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Move over teen patti, online poker is fast becoming a Diwali favourite

For poker platforms, Diwali is a good time for user acquisition.

October 24, 2019 / 01:52 PM IST

What's Diwali without a card game with family and friends? Many are busy brushing up on card game skills. But what are you playing --- rummy, teen patti or poker?

It looks like people are preferring poker over the other two games, especially during Diwali to add a bit of skill to card games.

This is why online poker platforms are seeing increased activity during the festival period especially Diwali.

Moneycontrol spoke to a few online poker platforms to understand how the festival of lights is an important period for their business.

For Poker Dangal, the number of monthly active users during Diwali goes up to 130,000 from 100,000. The higher traffic translates to higher volume and revenues, said Varun Mahna, CEO and Founder.

He added that the average time spent on their platform also increases during Diwali. “People want to experience the game (poker) more during this time of the year. Hence, the average time spent on our platform increases to around four hours during Diwali from three hours during any other time of the year.”

The festive season also helps bring more first-time players to the game.

“It is a great time for new people to get introduced to poker," said Sudhir Kamath, CEO and Co-founder, 9Stacks.

Poker's popularity has been on the rise in India over the past few years.

Every month we have around 6,000 to 7,000 users that get activated and around 10,000 to 12,000 that are registered. During the Diwali period, overall registration number goes up by 50 odd percent and activation also goes up by 50 to 60 percent,” he said.

Same is the case with PokerStars that sees a user spike of about 35 odd percent during Diwali.

Ankur Dewani who is the CEO of Sachiko Gaming that operates PokerStars India said that on their platform time spent by regular players increases by 20-30 percent and those who do not play often end up playing seven to eight times during Diwali as against one or two times.

Growth of poker both online and offline

Poker may be a niche pursuit in India but it is growing both online and offline.

“Currently, there are eight million players playing poker in India but only two million are online. So, there is tremendous opportunity to convert offline users to online. The number of people learning poker is also increasing. So we see the market doubling in the next few years at least," said Mahna.

He also compared the average revenue per user (ARPU) with other games like cricket fantasy and rummy. “Cricket fantasy games are huge but their ARPUs are low. The ARPU for rummy is higher than cricket but lower than poker though the audience is still bigger. In poker, the average revenue is huge but the scale is small in comparison to cricket fantasy and rummy. The scale is increasing year-on-year,” he added.

In terms of number of companies offering online poker, Mahna said that the market right now is not so big and is dominated by five to six players, or operators. “There is enough space for six to seven operators but not for 30,” he added.

Diwali is the test of time for poker operators in terms of user retention and to market their product. This means that operators come up with a lot of offers and tournaments for poker enthusiasts.

Like Diwali Rush by PokerStars, a week-long festival starting from October 28 to November 3. The prize pool this Diwali has gone up to Rs 2 crore from Rs 1 crore last year thanks to the strong reception last Diwali.

Maryam Farooqui
first published: Oct 24, 2019 01:52 pm