Lee Davy reaches out to Sam Razavi to learn more about the forthcoming Poker Sports League in India, and wonders whether we will see more leagues springing up in the near future?
When Alex Dreyfus decided to change the face of poker by creating the Global Poker League (GPL) I thought that was the end of that. I assumed the greatest players in the world would sign up to play, and its success would help elevate the game to the fringes of popularity currently experienced by esports athletes.
I never expected someone else to take a cookie cutter to his process, but that’s what has happened after India’s Poker Sports League (PSL) held their Season 1 draft on the weekend.
As I wrote yesterday, India has a proven track record when it comes to turning something mundane into something magical. It revolutionised the world of cricket through the Indian Premier League (IPL), and who is to say they won’t be able to do the same with poker?
I have to admit, when I heard that Sam Razavi and Patrick Leonard had joined the league via the wildcard process, it was another move I didn’t see coming.
But it makes total sense.
There were a lot of top quality poker players who missed out on the Season 1 GPL Draft. With only 12 franchises and six players in each, there are fewer spots than the PSL.
So why not move to India?
And if the PSL becomes a success, then what is to stop other poker-loving entrepreneurs also grabbing for the cookie cutter to create even more pro leagues until they outnumber top quality online poker rooms?
I didn’t think it would happen in India; now I believe it could happen anywhere.
The GPL learned a great deal in that first season, and now the PSL don’t have to make the same mistakes. As the GPL and PSL grow, so it becomes easier for other entities to play follow the leader. And if they play the game well, there are more than enough stars in the poker world who will be willing to get involved, especially, players who represent online poker rooms like Leonard does with his role with partypoker.
Onto the picks in general, and I think they are both sound choices. Leonard is a former PocketFives World #1 and an active user of social media. He created one of the largest and most successful stables in the business, he uses Twitch and always answers any question the media is likely to load into a slingshot and fire his way.
Razavi, on the other hand, is a sensation in Asia winning the Asian Poker Tour (APT) Player of the Year more times than Ben Hur, Titanic, and The Lord if the Rings have won Academy Awards. So who better to rib tickle for further details on the new endeavour.
Talk about the invitation to play in the PSL
“Kunal Patni, a professional Indian poker player who I have gotten to know over the last couple of years, contacted me directly about whether I would be interested in joining the Hyderabad Kings for the Indian Poker Sports League. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.”
What attracted you to the league?
“I’ve been to India before to play poker tournaments and more specifically Goa where they will hold the league. The place has a great atmosphere about it anyway, but to have the opportunity to be part of the first PSL is an amazing opportunity. The poker scene in India is growing in a rapid and unique way, the likes of which we haven’t seen before in places like Macau or the Philippines. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be involved.”
How will the structure work?
“There are 12 teams each owned by a company or groups of businessmen. I believe the buy in per team is USD $40,000 fronted by the team owners, with the prize pool broken down amongst the top three finishing teams.
“There are four days of tournaments, with each team given 100,000 PSL points to spend on various tournament buy-ins. Several hours before the start of tournaments, team mentors must submit the names of players playing in that day’s various tournaments, the selection of which cannot be changed once submitted.
“The tournaments range from turbos, freezeouts, team events, heads up Holdem and heads up Omaha. Points are awarded to the top 15-20% finishing players from each team in each tournament. The total accumulated points represent the number of chips your team starts with on the final event, which is to be played by three players from each team, alternating players between levels. I believe the winning positions of the league is determined by the finishing positions in this final event.”
What do you think of the decision to include amateur players?
“I think it is great that amateur players are included. Anything that helps to grow the game is a good thing, and I think confining an event like this to an elite group would go against the reasons the league is being held in the first place.
“It is great for the growth and acceptance of poker in India and continues to move towards India being respected and recognised on the international stage when it comes to poker. Although after reading up on the live and online qualifiers, I think: “recreational” rather than “amateur” would be the term I would use. They all seem to have done fairly well and probably aspire to take their game to the next level. This is a great stepping stone for them.”