Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. These days, he makes his living playing poker as he works on his second novel.
My first book, My Friend Sancho, was published in May 2009, and went on to become the biggest selling debut novel released that year in India. It is a contemporary love story set in Mumbai, and had earlier been longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. To learn more about the book, click here.
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Click here for more about my publisher, Hachette India.
My posts on India Uncut about My Friend Sancho can be found here.
I’ve just finished reading The Bridge, David Remnick’s magisterial account of Barack Obama’s rise in American politics. It has a nice little bit on how Obama was once invited, along with other legislators, to a dollar-ante poker game.
Everybody involved in the game says that Obama was a cautious player, folding hand after hand, waiting for his moment to bluff or go big on a good hand. The game was never high-stakes—to win or lose a hundred dollars was a dramatic night. Obama’s caution, hidden behind a cloud of cigarette smoke, could be maddening. One Republican, Bill Brady of Bloomington, told Obama, “You’re a socialist with everybody’s money but your own.”
This leads me to speculate on what kind of poker players other politicians would have made. Bill Clinton, I imagine, would have been like Daniel Negreanu, great at reading people, aggressive, garrulous at the table. Obama, oddly enough, sounds like Doyle Brunson, solid and old-school. Hillary Clinton would be like Phil Hellmuth, also cautious and solid, and capable of losing it when some fool sucked out on her. Among Indians, Manmohan Singh would be like Dan Harrington, careful about starting hands, precise about post-flop calculations, fearless once a decision had been made. (Actually, that’s true of most good players.) Sonia Gandhi, well, she wouldn’t play poker herself, but would stake someone else to do it.
The likes of John McCain, Sarah Palin and Prakash Karat would probably be really bad poker players. McCain would be prone to going on tilt after a bad beat, and Palin and Karat would be delusionally attached to any hands they chose to enter a pot with, regardless of the texture of the flop. Hey, I’d love to play poker with them. I would so take all of Palin’s money!
Earlier: The Beautiful Game of Poker