Poker in India: more leagues than a Jules Verne novel

Poker in India: more leagues than a Jules Verne novel

The Poker Sports League in India has announced plans to return for a second season after locking the original ten franchises in for an eight-year period.

There was a time when a poker player from India seated at a major final table looked like an odd neglected plant at the Chelsea Flower Show, then Nipun Java and Aditya Sushant won three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets.

Poker in India: more leagues than a Jules Verne novel Indian poker is in bloom.

Poker leagues are sprouting up like people wearing green eyeshadow in a Culture Club concert. The Match Indian Poker League and the Global Poker League India are preparing to launch their inaugural offerings, and now, the Poker Sports League (PSL) has announced that their ten franchises are locked in for at least eight more seasons.

The PSL was the first poker league hosted on Indian soil when the Delhi Panthers won the Rs 1.5 crore first prize on the floating boats of Goa in May of this year, and qualifying for Season 2 begins in December.

League owners Amit Burman, Anuj Gupta, and Pranav Bagai return, and so do the first ten franchises who have committed to invest Rs 150 crore over the next eight years. Burman told the press that Season 1 was a mere ‘trailer’ of what is to come in the next eight years.

The organisers are promising that everything will be bigger and better. The prize money has increased from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 3.6 crore, the license fee will grow to Rs 1 crore by the fifth season, and Season 2 will welcome two new franchises to the stable. Organisers will host two auctions to find two new franchise owners.

Season 1 attracted players from eleven countries and 4.1m poker fans lapped up the action via Facebook Live. Encouraged by those numbers, the PSL team intend to broadcast Season 2 on TV.

The 12 teams will consist of ten players each: a team captain, two professional players, two live qualifiers, three online qualifiers, and two wild-card entrants. The online and live qualifiers begin in December with the final team selection deadline, April 2018. The Grand Final takes place, May 2018. Last season, over 20,000 players tried to qualify for the event. Wild-card entrants included Sam Razavi and Jordan ‘JWProdigy’ Westmorland.

The news that the PSL is returning for a second season means the chase for the top Indian talent is getting tight, assuming that contractually, players will be constrained to appearing in only one league.

The GPL has already captured some of the biggest names in Indian poker with the top Global Poker Index (GPI) male and female Indian players, Muskan Sethi and Nipun Java committed to the GPL. PokerStars Team Pro, Aditya Agarwal is also in the GPL India ranks, telling me that the PSL will have to work hard in the wild-card department to find the poker eye candy.