New Delhi-based Pratibha Arya has made quite a name for herself in recent years, emerging as a top poker player on the international stage. We reached out to her to learn more about her journey thus far.
Q. What’s your first-ever memory of engaging in a game of poker?
A. “A friend asked me to make an account on this website called fulltilt.com and play on microstakes there to practice, and so I did. I remember playing US$5 buy-in games on fulltilt as one of the first games I ever played.”
Q. What was your relationship with math as a subject in school?
A. “I was always a merit student throughout my years at both school and college. Math was my favourite subject, to be honest, mostly because you could score full marks in it. I also got CBSE certificates for scoring 99 in both my 10th and 12th board exams, and later in college, math was an integral part of my curriculum for my master’s degree in computer sciences.”
Q. At what point did you decide to go pro at poker?
A. “It was in my final year of college, sometime around my final semester. I had been playing fairly regularly during that year and was doing quite well, so therefore I decided to play professionally when I was fully focused and immersed in the game. It was a natural transition; I didn’t have to choose between anything.”
Q. What was the reaction of your friends and family when you told them of your decision to leave your job for professional poker? How’d they take it?
A. “My parents have always had faith in us, their children, and our abilities to choose right for ourselves. So, they always trusted and supported each of our decisions throughout our lives. For poker, they were of course a little apprehensive initially, but they came round seeing my results and my accomplishments by the time.”
Q. What other activities would you say define Pratibha Arya as a person?
A. “I used to do a bunch of things until two years ago— I used to participate in several competitive coding competitions. I have been an intermediary level street jazz dancer at Ashley Lobo’s academy. I was also quite regular with my yoga practice every morning. I’ve become a little more relaxed since lockdown. These days I’m just reading and learning a new song on my guitar when I’m not playing [poker].”
Q. Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
A. “I frankly don’t think so far ahead. I make short-term goals for myself. My profession does not allow me to have long-term goals.”
Q. What’s your take on the current poker scene in India and the general public’s view on poker as a professional option?
A. “It’s growing rapidly, for sure. I can vouch for that because as a regular at the tables, I have seen a sudden influx of new players, especially after lockdown, and with increasing guarantees and new avenues opening up with the current technologies, more people have started taking it up as a profession. There’s still a stigma attached to the game as it’s a game played with cards, but that’s also slowly fading away with the kind of revenue that’s currently been flowing back in taxes to the government.”
Q. What would you say to an up-and-coming poker player to help them tackle the lack of support and make it big in the game?
A. “If you are passionate about the game and winning, you don’t need support. Only thing one should focus on is getting better with the game. When that happens, you’ll eventually win, and when you’re winning, all the support of family and friends comes back around. No parents or friends will discourage you when you’re winning and accomplishing great feats.”
Q. Do you ever see yourself as a trailblazer for the young women of this country in your capacity as an athlete in an unconventional sport?
A. “I believe in winning consistently, and that’s what I’ve always focused on doing. If along the way I end up inspiring anyone then sure, why not? Having said that, if any of you women out there are serious about the game and need any kind of information, you can contact me directly through any of the following –Instagram- aryapratibha