Poker is gaining popularity as the top mind sport: ACL winner Arun Sriram

Arun Sriram took a break in 2020 to explore different things and that’s when he was hooked to playing Poker. The 38-year-old recently won the Adda52 Champions Leaderboard (ACL) tournament and took home an Adda52 Pro contract worth INR 20 lakhs.

Poker is slowly becoming one of the most popular online games in India. During the pandemic, Poker’s popularity reached the next level with people from all age groups trying their luck at Poker.

Many individuals have given up on their full-time jobs to become full-time professional Poker players. One of them is Bangalore-based 38-year-old Arun Sriram – who emerged as the winner of the Adda52 Champions Leaderboard (ACL) tournament and took home an Adda52 Pro contract worth INR 20 lakhs.

Speaking to, Arun shared his views on his love for Poker, and how he took a break in 2020 to focus on playing Poker full time.

Tell us a bit about your background

I am an entrepreneur turned poker Pro. My early career was spent in the marketing function of one of India’s largest FMCG companies. In 2016, I went on to build a healthcare technology firm in Bangalore with a couple of friends which grew from scratch to become the market leader in dental supplies in India. In 2020 I took a break from active work to focus on poker.

Coming from a marketing background, when did you start playing Poker and what drew your attention to it?

I learned about poker when a bunch of friends came over to play home games during my early corporate career days, but it remained a side hobby till the pandemic. The complexity involved, the competitive environment and the chance to battle with the best minds in the country got me hooked to the game. I am relatively new to the circuit playing poker professionally from 2020.

To a layman, how would you explain the game of Poker?

Poker is the simplest of games to learn and the most complex of games to master.

What are some of the biggest qualities in a top poker player?

Discipline to put in the work, perseverance through failures, and humility in success to realize that there is a long way to go in terms of achieving mastery    

Several people have given up their full-time jobs to play Poker full time. Do you think the trend will continue?

Poker is increasingly gaining popularity in the world as the top mind sport. Magnus Carlsen – the chess champion played the Norwegian poker championship recently. And, India with its constant mobility upward has shown that more people have started chasing their passions instead of the standard 9-5. Combining both, I expect this trend to continue for a very long time.

How supportive is your family and what do you tell others when they ask you what you do for a living?

My wife has been a rock in this journey and being a National level pistol shooter herself, she understands the mindset requirements of a competitive sport. My parents and hers have been super supportive cheerleaders in this journey and take pride in stating what I do for a living.

With a negative perception of poker in society and there isn’t too much acceptance, how do you motivate yourself to keep playing poker?

Like every sport , Poker is going through its initial struggles. But with more awareness about the skill involved in the game acceptance levels will increase over time. I believe that the change is happening right now and it will only get better.

People who are good at mathematics go on to become pro in Poker. Would you agree with this?

That is not entirely true. People good at math have an advantage in one area of poker. Poker is a complex mix of math, statistics, psychology, situational awareness and a great sense of self.

If you could share, in terms of money, how much can a poker player make in a month?

It varies drastically depending upon the stakes you play, the skill level you are at, the volume you put in and the game selection for that volume. The top 1% might be making well above a top executive in a large firm in India who would have spent decades to reach there. The range immediately becomes 5 times, if you manage to go beyond India and play the highest stakes in some of the world series events.

How many tournaments do you play in a month and how do you keep track?

I play about 250 tournaments every month and have a personal track of each one and how I perform. also provides hand history which I use to go through my plays and study spots where I can improve and gain more of an edge over the long term.

In terms of awareness, how big a role did the pandemic play in helping Poker gain more popularity?

The fact that people could take a step back and get time to think about things, other than the mad rush that envelopes the standard urban lives, was one of the rare positives of the pandemic. It gave people the time to explore old passions or new hobbies and poker was wonderfully positioned for the homebound Indian. This is why both men and women spent time during the pandemic testing their mettle and a lot of new players entered the poker arena.

Can you tell us what’s the differentiator in the upcoming “Fly to Vegas” campaign and what are your prep plans to win it? is the most popular poker site in India and in their endeavor to give Indian players a glimpse into the international circuit they have launched the “Fly to vegas” campaign. They are providing unlimited Vegas packages along with money to play Poker in Vegas.

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