The inaugural edition of India’s Poker Sports League (PSL) turned out to be a great success so much so that co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Pranav Bagai is already contemplating season 2 for the PSL. The PSL was launched with the objective of popularizing the game of poker in India and changing its reputation of being associated with gambling to one that is a mind game and a sport.
Poker Sports League – India
The PSL was in many ways similar to the Global Poker League (GPL) which was launched by Alexander Dreyfus and looked to sportify the game of poker. The GPL was carried out on a much larger scale as it involved teams from different continents and also ran into problems due to its lengthy format and financial demands. However the PSL did not face any such problems as it was a short 5 day format and since the teams were owned by entrepreneurs and wealthy individuals, finance wasn’t an issue.
Delhi Panthers Top Leaderboard
The 2017 PSL was won by the Delhi Panthers who took home prize money in the range of $225,000.  The PSL comprised of 12 teams from all over the country and each team had 9 members consisting of 1 mentor, 2 online qualifiers, 2 live qualifiers, 2 wildcards and 2 local poker pros. Delhi Panthers were crowned at the Deltin Casino Royale in Goa after they finished in first place on the leaderboard and their owners Gaurav Goal from Dhampur Sugar; Ruchirans Jaipura from the Jaipura Group; Rishi Kajaria of Kajaria Ceramics and Abhishek Jain from Leela Jewels were very happy with the team’s performance.
The Mumbai Anchors finished in second place and were awarded around $150,000 for their efforts.  The Kolkata Royals secured the third place and won approximately $75,000 while the Punjab Bluffers received $52,500 for finishing in fourth place. The PSL created a buzz in India’s poker community because the inaugural edition had a lot of money guaranteed and the fact that international players were participating via wildcard entries helped to make it a huge success.
Delhi Panthers – Players
The Delhi Panthers were mentored by poker pro Akash Malik and the team comprised of Samay Nodi and Akshay Nasa (live qualifiers), Prashant Bhutoria and Kunal Bhatia (online qualifiers), Vinod Megalmani and Aman Dhamija (local pros) and Eric Riise and Dhruv Patel who entered as wildcards.
International Players
A number of international poker pros were part of the PSL through the wild card format. Pros such as Sam Razvi who has won the APT player of the year on a number of occasions, Akira Ohyama a top poker player in Japan, World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Calvin Lee, Dong King who was one of the players to take on artificial intelligence (AI) Libratus and Thomas Ward, the runner up for the 2015 Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) were also part of the PSL.
Another international star who featured in the PSL was Mel Judah who served as Tournament Director. Judah has won more than $3.6 million in live tournament earnings and has played with the likes of Doyle Brunson and Stu Ungar. Indian poker pros were happy to get the opportunity via the PSL to play and interact with some of these well-known international poker pros as it gave them both the exposure and experience to make them better poker players.
PSL Success
Sam Razvi was very impressed with the PSL and took to Facebook to thank co-founder Pranav Bagai for an impressive inauguration edition of the PSL. Razvi went on to say that the PSL had the platform to become absolutely huge in the coming years. Bagai has confirmed that there will be a second edition of the PSL which will most likely be bigger and better based on his plans.
In a statement, Pranav Bagai said “The never seen before structures and massive prize pool kept the adrenaline rush going for players along with the chance to make some serious money. On closing our first season with a splendid grand finale, we are sure that this is definitely not a one-and-done season and we have plans to come up with season two next year.”
Akash Malik the mentor for the Delhi Panthers stated that the poker community in India enjoyed the inaugural edition of the PSL and poker has taken strides to being known as a sport in the country.