In the world of chess, he’s popular as a ‘poker-faced’ player. Now, five-time world chess titleholder Viswanathan Anand has taken his name a step further, by taking on the helm of Poker Sports League as brand ambassador, which is a popular poker league in India.
The patrons of the Poker Sports League (PSL) call it their ‘biggest move ever,’ towards reversing the negative understanding of the game in the country. Although he doesn’t play the game, Anand, who addresses poker as “chess with a deck of cards,” declares he wants to master the game as many of his associates in the chess circuit play Texas Hold ‘Em. “In chess, I am named the poker-faced player, so maybe it’s about time that I learn to play the game,” said Anand, commenting on his new endeavor as the brand ambassador for the 2017 edition of Poker Sports League.
“I have been following poker closely for some time now. It is a game of skill, and that’s reasonably why chess players shift to poker. It’s got me fascinated,” said Anand, who now intends to master the sport as he is still, in chess language, an “unrated amateur” in poker.
“What I have witnessed though is that poker and chess have some similarities in the thinking process and being a chess player may change your poker playing style,” quoted Anand.
The purpose of Poker Sports League is to market poker as a mind game in the country, and that was essentially one of the goals for contracting Anand on, say the league founders. According to PSL co-founder Amit Burman, “Chess and poker are often analyzed as both games are based on strategic reasoning and decision making skills. Both the games also involve examining the opponent at the table.” This year, 12 teams from across the country are contending for top honors at the PSL, supposedly India’s first professional poker league.