Last year, India saw a marked increase in amateur poker enthusiasm in the country. The game has become particularly popular among women and has even commanded support by President Ram Nath Kovind, who honored 100 female players at a ceremony in November. One of the newest online poker sites, 9stacks, is latching on to the fervor and is sponsoring nine females at the Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT), India’s largest poker tournament, running February 15 to 19.
9stacks’ founder Sudhir Kamat hopes to increase gender diversity in the country, and to inspire women to take up poker. The group, who has received the nickname “the Nine Missketeers,” is being led by Muskan Sethi, one of the women honored by Kovind last year. The group also includes journalist Radhika Mahalingaiah, writers Chandni Malik and Simrit Tiwana, social media experts Sakshi Misra and Prashaste Sinha, entrepreneur Ritu Chadha, India Institute of Management graduate Lavanya Thota and former Online Poker News founder Rupal Bansal.
Sethi is a professional poker player originally from New Delhi. Besides dedicating a great deal of time to the game, the 28-year-old is also employed as a social worker. Since picking up poker in 2010, she has racked up $150,000 playing online and in live tournaments. Her inspiration to get involved came from watching reruns of WPT tournaments and watching Poker After Dark on YouTube. She won a PokerStars SharkCage qualifier three years ago through a free ticket and took a seat at the $1 million event against some of the biggest names in poker.
Poker in India, as it has been in many parts of the world, has been dominated by male players. This has changed recently, as more women have been joining online poker sites in the country. 9Stacks decided to encourage more women to play, with Kamat stating, “Given that poker is a mind sport that requires strategic acumen regardless of [the] gender we think there’s a huge market waiting to be tapped here.”
The DPT has around $400,000 up for grabs, with the NLHE Main Event offering a prize pool of $180,000. There are also Pot-Limit Omaha, Bounty and High Roller tournaments available. The results of the final table action, including whether or not any of the Missketeers made it all the way through, have not been released at the time of publishing.