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WSOP chip leader Manoj Viswanathan breaking some trends

16 July 2011

LAS VEGAS - The storyline is almost expected. Young poker pro learns to play the game online. Then he plays in the World Series of Poker Main Event, rises to the chip lead and wins the tournament -- seemingly out of nowhere. That's what happened with the last three Main Event champions, Jonathan Duhamel (2011), Joe Cada (2010) and Peter Eastgate (2009).

But if WSOP Main Event Day 4 chip leader Manoj Viswanathan (2.115 million) wins this year, he'll break part of this trend.

Viswanathan is young. He's a 26-year-old attorney from New York. He went to MIT for college and NYU for law school. But he didn't learn to play poker online.

If Manoj Viswanathan wins the Main Event this year, he will be the first champion in three years that did not learn how to play the game online.

If Manoj Viswanathan wins the Main Event this year, he will be the first champion in three years that did not learn how to play the game online. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

"I dabbled [at playing online], but I wouldn't really call myself an online player," Viswanathan told Casino City.

"I started playing poker just for fun," Viswanathan said. "I went to MIT. A lot of people that went to MIT played cards. So a good friend of mine, Benny Wang, we played a lot together. And I had some time off between college and law school, so I played a lot then, but it's never taken over a primary role in my life. There's too many other things in the world I like doing. But with that being said, I've just been having a blast out here so far [in the Main Event]."

Viswanathan is sharing his Main Event experience with friends, who helped buy him into the tournament.

"I've always wanted to [play] it," Viswanathan said. "But I could never stomach fronting the money, not because the money itself was an insurmountable amount but just because it seemed like it was a huge waste when the odds were so low.

"So in talking about it with my friends, they said they'd put up half if I put up half, so I said, 'Sure.' That way, it's like a team thing. We're splitting it 50/50 -- a straight split. It's more for the fun than the shared risk aspect. And they're loving it. They're just as excited about it as I am."

Viswanathan's family is also getting behind his efforts to win the Main Event.

"They're supportive," Viswanathan said. "They're the best parents I ever could have asked for."

Viswanathan said that entering his first Main Event, he didn't have any real expectations in terms of what the experience would be like. But there have been a few surprises.

"People are friendlier than I thought they would be," Viswanathan said. "The tables were softer than I thought they would be," he added.

"I thought people would be really good, and there are some excellent people out there, but there have always been a couple of spots at each table -- a couple of passive players and I wasn't expecting that.

"I was expecting everyone in this day and age to know how to play really well. And not for a second would I say I'm an excellent player, but I've found I've been able to hold my own."

Viswanathan also says that while he's happy to cash, he's going for the bracelet now.

"At this point, I'm not trying to lock up any additional money by playing it safe. I want to win. I wanted to cash; after that it's all cream. I'm playing to win."
WSOP chip leader Manoj Viswanathan breaking some trends is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.