And they said women can’t play poker…
Pocket52 hosted a No Limit Hold’em poker tournament for the management students of IIM Kozhikode. We were honoured to interview the only female contestant who was ITM (Into The Money).

Ms. Shaifali is a Management student at IIM Kozhikode and is a brilliant poker player. Let’s see what she had to say about the event and poker as a game in general.

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Interview with Shaifali IIM Kozhikode with

Debashish: So Shaifali what made you participate in the Pocket52 NLHE Tournament in your campus(IIM Kozhikode).

Shaifali: I started playing poker game merely because it is one of my electives. But after playing a few games and learning it in the class I enjoyed the game a lot. I understood that winning here is no chance or luck. When we’d just begun to play poker I noticed people make instinctive decisions for a call or a raise. However, I usually take my time to see what my pot odds are and what is my probability of winning. How my probability has changed after the flop opens. And hence played my game by understanding the skills involved in it. The involvement of numbers is my major drive. And yesterday I was at the tournament to see how much have I honed my skills. Being able to use my love for the game and the other areas of intelligence that surface to make the game feel even better.

Debashish: Do you consider poker a game or a sport?

Shaifali: I think poker has multiple personalities in different parts of the world. What is understood of it in India inclines towards the meaning of a game which is, a bunch of people competing with each other for recreation? However, it has become a sport internationally. out there people have realised the need to sharpen the skill of math, and logical thinking and more to be good at poker. Precisely the definition of a sport.

Debashish: If you ever decide to go pro in poker, what rationale would you give to the people who would expect you to stay mainstream?

Shaifali: If I ever realise my attitude and aptitude for going pro in the game I would first go for it with all my might. And to all of the people who like their comfort zone, I’d say that a profession is a profession. Also, Indian society is still struggling to understand the nuances and the nature of the game of poker, whereas internationally it has a sound reputation. Changes are gradual and it is evidently catching up in India too. It takes a lot of my brain energy to win something in poker. Poker is a sport to me, just like hockey or cricket.

Shaifali Grinding The Finals Of the Pocket52 NLHE Tournament

Debashish: Considering your brilliance at the game, do you plan to go ahead and be a master or will it stay a hobby forever?

Shaifali: I am still exploring my bond with the game. I certainly place the game above a hobby. I Play the game very seriously. In the near future even after assuming my position with my future employers, I will keep playing the game and if someday I reach the realisation that poker is my calling I will take it up, period.

Debashish: You have a course here IIM and it was introduced by the professor as ‘Competitive Strategy Of Poker’ to make a point. To instil strategical thinking and understanding risk management. How do you think will the game do any good for the young people, if exposed to the game/sport?

Shaifali: I believe the game should be introduced at an early stage just like monopoly. Mostly without real currency for the younger ones but surely it should be. Girls or boys, the truth is no one can tell another person what to do unless in some cases the paths are tried and tested by the people we have faith in.

Everyone can and should make their choices on their own. Calculate their risks and profits and be their own persons.
Debashish: How was your experience playing your final action at pocket52?

Shaifali: I loved the interface. It was quite soothing. Apart from the few things which you mentioned are still being constructed I think I really enjoyed the smoothness.

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