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Poker Sports League to ignite mind sports revolution in India

With a prize money of Rs 3.3 crores, India's poker community will finally have a structured setup.

Amateur players at the India Poke Championship 

The growing popularity of 'mind-sports' in India has given birth to several leagues, which are creating avenues for participants to transition their passion into a profession. The most recent addition to this ever-growing list is Poker. Yes, you heard that right! If you're a small time 'teen-patti' player during diwali or just a lover of the sheer chameleon like mentality required in the sport, you could soon 'turn pro' right here in your own backyard.

 

The Poker Sports League or PSL will be launched in mid 2017, by founder of Adda52.com Anuj Gupta, India Poker Legend founder Pranav Bagai and Dabur Vice Chairman Amit Burman in his own personal capacity. PSL will involve 12 teams, with 9 players across all formats including more Indianised versions. The prize money for the league is set at Rs 3.36 crores. According to Burman, there has been substantial interest expressed from various parts of the country by both players and franchise owners.

 

He told Sportskeeda, “We are yet to finalise on the execution details, but as many as 7 franchise owners have already signed up. The contracts are for 10 years, with the owners spending around Rs 70 crore during that time. Five more franchise owners are expected to come on board very soon. We noticed poker in India didn't have a proper structure as compared to countries such as the US. A lot of players were there, but mostly online. And we all know poker is a game where looking at the other person's expression can give you an inkling of what's going to happen. It is the world's most popular mind game. So it just made sense for us to get on board. Chess is so popular, but what makes Poker more interesting is the fact that the opponent can trick a mistake out of a player, by using mind games.”

 

The Delhi franchise has been bought by Rishi Kajaria of the Jaipuria Group, Mumbai went to Mehul Shah, promoter of Anchor Electrical, Amit and Yatin Shah of IIFL Management grabbed the Hyderabad franchise, Taarun Jain from Legend Group bagged the Kolkata franchise, Purrshottam Bhaggeria took ownership of the Rajasthan franchise, Eventwala's Gaurav Mohan chose Goa and Freecharge founder Kunal Shah took the Bengaluru franchise.

 

Such high profile names from India's business circle highlight a growing trend of poker players in India. Five franchises – Chennai, Shimla, Pune, Punjab and Gujarat are still up for grabs. These 12 teams will comprise of 108 players, who will participate in 70 online tournaments for the next three months. Once selected by the franchise they will attend the grand finale.

 

There is no clarity over broadcasting right, but sources suggest that the first season will be showcased online only. After Chess and Gaming, Poker could just be India’s newest mind sport. 

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