Poker breaking stigma slowly but surely

By Author  |  Published: 14th May 2018  12:09 amUpdated: 14th May 2018  12:14 am
(from left to right) Pranav Bagai, Amit Burman, Viswanathan Anand, Deepak Dhayanithy & Anuj Gupta with Season 2 Trophy

Panaji: Whenever a family gets together for a function or a festival, playing cards is the favourite pass time. However, the game of poker is considered still a stigma in the Indian society. The fact that the game is associated with cards and chips (money), the society is not ready to accept it as a mind game yet.

However, the second season of Poker Sports League (PSL) at Goa, is a proof that the mindset is changing slowly. The heartening factor for the admirers of the game is that the participants are mostly in their 20s which assures of changing trends in the society over the game and the bright future in the offing.

Getting into its second season, the co-founder of the league Amit Burman feels that poker is not a game of chances but a game of skills. “Unfortunately, when we think of poker we think if gambling and these two things are very different. Poker is a game of skills which requires a lot of talent, hard work and dedication to master,” he said.

He said that the gaming industry is a large one with around 300 cr tournaments being played in the 2018 alone. However, only around Rs 20 crore is playing in live poker while most of it is through online gaming in the country.

Pranav Bagai, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PSL feels that roping in World Champion Viswanathan Anand as the brand ambassador for the league will help the game grow faster.

Tournament director Danny McDonagh, who is overseeing the tournament, said that the game of poker has a bright future in Indian in next 10 years.

Sam Reddy, the owner of the Andhra Bullets, one of the team in the fray, feels that the ban on the game in Telangana is a major setback for the game to grow here. “When I returned from US, I started learning about the game of poker and when I played I realised how skillful it can get. All my friends play poker instead of three patti or rummy. People are now shifting to poker. I invested in it because I know it will become better in the future. Andhra Pradesh has so many clubs in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam but not in Telangana. Even the online game is also banned.

“The game has potential. The lack of an association is a huge roadblock. There are around 400 to 500 professional poker players in the country while in Telugu States we have around 20 players which is a good sign,” he concluded.