Panaji: Having tried his hand at poker as an enthusiast and realising the skills the game requires, five time world champion Viswanathan Anand feels that the game of poker has a bright future in the country.
The 48-year-old Anand has been roped in as the brand ambassador for the second season of the Poker Sports League (PSL) that ended in Panaji on Sunday. He feels that there is a strong connection between the game of chess and poker and the latter being equally the game of skills, Anand said the game will thrive provided we change the perception in people about the game.
“When PSL asked me to be the brand ambassador I was excited to be part of it as I admire the game. Now I get a chance to look at it from ring side. People who are into poker have similar kind of professions like IT, people at university, mathematicians and so on. The trend is we have to study to get good at it. These are the subjects that interested me to be on board,” he said.
He feels that the game can make it big in the near future. “There is a lot of scope for expansion. It is very similar to chess to be able to access online. It drives a lot of interest among people in India. Right now it is a very small base but you need people to play consistently. It is all about the public perception. We have to convey that it is about skills and mind. Probably after the first broadcast I think people will see it as a sport.”
When asked about his association with the game, he said that he got interested when he learnt that many chess players shifted their loyalty to poker.
“About 15 years ago, many chess players started playing poker. I had a chance to hear from them about the game. I didn’t know about the game back then. They would tell me what skills it would involve, the training and other parts. It sounded so much like chess to me. I think anything that challenges your brain is nice. Whenever I try something new, it helps me in my game of chess.”
Comparing the game of poker with chess, Anand explained, “Though it is luck in the initial stages, skills come into play after a point. We have to think about probability a lot. In chess, the information is on the table at any given moment. There is no hidden information. But here there is information that is hidden. I can see the role of psychology and how it changes. In poker, information actually doesn’t exist. We try and guess probabilities. You can do all the calculation you want but in the end intuition does play some role. That is what interested me,” he explained.
Though he is an ardent fan of poker, turning a pro is not on cards for him as of now. “I didn’t get into poker because I need to put so much time into it to get better at it. I don’t want to take so much time away from chess. But I would like to convey to the public that it is a gripping game to watch and it is intellectually very challenging.”