Online poker tournaments in India

It was a huge day for Prashant Sekar who won Rs 33 lakh playing among India’s largest poker tournaments held by PokerBaazi.

Sekar, a business management graduate from IIM (Tiruchirappalli) had a fantastic job with Amazon India, but stopped to pursue his enthusiasm to the sport. He’s presently employed as a product manager in an internet gaming company and performs poker to make a considerable income.

The Game Changer championship which took place between February 20 and 24 viewed as numerous as 3,777 entrances. Speaking to Moneycontrol, Navkiran Singh, founder and CEO of PokerBaazi explained they anticipated around 2,000 admissions. But they received an overwhelming response and anticipates”to see bigger numbers going forward since this was the first ever Rs 2 crore GTD (guaranteed amount) tournament”.

The poker site also organises a Rs 1 crore guaranteed number championship named Moneymaker that’s held once every 3 months.

Such tournaments only affirm that the internet poker sector is increasing in India, which according to reports racks in an estimated Rs 700 crore.

Along with PokerBaazi, platforms such as Spartan Poker and Adda52 are important companies seeking to combine the distance. This past Year, creator of Viaan Industries Raj Kundra ventured into the poker world using PokerRaj.

According to specialists, new players in the online poker sector will see development, as the electronic gaming marketplace is flourishing in India. Giants such as Alibaba-backed Paytm, Tencent and Nazara are betting big on the Business.

Even though Tencent has plans to put money into the Indian gambling business, Chinese gambling and entertainment firm AGTech Holdings, a subsidiary of Alibaba at a joint venture with Paytm established Gamepind in January this past year.

Shanghai-based YooZoo Games (formerly Youzu Interactive) established Poker Champions, a societal casino merchandise targeting the Indian gambling market in January 2018.

Based on reports, Nazara Technologies, a mobile game publishing company has plans to spend $20 million to produce e-sports during the following five years in India.

The sport of poker has gained a lot of popularity in the past with the likes of Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand and boxer Vijender Singh promoting the sport,” explained Navkiran.

Vijender Singh has been the newest ambassador for PokerBaazi because January 2018. While, Anand has been signed by Poker Sports League (PSL) as a new ambassador.

Talking about online gambling, Sekar clarified,”[online gaming] offers the flexibility and financial freedom of making a steady and sustainable income from the comfort of your home provided you are disciplined, continue working hard and honing your skills.”

He drew parallels between the game of poker and also investing in the stock exchange. When I started out recreationally, it attracted me. The actual game changer for me was when I started working on my skills,” he pointed out.

When asked when the amount of poker tournaments have been organised from India were sufficient, Sekar stated,”Internationally, there are many such big events and series that happen like the World Series of Poker (once annually), European Poker Tour, Asia Pacific Poker tour (two-three times a year).”

“The prestige associated with winning one of these events is huge. These events are good for the entire gaming ecosystem and bring in a competitive spirit. It’s good for the gaming ecosystem as it builds awareness for the mind sport and achieves the objective of sportifying the game along with life changing moments for few,” he added.

Sekar anticipates more such occasions. “The game is a sport as well as a means of income for many. In this regard, more such branded events is definitely the way forward and will help in reaching this sport reach a critical mass,” he said.

On the flip side, Navkiran is convinced the online gaming sector will flourish in India in the next several years.

“As more and more people get introduced to the game and realise the skills involved in it, we strongly believe that day is not far when poker will be considered a sport in India as the west recognises it,” he reasoned.

Best poker players in India

Many gamers have made a exceptional individuality to become professionals in this game. Take such as Aditya Agarwal. He’s been playing poker for almost 12 decades and his career earnings have been pegged at $4 million.

How about playing a game of winning and poker lakhs of rupees?

Nonetheless, it’s more than enthusiasm for 24-year-old Jai Saha who won Rs 76 lakh from the European Poker Tournament held in Barcelona, lately.

Saha, who finished seventh in the case, paid Rs 3,300 to input the qualifier to the internet championship via PokerStars.

Like Saha, there are lots of players that have made a exceptional individuality to become professionals in this game. Take such as Aditya Agarwal. He’s been playing poker for almost 12 decades and his career earnings have been pegged at $4 million (Rs 28 crore approximately).

“Aditya picked up the match when he was studying engineering in the US. He had been mathematically apt and may pick up the match quite well and played with large occasions,” added Dewani.

Rao, who hails form a mid-income family, has won close to Rs 3 crore in his three-year career.

Like most sports, poker is dominated by men with a mere 10 percent women participation. However, as popularity of the sport grows across India, many more women are making their presence felt in this space.

Muskan Sethi is India’s first sponsored female poker player and was recently honoured by the President of India. She is also India ambassador for responsible gaming.

So, when asked who all are playing poker, Dewani’s answer would be it is “diversified contest” and supports his thoughts with an example.

“When we played in the Global Poker League this past year, two of those 50-60 individuals who made it into the shortlist were a mother-son duo. The mom, Sarita is a Math teacher and her son only enjoys poker”

Even as poker is becoming a preferred game in India, there are numerous challenges faced by the players. Firstly, the legality is a cause of concer. While some Indian states have legalised poker, it is not legal in quite a few states.

If you end up playing poker in Assam or Odisha, you will be penalised.

In Gujarat and Telangana, poker is described as a game of chance hence, winnings cannot be deposited in bank accounts.

In addition, the money attracts TDS and it could be as high as 30.3 percent if a player wins over Rs 10,000.

“There are statistical evidence from several reputed economists and practitioners about poker becoming a sport of skill. The Calcutta and Karnataka high courts also have accepted poker along with the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2016 also recognises it as a sport of skill,” said Jay Sayta, the founder of GLaws.in, a website in India monitoring law developments on gambling.

“However, the Gujarat High Court at 2016 has stated it is a game of chance and that choice is pending under appeal before a division bench of the identical court. Some nations like Telangana, Assam and also Odisha prohibit all sorts of games of skill and therefore online poker isn’t permitted in these countries,” he added. 

While uncertainty remains due to legal issues, the online poker market is growing in India and is reportedly estimated at Rs 700 crore.

According to Dewani,”Poker as a market share from the whole real money gaming area is most likely at roughly 15-20 percent. It’s considerably bigger in other markets that are established so we find it rising to 30-35 percent”