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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Interviews

The Round Table – Get to Know - Amit ‘amak316’ Makhija

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Amit Makhija, known online as amak316, has a WPT final table, a WSOP final table and an FTOPS win for over $500,000. His tournament cashes exceed four million dollars and he has achieved this in just a few short years.

KL: How important do you think respect is in poker?
I don't think respect is that important as long as you have a good idea of which players respect your play and which players think you never have it. It’s important to always understand how others perceive you at the table, and it’s also important to know what they think you're capable of, so you can use that information to decide whether to value bet thin, bluff, or
KL: What makes you respect another player?
I gain a lot of respect for other players when I see them make outside of the box plays from time to time, all the while hand reading very well and using their image well to exploit certain players. I also respect people that have the ability to play crazy, but also know when to switch gears and play patiently for hours at a time.
KL: What do you think your greatest strength is in the game and is this a natural ability or something you have learned?
I think my greatest strength is that I try to be very honest with myself and I try not to let my ego get in the way of my decision making. Before I sit in any game I ask myself "where’s my edge" and if I have no answer to that question I simply don't sit down. I'm also very good at keeping an even temperament, and not letting my emotions affect my play, thus bringing my “A” game a higher % of the time than most.
KL: Do you think poker is a game anyone can learn and play well or do you think it is a natural talent game?
I think there’s certain natural instincts that can separate a very good player from a great player, that being said I think anyone that is intelligent can become a very, very good poker player if they are open minded and willing to learn. It is a lot of hard work though, and you have to be very honest with yourself and constantly learning from people that are more successful.
KL: How do you differentiate poker from being a hobby to it being a career? What steps do you take to monitor this?
To me a professional poker player is someone that takes poker very seriously and makes every poker decision from an expected value standpoint. A professional is always trying to plug leaks, make the best decisions, plays with a protected bankroll, and sits in the games that are the most profitable for them. There are many, many, many people in this industry that consider themselves “professionals” that have leaks in one or all of these areas, and they find themselves broke more often than not. I try to remind myself every time I sit down to be a professional.
KL: What kind of goals do you set for yourself in poker?
I'm not a firm believer in results related goals, however winning a bracelet and a WPT title would really mean a lot to me. My primary goal in poker is to never stop getting better, because in this game if you're not getting better, you're falling behind. The poker world is very cutthroat and I would like to stay ahead of the curve as long as I'm playing professionally.
KL: What is a big mistake you often see people making at the table?
A big mistake most people make in a live setting is lack of patience. People try to play any hand from any position, and they play them very passively. A lot of people would be a lot better off if they tightened up before the flop, and played a lower percentage of hands more aggressively. Another big leak that people often make is not thinking about what kind of hand they are representing when they bluff. Every time you decide to bluff in no limit hold'em you have to represent a credible hand. When playing against a good player you have to carefully think about what you have done on each street and if your line is credibly representing a strong hand.
KL: Which do you like better, cash or tournaments?
I play a lot of both and this question is very hard to answer for me. Cash games are pretty awesome in that they are a consistent form of income, they require very deep levels of thought, and are usually very intellectually stimulating. In cash games you can create interesting table dynamics that allow you to make razor thin value bets or gigantic bluffs.
Tournaments are like a drug. There is no greater feeling in poker than winning a big tournament, but tournaments are the definition of gambling. The variance in tournament poker is sky high, and there is little room for nonstandard lines, whenever you win a tournament all you want to do is accomplish more and win a bigger one. The highs in tournament poker are amazing, and the lows are super depressing, they can make you feel like a genius or like a huge fish, and there’s really no in between.
I like both forms a lot, luckily you can play both and you don't have to chose =).
KL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
My answers for both time frames are the same. I don't see myself being a full time poker professional for more than a couple years longer, but I also never plan on completely leaving the scene. I am planning on starting a business eventually, and hopefully starting a family. The poker world is great and I couldn't love the game more, but traveling the circuit would make it very hard to live a normal life. I would like to be like a Dan Harrington, a well respected player in any major tournament or big cash game that I decide to sit at, and also a successful entrepreneur.
KL: Do you feel you are at an advantage at the table being a young online pro?
I think being a young online pro is definitely an advantage. Any time you sit down at a live poker table and your appearance is part of a stereotype you're at an instant advantage because you know your own image. I know that when I sit down at the table everyone who has never played with me before just will assume I play like a psycho (they all think you are gonna try to be durrrrr or something). This is helpful as I know I can expect to get paid off on a lot of big hands early and make thin value bets because people always assume I am bluffing.
The same goes for older people playing poker. If you sit down and have a head of white hair you can just 3 barrel bluff everyone for the first two hours and expect to make a lot of money. Stereotypes in poker are generally incredibly accurate, and people often over rely on them until they have reason to believe otherwise, it’s important to take advantage of this image.

Like a wheel, the Round Table is a circle of adventures and victories, beats and stories, and life as it unfolds with a cast of characters that may, or may not, have joined you in your home on a local TV program. There's so much more to poker than what you see on TV. Although I won't use canvas, I will paint the full picture for you as I follow the lives of some of your favorite (and some unknown) players. The Round Table is an ongoing series of life, viewed full circle.

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