WSOP 2017: Level-by-level with Aditya Agarwal

Aditya Agarwal was playing his 12th World Series of Poker and, having cashed in six of his previous outings, including last year, he was in confident mood ahead of this year's tournament. We followed the 32-year-old Team PokerStars Pro from India level-by-level through the Main Event, until he was knocked out in the second level of Day 3. This is a close-up insight into a player's journey through the World Series, ending short of the money this time.

Blinds 1,200-2,400 (ante 300)

And just like that, the game is up for Aditya Agarwal. The Team Pro from India is out in around 2,000th place. That's how cruel poker can be: he was chip leader on Day 1C yet busts a significant distance from the money, ending another year at the WSOP.

The final hand was, in poker speak, A-Q < K-9. GG. Agarwal had only 19,000 so this was a totally standard spot.

Thanks again, Aditya, for sharing the highs and eventual lows. If you're thinking of having a crack at the WSOP, have a read through this post and see if you're ready for the swings!

Here's to 2018...


The last sighting of Aditya Agarwal at 2017 WSOP

Blinds 1,000-2,000 (ante 300)

No beating around the bush, the situation is now critical for Aditya Agarwal. Our hero finished Level 11 with only 19,500 chips--a tournament low and only 8 BBs heading into Level 12, where blinds will be 12,000/24,000.

The damage was done in a huge pot where Agarwal ended up betting more than half of his remaining stack--36,000 from about 68,000--with a straight, but then folding when his opponent set him all-in. There was a flush draw and a bigger straight out there, and Agarwal said he thought he was beat.

Although that left him critically short, he said he's "not giving up".

God speed!

Blinds 1,000-2,000 (ante 300)

Anyone following the World Series of Poker Main Event from afar should never underestimate both the mental and physical demands of this event. It's a beast, and it can often feel as though circumstances conspire to deliver crushing blows right when a man is most vulnerable.

Last night, Aditya Agarwal was "peaking, cruising, feeling good" with 15 minutes to play. Then he ended up with K♦J♦ on a king-high, two-diamond board and ended up paying off an opponent's A-K all the way.

His tournament peak became a slump and there wasn't time to get them back. He bagged a stack of 129,000 and said he was a little crestfallen for the first time in the event.

Not only that, but it was a late night at the WSOP owing to yesterday's slightly late start. Agarwal returned to the house he is sharing with friends, ate some food and got some sleep, but had to return to the Rio for today's 11am start. It's a tight turnaround and he said he hasn't had time to research today's table-mates--although he'll only need to look at the 526,300-stack of Joshua Tekesky to know where the danger lies.

Agarwal also of course pondered the big hand he lost ("I could have folded river," he says) but added that his house-mates have provided good support. There are seven of them in the house and four are still in the Main Event. "They were super happy they had 100K," Agarwal says, so it's a matter of perspective.

"You have to get over it," he says. "It's a new day. Forget about it and calm down."

That's the plan as Day 3 begins. Agarwal's new table is as follows and, as ever, we'll stick with him as he tries to build again.

Seat 1. Joshua Tekesky, USA, 526,300
Seat 2. Jyri Merivirta, Finland, 52,600
Seat 3. Benjamin Gold, USA, 346,000
Seat 4. Zi Li, USA, 328,700
Seat 5. Aditya Agarwal, India, 129,000
Seat 6. William Gibbons, USA, 189,900
Seat 7. Frank Goulard, USA, 139,000
Seat 8. William Jennings, USA, 81,600
Seat 9. Paul Mannoni, USA, 90,300

Blinds 800-1,600 (ante 200)

Day 2C of the WSOP Main Event is in the books, and Aditya Agarwal is putting 129,000 chips into his bag.

This last level of the day was tough--the most costly of Agarwal's tournament so far--and he has dipped slightly below average for the first time.

The first hiccup came early in the level, when Agarwal opened to 3,500 with A♠K♠ from under the gun and picked up a call from the player to his left. Then another player three-bet to 13,600 from the big blind and Agarwal just called.

After the flop brought a jack and two fives (and only one spade), Agarwal folded to a bet of 14,000.

That was small compared with what happened just before tournament staff called four more hands for the night. Agarwal lost about 60,000 chips with K♦J♦ in a three-bet pot after a run-out of K-3-7-7-A (two diamonds, keeping him interested all the way). Agarwal check-called flop, turn and river but lost to A-K.

This time last year, Agarwal had 157,000. He's slightly below that, but not significantly. And they'll be coming back to blinds of 1,000/2,000 tomorrow, so still a lot of play.

Blinds 600-1,200 (ante 200)

Aditya Agarwal's Day 2 at the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event is turning out to be the mirror image of his Day 1. His five levels on Monday went (broadly): fast, fast, slow, slow, slow. But today it's been slow, slow, fast, fast, and as yet unknown.

This is a roundabout way of saying that Agarwal enters the last level of the night, Level 10, with about 220,000 chips having profited nicely since dinner.

A new player came to his table just after the repast and opened to 3,100. Agarwal called on he button with K♠J♠ and the player in the small blind, who has been playing a lot of hands, made it 11,800 to go. Agarwal called in position.

The flop came king high, rainbow, and the small blind bet 12,000. Agarwal called and then they both checked the five on the turn. After another check after a six on the river, Agarwal bet 15,800 and got a call/muck.

It hasn't been entirely one-way traffic. Agarwal also detailed losing with pocket sixes on a board of 3-4-5-5-Q. His opponent had pocket eights. Then he lost another small one with A♦7♦ against T♦4♦ when they both flopped a flush draw. Unfortunately for Agarwal, the third diamond didn't hit but a ten and a seven did.

Agarwal has played a lot of smaller pots in the last level, picking up most of them. He still has Steffen Sondtheimer and Minh Ly for company, but has them both still out-chipped.

One level left until they bag for the night. Agarwal has 220,000.

Blinds 500-1,000 (ante 100)

The best approximations of the remaining WSOP Main Event field at the Day 2 dinner break is 2,300. That means that 1,000 players (at least) have been swept away in the first three levels of the day. But Aditya Agarwal is not one of them.

Far from it, in fact. Agarwal bounced back to about 150,000 just before dinner, winning a couple of significant pots to make amends for a slight downturn through Levels 6 & 7.

The biggest pot came when Minh Ly opened to 3,000 from the hijack and, after the player on the button called, Agarwal called too in the big blind. He had 6-4 off-suit, but no matter. That's fine.

Let's upgrade "fine" to fantastic after a flop of A-4-4. All three players checked and then a ten fell on the turn. Agarwal bet 5,000 and only Ly called. The river was a queen and Agarwal bet 18,000.

Ly called and then mucked when he saw the trips.

Other than that, it was a steady level. But we're heading upwards again.

Blinds 300-600 (ante 100)

"Still at hundo," Aditya Argarwal said at the end of Level 7, which was another "pretty dead level". He added, "Haven't gotten any hands, been folding mostly."

One of the things Agarwal has stressed, both this year and last, is that the Main Event is a marathon not a sprint. He seems perfectly unconcerned about an apparent lack of action, and in Adi we trust.

Blinds 300-600 (ante 100)

Aditya Agarwal has endured a difficult start to Day 2 and his stack has dipped to 106,000. "Pretty card dead," he said. "Didn't pick up any big hands and lost two three-bet pots where I three-bet, c-bet and gave up."

But let's put that into perspective. His stack is still 133 big blinds deep going into Level 7, and this time last year he had just hit a high point of 85,000. At time of writing 2017 is still > 2016.


It's Day 2 and we're back.

Our hero, Aditya Agarwal, the Team PokerStars Pro from India, says he is well rested and well nourished ("I slept and ate," he said when asked how he spent his day off) and ready for another long day at the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Agarwal bagged 150,900 at the end of Day 1C. That's pretty much the size of the stack he had amassed after two levels, after winning two huge pots, but says the table got quiet after that and played much more snug for the last three levels.

"I'll take it," Agarwal said in overall assessment.


Aditya Agarwal back for Day 2

Today, he is the second-largest stack at Table 81 in the Amazon Room. Only Gregory Goldberg, two seats to Agarwal's left, has more chips. But this isn't an easy line-up. Steffen Sontheimer, the Super High Roller crusher from Germany, is there (albeit short-stacked) and Minh Ly, the high-stakes cash game player, is in Seat 2.

Agarwal says he has done a bit of research about all of his opponents--every smart player does--and is obviously hoping for a similar run of decent spots today as he had on Monday. But he's taking nothing for granted and has not set any specific targets.

"Not in the Main," he said. "It's such a marathon."

Agarwal's Day 2 table:

Seat 1: Steffen Sontheimer (Germany) - 28,300
Seat 2: Minh Ly (USA) - 64,100
Seat 3: Samay Parikh (USA) - 38,600
Seat 4: Daniel Rodriguez (USA) - 38,400
Seat 5: Paul Chakoian (USA) - 113,700
Seat 6: Douglas Messner (USA) - 52,300
Seat 7: Aditya Agarwal (India) - 150,900
Seat 8: Dien Le Bellevue (USA) - 53,000
Seat 9: Gregory Goldberg (USA) - 163,700

Blinds 250-500 (ante 50)

After yet another relatively uneventful level, Aditya Agarwal finished his Day 1 with 150,900 chips, which will be the top 20 percent of Day 1 survivors. Like the rest of today's players he'll have tomorrow off before returning to play on Wednesday.

Blinds 200-400 (ante 50)

What do you do when you run up a stack of 150,000 in the first couple of levels at the World Series of Poker Main Event and you're playing at a "pretty quiet" table? If you're Aditya Agarwal, you get yourself a postprandial massage and enjoy it.

"Another boring level," Agarwal reports. "Lost 18K in the first 80 minutes, missing a lot of flops and draws. No big pots. Just rebounded winning a few small pots to be break-even."

He'll have to pay the massage therapist now, as they head into the last break of the day. But that seems to be money well spent.

Agarwal is not getting complacent, though, and is refusing to accept that he's yet even definitely locked up passage to Day 2. But there's just one more level in his superlative Day 1C to complete. He has around 140,000 still.

Blinds 150-300 (ante 25)

After those blockbuster opening two levels, things slowed for our hero in the third level of the day. "Haven't played a 5K-plus pot this level," Agarwal says. "Just small pots. Won some, lost some, break-even so far."

That meant Agarwal left about 140,000 chips in front of him when he went to his dinner. He's actually been at the very top of the counts today, so it's still going very well indeed.

The dinner break is 90 minutes long, and his food is going to taste good for Agarwal tonight.

Blinds 150-300

If Aditya Agarwal keeps up the form he's shown in the first couple of levels today, he's going to finish the day among the chip leaders. Don't worry, we're not getting ahead of ourselves, this is just a roundabout way of noting that at the end of Level 2, our Team Pro has around 145,000--a near three-fold increase on his starting stack.

Agarwal is busy getting reads and busy hitting hands. After four hours in the same company, he's been able to assess who's clearly good and who's clearly tight. And he's also managed to prise some chips out of most of them, thanks in the main to another flush.

Picking up J♦T♦ in mid-position, Agarwal opened to 700 and got calls from the hijack and both the blinds. The flop came [tx]6♦4♦ and the small blind led for 1,200. Agarwal, with top pair and the draw, made it 3,000 and the hijack's call persuaded the other out.

The 2♦ came on the river and Agarwal check-called a bet of 5,175. Then Agarwal again checked after the 9♣ river and the hijack bet 8,150. Agarwal raised to 27,000 and got a snap call. Agarwal was good.

It's not all great: William Kassouf has shown up and sat on a neighbouring table, so the volume has gone up. But Agarwal remains composed and already has the chips to bully around a few players new to the Main Event.

Blinds 75-150

Agarwal arrived to Seat 7 Table 169 around ten minutes after the start of play. A quick glance around the table and there were no familiar faces. That was already an improvement on last year, when his starting table featured Jeremy Ausmus and Carter Gill. Our hero was quick to note, however, that one of his opponents was at least talking a good game early on, referencing some big online tournaments. Agarwal also added that it's playing only eight-handed at the moment, "And we'll see who late-regs seat nine."


Aditya Agarwal: Can he make it seven from 13 at the Main Event?

All in all it was a great first level, though, and Agarwal built his starting stack from 50,000 to 70,000 already. The lion's share came in a pot where Agarwal had A-J, with the jack of diamonds. There was a raise to 500, a call and then Agarwal bumped it to 2,000. He got one caller.

The flop was 2-3-4 with two diamonds, followed by the 7♦ and the 9♦. Agarwal bet all the way and got full value from what turned into a jack-high flush.

That has given Agarwal the biggest stack at the table.


Agarwal comes to the Main Event this year in good form, having cashed 10 times from a full series. He arrived to Las Vegas on May 28, ahead of the first event, then played for the first time in the $10,000 Tag Team Championship, alongside his wife Shuchi, Jim Collopy and Chris Dombrowski.

They were close to the chip lead in that event, with 180,000 going into Day 2. Then they bubbled it, to great disappointment.

Agarwal described the rest of the series from there as "not too bad", noting that none of his 10 cashes have been particularly significant. (The full list his here.) His biggest score came when he finished ninth in a $1,500 shootout event, worth slightly more than $30,000.

"I'd rather just win one," Agarwal said, before admitting that he'd still play a full tournament schedule at the World Series even if he had have made a massive score.

His last live tournament prior to Vegas was the PokerStars Championship in Sochi, which was blighted by a bout of food poisoning and required a trip to a Russian hospital. The WSOP has at least been a lot better than that.



At last year's World Series of Poker Main Event, one of the most successful experiments we tried featured the Team PokerStars Pro Aditya Agarwal.

Agarwal was then playing his 11th World Series of Poker Main Event, and had cashed in five of them. We figured it might be good to follow his 12th Main Event challenge level-by-level, listening to his progress every step of the way.

Agarwal duly delivered. Not only was he content to give us a player's eye view of his journey, but he made the money again. He was eventually knocked out on Day 4, in 621st place, winning $18,714. It could, of course, have been more. But it could also have been about $18,714 less.

Naturally, Agarwal is again back at the Rio, having another crack at the Big Dance. He now has six cashes from 12 appearances and will get his average up above .500 if he finishes in the money yet again.

It makes sense too that we have another crack at our level-by-level coverage. So bookmark this page for updates about Agarwal. Here's hoping he can go even further this time.

WSOP photos by