First-Hand Hands: Brown Balla vs. Alex – Poker at the Lodge

Craig Tapscott
Published by:
Posted on: January 26, 2024 1:47 pm EST

Eshaan ‘Brown Balla’ Bhalla is a regular on numerous popular high-stakes cash game streams, including Hustler Casino Live, Bally Live Poker, and Poker at the Lodge. He’s known for his fearless aggression, infectious laugh, and trickster style.

This hand played out at the Lodge Card Club in Round Rock, Texas, co-owned by Doug Polk, Andrew Neeme, and Brad Owen. All stream long, there had been lots of wild action in the $50/$100/$200 cash game. Texas poker plays a little differently, and this game was no exception. 

Eshaan was sitting UTG with $177,750, and to his direct left, Alex had a stack of $140,100. The hand gets crazy and as Eshaan himself says, ends with “such a gangster play!”

In the video below, Eshaan talks through the hand moment-to-moment, providing exclusive insight into the thought process of a high-stakes cash game regular.

Balla’s beginnings

Eshaan began playing poker with friends and colleagues at work, before working his way up to the high-stakes games. 

“I used to work for LYFT as a software engineer, and I started playing at the office with my coworkers. I started to win $1,000 now and then, and I thought I was the greatest player on the planet. Then, I lost $10,000 and thought I was not the greatest. [Laughs]

“I knew I had to study the game if I wanted to win. I read some posts on Reddit and then joined the Run it Once training site and watched videos. They had an app that needed rebuilding to be more efficient. They agreed. I did the work, and I received a lifetime membership. That’s when I began to improve quickly and apply deeper theory and concepts to my game.”

Eshaan Bhalla WSOP
Eshaan Bhalla at the 2023 WSOP, where he finished third in the $3k NLH 6-Handed event

Tilt happens

If you’ve ever wondered if the calm, cool, and affable Eshaan is capable of full on monkey tilt during a game, the answer used to be a solid – hell yeah! He confessed it was a real issue as he moved up the stakes.

“I used to have huge tilt problems; I would just punt it off to everyone. I was nowhere near as controlled as I am now. I don’t think anyone ever starts out being able to handle the huge swings well.

“But when it started to happen too often, I asked myself – what can I learn from this? When this happens, I go off the deep end. Why? Those type of questions helped me figure out the root causes of the issues so I could reflect and have more control over myself in the future. I understand myself better now. 

“That’s kind of what life is about, at least for me. I like seeing the small things that I can do better in life. So, in that respect, I’ve learned a lot from playing poker about how it relates to my life issues and vice versa.”