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Poker Gaining Ground in India – Economic Times Validates Skill Behind The Game
February 21, 2017, 18:31:51
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A lot has been written about the Indian poker boom the past couple of years and perhaps the greatest validation of this came with leading financial daily, the Economic Times (ET) publishing articles about the development on February 19, 2017.

While it can be argued that stakeholders have naturally touted the growing popularity of poker in the country, a close look at the facts is testimony to this. The first ET article titled ‘How traditional card games such as poker, rummy and teen patti have taken the mobile gaming industry by storm’ reveals just exactly how far such games have come in the country and why they have a great future.

From a socially unacceptable pastime to a legitimate career, poker continues to spread its tentacles across remote reaches of India and helping it grow are pioneering new sites such as Poker High, a portal by Quantumskill Gaming and Tech. Pvt. Ltd. Mithun Rebello, Co-Founder of Poker High voices a collective statement as he declares, “Skill-based gaming is a legitimate career and business choice, and must be encouraged.”

Rebello believes that this is just the beginning and states that the company plans, next include setting up an “online poker school to teach the game and spread awareness.”

The timing could not be better. Anuj Gupta, Co-Founder, Adda52 claims that “card games like poker and rummy that need skill are making a comeback.”

Adda52, India’s oldest poker operator was in fact taken over by Delta Corp, the country’s largest and only BSE listed entity late last year, further confirming the growing market for such activity. Besides Delta, the Essel Group, as well as international players like PokerStars and the Mojo Group are also eying entry in the Indian market reiterating the potential involved.

And, the way ahead seems to be only getting better, as poker has begun to be considered not just acceptable, but a mentally challenging game, with some top corporate names endorsing it.

According to another article in the ET, Jitendra Gupta, Managing Director of digital payments provider PayU India admits, “Poker has helped me evolve as a person in terms of my decision-making abilities.”

Gupta is one among other start-up entrepreneurs who has bought a team in the newly launched Poker Sports League.

Internationally, reputed educational houses such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology has acknowledged the value of poker and offers an online course in poker as part of its investment management and trading syllabus. 

Sumeet Khanna, Managing Partner of online healthcare provider Surgivisor echoes this and says that it was poker that taught him skills of money-management and discipline.

Rutvik Doshi, venture capitalist sums it up as he states, “Entrepreneurs are risk-taking animal. They place calculated bets against a huge unknown, and they constantly try to anticipate a rival’s moves to adjust their strategy.” 

“This is exactly what a poker player does on the table” he points out.

It certainly does explain why more and more poker-enthusiasts are taking to the business side of the game energetically.

Moreover, the legal way ahead also seems to be opening up for poker with several landmark judgments and lawful sanctions for operators. In fact, in mid-December 2016, Nagaland issued its first four licenses to operate online poker and Poker High was among these.

Speaking about the legal sanction, Rebello says, “The law is a game-changer. It has given a huge boost to our efforts to bring poker out of the darkness that it was unfairly relegated to.” 

Rebello, a lawyer, risked it all putting his trust in the game and it certainly seems to have paid off, as within these three months, the site has already garnered more than 10,000 users, with many other peer sites claiming an equal amount of popularity.

Poker has certainly come of age in India. The ET articles are just the latest in a growing number with dailies such as DNA, Mumbai Mirror and others having already published the increasing grip of the sport in India.

Cover image and content courtesy: Economic Times

Written by: Shyamala Gauri

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