Pratyush Buddiga: Big Buy-Ins Don't Always Mean Tough Tourneys

Pratyush Buddiga
Pratyush Buddiga says people put too much importance on buy-in when judging field strength.

Traditional poker wisdom says to choose tournaments with a buy-in your bankroll can handle, but according to Pratyush Buddiga you're better off looking at field strength.

Case in point? Buddiga played the $128,000 buy-in GuangDong Asia Millions not because he was bankrolled for it, but because he saw a relatively weak field.

“The GuangDong was just a special tournament in that it was a very soft tournament,” Buddiga recalled.

“I don’t plan to play many $100ks, that was a special occasion. You have to assess based on field strength.”

Buddiga's approach paid off in that event with an 8th-place finish worth $774,193.

Buddiga, a former Scripps National Spelling Bee champion, is in Las Vegas right now hunting his first WSOP gold bracelet and even though he can assess a tough tournament, that doesn't mean he's shying away from them.

When he spoke to in Las Vegas he was playing the $3,000 Shootout, an event overflowing with tough poker pros.

“I think people view tournaments too much by the buy-in in terms of looking at the field strength,” Buddiga said, “This $3k, for example, is probably tougher than a lot of the $5k and $10k that will be running the rest of the summer.”

Spelling Bee Championship Was Buddiga's “First Real Event”

Pratyush Buddiga learned about pressure at a young age. At 13 he found himself front and center at the 2002 Scripps National Spelling Bee, just one word from the title.

Pratyush Buddiga
Buddiga won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2002.

Buddiga spelled out “prospicience” and was crowned champion in front a live audience and countless watching on ESPN. It was his first taste of glory but Buddiga doesn’t intend for it to be his last.

“That was my first real event,” Buddiga recalled, “It’s gone from spelling to poker.”

Buddiga has been a regular on the worldwide live poker circuit but still finds himself asked questions about the Scripps title he won more than a decade ago. He'd rather leave spelling in the past and focus on his poker career.

Buddiga picked up his first WSOP cash of 2014 with a 13th place finish in the $3,000 NLH Six-Handed event. He began the day sitting 3rd out of 15 but ran into early troubles to produce his early exit.

“I lost a medium sized pot early then a huge pot with ten-eight on a ten-nine board,” Buddiga said.

“He had King-Jack and obviously hit the Queen and I was down to 20 bigs. But I wouldn’t change anything about the hands I played.”

“What can you do?” Buddiga continued, “I’ll have to get him next time.”

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