Though poker remains a debatable topic if it’s a game of luck or if is it a game of skill but currently it is witnessing an uprise in India, despite all that fuss. Even the corporates are promoting it as a game that uses the tenets of psychology, game theory and mathematics to tide over the stigma of it being widely seen as nothing but another form of gambling.
As times are changing, Mind game Poker is now a course at MIT, University of Berkely, Harvard and even in the IIMs in India. No wonder corporates are so happy to sponsor poker leagues, and studio that developing new poker games or domains. If the industry experts are to be believed, then the number of poker players could rise three times more than the current 2 million players in India in the next three years.
For instance, the Poker Sports League is in its second season, and more formats of the game and platforms are coming into existence every other day either on linear or digital channels. It is all happening at the same time, the uprising of poker in India has even got the law commission of the country examining whether betting on sports and gambling in casinos and other places can be made legal.
In the words of Pranav Bagai, founder of India Poker Legend, “We look at poker as a mind game. There are certain taboos attached to the sport, but that mindset is changing. Interestingly, it is also being taught as a course in MIT, University of Berkely, Harvard and even IIMs in India.”
The corporate participation in the game made Poker Sports League received a commitment of INR 150 crore spread over the upcoming eight years and even 12 franchises starting from the second season. Each team will see the registration of both amateurs and professional players.
The winning amount for this year’s league stands at INR 3.6 crore, with the online and live qualifiers starting from December and then leading to the final selection of the team in April. In May, the grand finale will be held in Goa, said Bagai. He further added that discussions are ongoing with leading broadcasters to air the league on television across the country.
Then comes the story of International Federation of Poker and the Raj Kundra-promoted, Match Poker League. Poker Match League is different from the other poker leagues as the game is played on the digital platform and not like other poker games that are played in casinos. However, the founder of Viaan Industries, Kundra said, “The format at Match India Poker League is unlike any other event or league in the world. This format is the sports poker called Match Poker, which is an app, where only registered players play for points and position and not money or stakes.”
There are over 2-million registered players of poker in India alone, and even that number is increasing at an alarming rate. “The players who register for the Match Poker app has to pay a nominal amount of INR 1,500 as a yearly membership charge. The players have to be registered on the app, to play in the league. Teams have been sold to different team owners who are prominent personalities from business or entertainment industries,” further added Kundra. The fee for the first year is INR 1 crore and the ownership period is of ten years.
It is believed that if this same excitement continues, India will see a revolution in the gaming world of poker and other games that are based on skills in the years to come and then it would be only a matter of time, the government of India uncuff it from the bar of illegality.