2017 was a landmark year for India’s poker industry, as we saw some significant developments both in online as well as offline gaming of India. Right from Delta Corp announcing opening of Sikkim Casino, Deltin Royale Goa playing host to this year’s biggest event- WPT India and Global Poker League (GPL) recently making an announcement of coming to India to Viswanathan Anand joining Poker Sports League (PSL), the year had it all. Here is a quick look at the top 10 poker stories of 2017:
1.Delta Corp Announces Opening of Sikkim Casino on January 14
Continuing on their policy to expand their online and offline presence, Delta Corp announced the launch of its Casino Deltin Denzong at Hotel Denzong Regency in Gangtok on January 14, 2017. Since Casino licenses in Sikkim are only granted to 5-star hotels, so they built it in Hotel Denzong Regency.
Sikkim has already two casinos-Casino Mahjong in the Mayfair Resort and Casino Sikkim in Hotel Royal Plaza. However, Hotel Denzong Regency is located in a more convenient location in Gangtok city.
In July 2016, Delta Corp notified stock exchange that it had got the license to operate a casino in the Hotel Denzong Regency and that Ugen Gyatso, Tourism & Civil Aviation Minister of Sikkim, would be the Chief Guest at the launch ceremony on 14th January 2017. The company also promised to offer as many as 150 gaming positions in the new casino to cater to the Eastern region market.
2.WPT India & WPT India Player of the Year Launch
April 2016 saw a multi-year brand licensing deal being signed between India’s largest poker site- Adda52 and the World Poker Tour (WPT). This year in May, the World Poker Tour (WPT) partnered with Adda52 to launch the first ever WPTDeepStacks India as well as the WPT India Player of the Year award.
WPT India made its India debut with the WPTDeepStacks India that took place from 7th to13th November 2017 at India’s largest floating casino- Deltin Royale in Goa. The series was tremendously successful drawing over 1400 participants with 527 entries coming from its Main Event alone, which was taken down by Vikash Mantri who pocketed a whopping prize money of INR 60,30,000 for winning the title.
3.Badshah Gaming Partners with Casino Pride Goa
In the month of June this year, the online gaming portal Badshah Gaming partnered with Casino Pride Goa with the latter acquiring over 30% stake in Baadshah Gaming’s holding company OceanKing Software Solutions LLP. The basic objective of this collaboration was to boost the gaming portal’s presence into the live gaming arena and launch the ‘Baadshah Gaming Live’ property at the Casino Pride.
Taking this collaboration to a next level, Badshah Gaming was seen in action with their poker room Baadshah Gaming Live playing host to the live tournament series- inaugural Baadshah Gaming Live Tournament. The series was not a roaring success but the start was not bad at all, as it attracted a good mix of pros and players from across the country. It was India`s first WSOP bracelet winner Aditya Sushant who took down Badshah Gaming Live Main Event for INR 7.65 Lacs after beating Anup Palod in heads-up..
4. Aditya Sushant & Nipun Java Win First WSOP Bracelet for India
The year 2017 was the memorable year for India’s poker community, as India got its first WSOP bracelet. India’s Aditya Sushant and Nipun Java won Event #10: The $1,000 Tag Team event at the WSOP 2017. Team Sushant and Java battled with a 843 entry field and made their way to the final table. On the 101st hand of the final day, this Indian team took the commanding chip lead into heads-up.
On the final hand, Team Pablo Mariz – David Guay moved all in with K-Q and Sushant finally made the call with A-8. David led on the flop Q-Q-3, but the turn A followed by another A on the river changed the game and Team India took down the coveted WSOP bracelet for India.
5.Minissha Lamba Joins Adda52 as India’s First Celebrity Pro
The October month of 2017 was also crucial in the sense that Adda52-India’s largest poker site signed up the Bollywood actress Minissha Lamba as its first celebrity poker pro and sent her to play her first international poker tournament- WPT 500 Aria as a celebrity pro for Adda52. Minissha really added that an oomph factor to the game of poker, playing and promoting it across prestigious poker events such as Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT), World Poker Tour (WPT) India and various other marquee events.
Born on 18 Jan, 1985 in a Haryanvi Jat family in Delhi, Minissha graduated in English (Hons.) from Miranda House, University of Delhi. She wanted to be a journalist but her talent and beauty took her to Bollywood. Minissha began her Bollywood career with the film Yahan. Some of her notable films include Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., Bachna Ae Haseeno, Well Done Abba, Bheja Fry, Kidnap and Zila Ghaziabad. Her upcoming film is Kannada, a romance thriller to be directed by Sameer Hanchate & released in 2018.
Minissha has a deep love for poker and has participated in various prestigious events till date. She first came in headlines when she finished 4th in 15K tournament at India Poker Championship (IPC) in 2011. This year she won a special Ladies Event at Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) September 2017.
6.Viswanathan Anand Joins Poker Sports League as its Brand Ambassador
In December 2017, the PSL (Poker Sports League) founders roped in Viswanathan Anand as the PSL brand ambassador. The objective was to bring in more credibility to the game of poker. PSL co-founder Amit Burman had this to say: “Chess and poker are frequently compared as both games are based on strategic thinking and decision making. Both games also involve reading the other player at the table.”
Commenting on this development, the chess master- Anand said, “What I have observed though is that poker and chess have some similarities in the thinking process and being a chess player may actually influence your poker playing style,”
PSL Season 2 finale will take place in Goa in the latter half of 2018, where 12 teams will battle it out for their share from a whopping prize pool of INR 3.6 crore.
7.Gopal Kanda Takes Over Casino Maharaja
The former member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly, Gopal Kanda, signed an agreement with Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group to start offshore casino operations in Goa, India. Essel Group entered the agreement that would see the Casino Maharaja vessel given on lease to Kanda for a year.
Kanda is the owner of the GoldenGlobe Hotels Private Limited (GGHPL), a company that secured the sixth license to carry out but failed to renew the license. However, the license was renewed after GGHPL paid the pending Rs.46 crore along penalties. GGHPL would use the license for the MV San Domino vessel until their own vessel is repaired.
8.Raj Kundra Partners With IFP to Launch Match IPL
This year, the popular businessman Raj Kundra signed an agreement with the IFP (International Federation of Poker) to launch the Match Indian Poker League to promote poker in India.
The league was the first of its kind in India and featured 8 teams representing different cities of the country. The league ended in big success and its finale was broadcasted on MTV in India. Mumbai All Stars was the eventual winning team. It was captained by Bollywood star Harman Baweja and featured poker stars like Abhishek Jalan, Nikunj Jhunjhunwala, Sacheen Ramchandani, actress Anita Hassanandani, etc.The team then travelled to UK to represent India in the Poker Nations Cup in December, where they ended finishing in the 5th place.
9.Muskan Sethi Gets Awarded by Indian President
Recently, Indian President in Ram Nath Kovind awarded 100 women for their remarkable achievements in their respective fields. The Former Adda52 female pro Muskan Sethi was also awarded by him for being ‘India’s First Woman to Play Professional Poker’.
Muskan currently holds over $44,000 in live tournament earnings and over $115,000 in online tournament earnings. She is one of the most respectable poker players who has won and cashed out across several prestigious international and domestic poker events over the years.
Expressing her feelings about the award, Muskan said, “It’s hard to express how I feel. My journey so far is flashing before my eyes, feeling blessed and really looking forward,” She was selected for the award by the Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi in October this year. Muskan is a social worker and donates some of her winnings to charity. This was perhaps the key reason why she was recognized as the best person for the award. Muskan is really an inspiration for women poker aspirants in India.
Global Poker League Announces GPL India
Keen to increase its presence in the Asian region, the GPL (Global Poker League) announced back in August 2017 that they will be bringing the GPL to India very soon.
Run by Mediarex Sports & Entertainment, GPL will have six city-based teams, which will be competing against each other. The winning team would then compete with other GPL teams from around the world.
Most recently in December, Mediarex made another announcement of partnering with Kwan Entertainment, the largest talent management company in India, to bring star power to GPL India. However, there was a twist in the story this time, as the league won’t be the Global Poker League, but it would enter India with the Global Player League, with focus of shifting from traditional poker to esports and online gaming. The 6 teams that in this league will include Delhi Diehards, Mumbai Jetsetters, Bengaluru Hackers, Kolkata Creators, Ahmedabad Alphas and Chennai Sharks.
10.Team India Shines on Global Poker Scene
Overall, 2017 was a memorable year, as it was not just the WSOP that saw Indians crushing but our players shined throughout the world. Raghav Bansal chopped the HK$50,000 NLH event at Macau Poker Cup 26 for HK$1,067,500 (INR 92.20 Lac), Adda52 Team Pro- Nikita Luther finished 5th for a career-best $65,000 in the WPT500 Aria Las Vegas event and recently Varun Gupta claimed the APT Finale Macau Championships 2017 Main Event title for HK$300,400 (INR 24.81 Lac).
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