It feels like Amit “amak316” Makhija has been on the poker scene for ages, but in reality, the Wisconsin native is only 25 years old. One of the flagship members of the DoylesRoom Brunson 10, Makhija first came to prominence on the live circuit during the summer of 2008. He made a splash at the televised final table of the WSOP $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em World Championship and followed it up with a runner-up finish at the WPT Legends of Poker event at the Bike.
We caught up with Makhija during this year’s Legends of Poker event to talk about how things have changed since his first WPT final table and get the inside scoop on the inner workings of the prestigious Brunson 10 squad.
It is hard to believe it has been two years since you had your televised WSOP final table and finished second to John Phan in the WPT Legends of Poker Main Event. Is it fair to say you are part of the online poker old guard?
That sounds fair, oddly enough. I guess I’m one of the guys who has been around the live scene a little longer. It’s been way too long since I’ve been to one of [the WPT] final tables though.
It seems like when you play online you’re pretty focused on the cash games. Do you grind MTTs all that often anymore?
I hardly play any MTTs at all anymore. I play mostly cash games. Occasionally I’ll jump into a couple of big Sunday tournaments, but I don’t really enjoy them as much as I used to I guess.
People who follow you on Twitter might know that you put in a fair amount of time at the DoylesRoom cash game tables. How do you decide when it is a good time to put in a cash session?
When I am going to put in a cash game session, it is usually when I know I have some time and when there aren’t bigger games running at Commerce. I decide when I’m going to quit based on my mood and how I’m feeling or how I’m running. I don’t like sitting around playing if I’m stuck. I’ll play pretty quick if I’m losing, but if I’m winning I’ll play some pretty long sessions and just kind of play it by ear.
When you aren’t playing cash games, we’ve heard through the grapevine that you spend quite a bit of time at the gym. Are you a gym addict?
I wouldn’t say I’m an addict. I would say I don’t go enough. I try to go four or five times a week for an hour and a half each time. I don’t have a real job, which means I have a lot of free time on my hands.
Would you say regular trips to the gym and aspiring to live a healthy lifestyle has had a positive effect on your poker?
Yeah, it definitely does. I just feel a lot better when I work out before I play. My mindset is in a much better place. It helps your overall life and improves your quality of life as well.
You may not play a ton of MTTs anymore, but you still travel the tournament circuit a lot. How do you maintain that lifestyle on the road?
I don’t necessarily work out every day. I also don’t know if it is worth it to work out while you’re playing something like a WPT. Like yesterday for example, we played a really long day and I was really tired and it didn’t seem like a good idea to get up two hours early to try and get a workout in.
The Brunson 10 is nearing completion. Liking the way the team is shaping up?
Yeah, it is filling out nicely. Several of us did well in this event, you’ve got me and (David) Doc Sands and only four of us played. It is a good showing for us.
Since the team’s been pieced together over the course of a year, has there been many times when they’ve gotten you all in a room together?
Yeah, there have definitely been a few times. We had a party at Blush this summer and we all hang out a fair amount.
It seems like a lot of you guys were friends before you were teammates. Is that a coincidence or do you have some input into which players are chosen for the squad?
It is somewhat of a coincidence, but they always ask us our opinions on people before they add them. Obviously if they’re our friends and we know they’re good players, we’ll say so. We’re obviously not going to lobby for our friends to be on the team just because they are our friends though. It has worked out that we were already friends and we’ve still found some of the best young players out there.
The Brunson 10 guys seem to just about taken care of, but there are supposedly two spots set aside for female players. Any suggestions on which ladies you would like to see join the team?
I’m not really sure. I honestly can’t even think of that many girls who would fit the role of 25 and under that are good [and unsponsored]. I know Lauren Kling is very good and she is young. She would fit the bill pretty well. I don’t really know what they’re doing with that and who their candidates are honestly since there are so few girls out there who fit the bill and don’t have deals already.
You seem to avoid the drama and intense emotion that sometimes crop up in the game of poker. Have you always been a level-headed guy or is it something that developed with age?
I think it is just part of my personality. I’m pretty laid back and try to take things as they come. It’s not really as stressful for me as it is for some other people. I just try to stay positive and hope things work out.