Delhi girl breaks stereotypes after becoming India’s first female professional poker player

first_imgMuskan Sethi from Delhi, who is not only a professional poker player but also a social worker, is breaking more than just one stereotype.27-year-old Muskan is helping change the way the game is looked at in India, the way the world looks at India and women players and has been using her prize money for various social causes.A Modern Barakhamba pass out, Muskan grew up watching poker on TV, thanks to her dad. “As a kid, instead of watching cartoon, I had to watch poker and I hated it,” a smiling Muskan, who wanted to become a tennis player, told in an exclusive chat.”When I turned 20, I started playing it on Facebook for fun. It was then that I realised that I was good at it and started enjoying it,” said the excited Muskan who cleaned the whole table out the first time she played with her friends who knew the game. “Everytime I sat to play, I would clean the table out. So I decided to take it up seriously and started entering tournaments online.” It was then that she came across a tournament by PokerStars that said ‘Do you have it in you to be among the Top 20 poker players in the world?’ The enthusiastic Delhi girl thereon found herself challenging professional International players, giving auditions, phone interviews and becoming the top fourth online player among 700 thousand players to win an all expense paid ticket to Barcelona for the championship in 2014.The girl who idolises Phil Ivey not only played against some of the best poker players in the world but also gave them a tough time. “There was a rule in the challenge that if you can bluff them, you can cage them. It was like living a dream. They introduced me as the Indian girl fighting for one million dollars.”advertisement ‘NO PROFESSION WHERE WOMEN CAN’T DOMINATE’Coming from a typical Punjabi family where not many women work, Muskan holds liberal views. “I feel no one should be dependent. There is no profession where women can’t dominate,” she said.When asked if she ever faced discrimination on the basis of her sex, considering the game has been majorly male-dominated so far, she responded, “I did get it initially. Usually the poker community treats me like a guy because the poker face is a man’s face, an anoymous face. But when they find out that I am a girl, they tell me ‘Go back to the kitchen.'”In a society where women are still, during Diwali and other social gatherings, told to go play cards separately or not play at all, Muskan has set a strong example. “Times have been changing. I am still experiencing the change. Earlier they would not be too keen to have me play with them. But now they know how good I am at the game and enjoy playing with me.”‘I DIDN’T CHOOSE POKER, IT CHOSE ME'”Poker can be compared to stock market and chess. It is a dreamer’s sport. I could have chosen anything but Poker chose me,” said Muskan, who added that no one taught her to play poker and that the game is a balance of luck as well as skill. Muskan Sethi with Liv Boeree, no. 1 ranked female poker player in 2015″People are very welcoming abroad, unlike India. But having said that, the game is fast growing in the country as more number of sites have been coming up on a daily basis to promote it,” said Muskan, who has been playing professional poker for the last 5 years and has taken part in World series of Poker, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour as the first Indian female professional player.The game has taken her to Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Nottingham, Barcelona, Prague among other cities in the world so far.PROMOTING SOCIAL CAUSESMuskan, started playing poker online to take her mind off her mother’s untimely death. She also donates money she wins at various competitions to Muskan NGO, started by her mother after her name.Dog-lover Muskan has also started an Iphone app ‘Doggydoo’ that helps dog-owners come together to address various pet related issues. She also supports other small NGOs from time-to-time.last_img read more