Akshay". Today, the action has followed Action to table 143 of the World Series, where Akshay sits with more than 86,000 chips and is somewhere very close to the chip lead.

"He only hit one two outer!" cheered a supporter as Akshay popped out for a break an hour or so ago. He was referring to one of those dreaded kings against aces showdowns so popular at the main event of the World Series, accounting for what seems to be about 90 per cent of bust outs. The blinds were just 100-200 at the time, Akshay was all in. And he had the kings.

But while anyone can get lucky once in a while, it's what you do with the fortune that counts. Akshay has taken those foundations, built on them, and is now a shoo-in for Day Two. Better still, he has a couple of days to sleep; having been delayed in New York yesterday, he only arrived to Vegas late last night and managed just three hours sleep before taking his place in flight B. But there's an understated, grounded, grit about Akshay that gives genuine cause for encouragement.

"I'm playing from my gut and really trying to put people on hands," he explained. "My original table had ten online qualifiers on it and while it wasn't weak, there were people who had never played live before. It's easier to read what they have and so far the instincts have been right."

It's no real surprise to anyone who has played against him. Akshay was a regular winner at the low-stakes club, where yours truly regularly donates. But Akshay has progressed to the 100-pound monthly comps and then a 750 pound freeze-out in Brighton, on England's south coast. There he scored the largest victory of his career, chopping a festival event for 13,500 pounds.

He is no stranger to the winner's circle, but refuses to get carried away himself.

"This tournament has only just started and there's no point getting excited yet. It's where I am at the end of next week that matters."

That's true, of course, and let's not overstate matters. He is among the chip leaders as the end of the day approaches. That is just a fact.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker