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With a perfect blend of youth and experience, Gujarat Acers look to conquer inaugural Poker Sports League

439   //    24 May 2017, 11:18 IST
Gujarat Acers are all set to take the Poker Sports League by storm

With a perfect blend of youth and experience, Gujarat Acers enter the inaugural Poker Sports League in Goa full of confidence. Boasting of several national representatives such as captain Sumit Asrani, the Ahmedabad-based outfit is looking to create a stir with a relatively young squad, which has an average age of just 26.

However, the team doesn't lack in experience. Raman Gujral, plying his trade since 2003, has often been called the father of poker in India. Having boot camped for a week in Mumbai ahead of the event, the team is all prepped up for arguably its biggest tournament yet.

Let's have a quick glimpse at the members looking to make India's most western state the No. 1 poker team in India. 

Sumit Asrani

Asrani, captain of Gujarat Acers, is one of India’s most successful poker players

Sumit Asrani recently joined, an Essel group enterprise, as their Brand Ambassador and Team Pro. He has been playing Poker for the last 7-8 years and professionally for the last four years. He has featured in tournaments all over the country, majorly in Mumbai.

Also read: Poker Sports League: How poker helped rebuild Gujarat Acers Captain Sumit Asrani's life 

In 2012, he finished in 1st place in the APT (Asian Poker Tour) 15k 6max and received close to INR 2,00,000. He also finished in 1st place and got close to INR 1,20,000 in the Aces Unlimited 5k buy-in. Not content with just that, Asrani finished 1st  in the IPL (Indian Poker Legend) 100k main event and won around INR 12,00,000.

In 2015, he finished in 1st place in the IPC (Indian Poker Championship) 30k main event, in which 212 people took part. It was the first time that it was held in India. 

In June 2016, he travelled to Las Vegas for a month to take part in the World Series of Poker. He played quite a few events including the $10,000 Main Event and $10,000 6 max Texas Hold’em event. He made quite a few deep runs and finished in the money in a couple of them.


Abhinav Iyer

Abhinav Iyer

Iyer started playing poker during his undergrad in Chennai. He picked up the game while studying with micro cash games and then gradually moved towards playing mid-stakes cash games in the city.

After completing his graduation, he moved to Australia to pursue his Masters in Sports Management. Deciding not to pick up a part-time job, Iyer focussed on playing poker on the side along with his university. He grinded cash games ranging from $1-$3 ($300 max), $2-$5($500 max) $5-$5 ($1000 max) games and occasionally the $5-$10-$20 ($2000 max).

Iyer soon moved on to Hold'em games at the Crown casino in Melbourne and in the last 15 months, earned over $51000 in cashes on PokerStars, and above $10k in live tournament cashes alongside the cash games. Iyer is now back in India and aiming for bigger things in Poker this year.

Mayank Jain

Mayank primarily features in cash play tournaments

Mayank began playing poker for a living after quitting his job a year and a half ago. Starting at the lowest stakes of 6-max NLHE, he gradually ground his way up. Jain has learnt his trade by reading books, watching YouTube videos and reviewing his hand histories and discussing spots with fellow players.

Mayank primarily features in cash play tournaments, multi-tabling at 25/50 on Indian sites and sometimes good value tournaments as well. In live poker, his latest result was in the 35k Main Event at DPT, Goa on 22nd April 2017, where he cashed out at 26th (30 paid out of 294).

Mayank’s poker goals for this year are to move up a stake (or two), improve his overall tournament game and spend more time studying and hiring a coach.

Anish Juwarkar 

Juwarkar prefers MTTs over cash play

Anish started playing poker in 2009 when he was just 21. Most of his itm finishes were in live tournaments and in 2012, he chose to pursue a post-graduation over the opportunity to take up poker full time.

After a short corporate stint, he returned to Goa as one of the founders of a business consulting organisation. Despite a hectic workload, Anish makes time for poker who prefers MTTs over cash.

Ramesh Rao Thotapalli

Ramesh has plenty of experience in domestic and international circuits

A post graduate with over six years of experience in the transportation and technology sectors, Ramesh Rao was a topper in school and was also involved in multi-cultural and sports activities. He did his masters in management from MIT College of Management, Pune, in Retail Operations and Marketing.

Rao has been playing poker for the last five years with very decent scores in the live events as well as online. He also has experience in the domestic and international circuits including Macau with multiple first and second place finishes.

Wild card - Henrik

Henrik was recently inducted into the Norwegian Poker Hall of Fame

Henrik started playing poker after turning 18 in 2005, and turned pro in 2008. He got his first big live score in 2009 by winning the main event in the Norwegian Championship, and followed it up with a final table in WSOP the following year.

He moved to Macau in 2012 and has since won several big live tournaments in Asia, including two APT main events and an APPT high roller event. Henrik recently got inducted into the Norwegian Poker Hall of Fame in 2017 after being named the Player of the Year in Norway for 2016.

He is currently an ambassador for and has total live tournament winnings of more than $1 million. 

Manesh Rathod

Rathod has extracted quite a decent profit till date


Manesh started playing poker a couple of years ago whilst studying at IITM. Initially playing amongst friends, Manesh then started an online campaign at adda52. Manesh began with smaller stakes at cash tables, and later moved to playing tournaments at higher cash tables.

Having extracted quite a decent profit till date, he is equally comfortable playing MTTS as well as the cash games.

Bhavesh Nainani

Bhavesh began playing poker at the age of 15


Bhavesh began playing poker at the age of 15. The poker grind began for him when he heard that people were exchanging play money chips for real money on Facebook’s Zynga Poker. Bhavesh made over INR 1,50,000 by winning on Zynga and selling play money chips to people.

As a kid, he enjoyed playing chess and solving logical reasoning/mathematical puzzles, the skills needed for poker, According to Bhavesh, he learned discipline, patience and post-game analysis from chess and mathematical aptitude from puzzle solving.

Bhavesh has two post-graduate degrees, one in investment and financial analysis from Gujarat University and an MBA in Marketing from NMIMS, Mumbai. He started playing online for real money in 2012 and has over $200,000 in cashes.

To improve his gameplay, he read over two dozen books on poker over the last two years.

Bhavesh, who is looking forward to playing with the best in the business this PSL, feels positive regarding his own game.

Raman Gujral

Gujral is one of India’s most experienced campaigners

Raman Gujral has played poker for a living from the time when only a handful of people in India knew how to play the game. Born and raised in Chandigarh, he moved to the US to study Mathematics. 

He worked as a day trader for a while before circumstances moved him to Vegas where he continued trading with his mentor while learning poker from various professionals. In 2003, he made his first real money deposit on partypoker and started his journey as an SNG player.  

Over the next seven years, he played everything that the online poker sites had to offer – 6-max, HU, 9-max SNGs, MTTs, Cashgames and much more.  
In 2010, he moved to Goa and dominated the cash game circuit for the next three years during which he also coached and mentored several upcoming players – most of whom made a mark of their own on the Indian poker scene.  

He has several final table finishes and a few wins and runner-ups under his belt. For the last couple of years, he has pursued other personal and business interests, only to appear occasionally on the poker circuit.