A potential poker boom is waiting to take place in India and some of the top poker operators in the world are waiting patiently for the poker market to take off. India has over 1.3 billion residents and a poker boom will turn India into one of the most lucrative poker markets in Asia.
One of the main factors that is slowing down the possibility of this poker boom is the perception that poker continues to have throughout the country. This is a general perception that poker is a form of gambling as no one relates to poker as a professional sport. Both legislators and the general public view the card game as a game that is based on luck and not skill.
However, there are a few states in the country that have embraced poker and this has helped further the game. While poker continues to be fairly new in the country, many online poker sites, live tournaments, and poker leagues have mushroomed to cater to the growing demand and popularity of the sport.
Poker Continues To Grow Rapidly In India
PokerStars, the biggest online poker website in the world recently launched operations in India by launching a dedicated platform for Indian poker players. PokerStars.in went live in April to give Indian players the opportunity to play among themselves and bet in rupees instead of dollars as they were doing prior to the launch of PokerStars India. PokerStars entrance into the Indian market is a big positive for India’s poker industry as this move further localizes the sport and gives more people the chance to join in, either as recreational or competitive players.
Raj Kundra of Viaan Industries Ltd recently announced the launch of an Online Team Poker League (OTPL). This is just one of the many poker leagues that have launched across India during the last couple of years. Match Poker League, Poker Sports League are some of the other poker leagues that are looking to further the game in India and grow India’s poker player pool.
The growth of poker in India has also helped improve the quality and play of Indian poker pros as can be seen from the recent victories of Nipun Java and Aditya Sushant who made history in June 2017 when they became the first Indian-based poker players to snag a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet at the $1,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em event.
Negative Perception About Poker
However, the negative perception of the game of poker continues to be the biggest drawback to the poker boom.
While live and online poker is legal in a few Indian states, most states have a ban on poker because poker falls under the category of gambling. Poker enthusiasts tried to overturn the poker ban in the state of Gujarat but their attempt met with failure after the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court recently ruled that poker is game of chance and not a game of skill.
This means that poker still falls under gambling, making it hard for casino and operators to organize poker clubs and tournaments, unless sanctioned by the government. Since playing live poker is pretty difficult across India, a lot of Indian poker pros are turning to online poker sites – both licensed and unlicensed.
One of the top licensed online poker websites in India is Adda52.com which offers Indian poker pros the chance to play No-Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, and Crazy Pineapple games.
Anuj Gupta, founder and CEO of Adda52.com disagrees with the perception that poker is a game of luck. Gupta believes that top poker players possess a lot more skill than a professional hedge fund manager. He also referred to the fact that many poker players travel abroad and even train with foreign coaches just to advance their skill level.
In a statement, Gupta said “When we were starting up, we had to literally educate our investors, banks and everyone around by showing the legal framework. We had to educate people about the difference between gambling and a game of skill. Playing games online is still discouraged as it is seen as a recreational activity. This makes boosting online gaming an uphill task in India”.

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