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Why are top professional poker players looking to play in India?

In this digital era, more and more poker players are attracted to online gaming, and it has led to a gradual rise in the market.

January 29, 2020 / 05:26 PM IST

Sudhir Kamath

The game of poker has undeniably received success in India and has grabbed the eyeballs of more and more enthusiasts as compared to a handful in a few legal off-shore casinos, who have accepted it as a game of skill.

In this digital era, more and more poker players are attracted to online gaming, and it has led to a gradual rise in the market. According to an Economic Times report, the current online poker industry is estimated to be at around $120 million, and it is mushrooming well in India. There are many reasons how and why the game of skill has gained momentum here.

Below are the reasons why professionals are getting attracted to playing poker in India.

State governments acknowledge the game as a fair trade.


With growing support from the jurisdiction, the game has gained the full-fledged freedom to expand its business territories in the luscious market. Several states like Karnataka, Nagaland and West Bengal have given a clear verdict, classifying poker as a skill-based game. In Goa, Poker is allowed in casinos. With the efforts of the Indian Poker association, Gujarat and Kerala are mulling over whether to make poker legal in these states.

Technological advancement

Technology has brought colossal transformations to the world of poker, and has impacted the game in different ways. The advent of smartphones and internet penetration has led to the popularity of poker. Let us briefly discuss how it has impacted the game.

>Smartphone boom in India

The introduction of smartphones has been a growth engine for poker in India. The increased accessibility of playing online poker has allowed the common people to tap on a screen, and download the game on their smartphones. By 2020, it is expected that India's mobile games market will be worth $1.1 billion and the number of users will become 628 million by then.

>Internet penetration

According to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report, India is now second only to China in terms of internet users with 451 million monthly active internet users. A significant chunk of these millions are adopting poker as a source of entertainment to spend some quality time, improve their problem-solving skills and ease their stress. There are scores of gaming platforms available online where players can enjoy the game of skills anywhere they wish.

>Millennials and the popularisation of western culture

The globetrotting millennials are well exposed to western culture, and has adopted it to their day-to-day life. The recreational centres such as nightclubs, bars, pubs, discotheques have gathered widespread acceptance among the millennials, with poker becoming an area of interest for them. The Gen Y spends their free time playing poker, with many becoming professional poker players in India who have earned laurels globally.

>The advent of poker tournaments

The rising demand for poker has led to the emergence of several live poker tournaments like India Poker Pros, India Poker Championship, India Poker series, etc. These tournaments have won the hearts of poker enthusiasts from all over the country with participants taking active parts in them and winning huge cash prizes. The Indian Poker player like Abhishek Goindi, Nipun Java etc. have garnered fame, and have inspired many Indians to take to the game as a professional career option.

>The future of poker in India

The game of poker is going in one direction, that is upward, and it is confident of clocking a healthy growth in future. With such vast prospects yet to be tapped, it can be said that poker will be of great significance in shaping the next generation fans of Indian sports, with many youngsters earning a livelihood playing the game.

(The author is CEO and Co -Founder, 9stacks)
Moneycontrol Contributor
first published: Jan 29, 2020 05:25 pm
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