Sudhir Kamath could be called a late poker bloomer. He started his post-university career as a consultant with McKinsey India before serving as the managing director for Suntera Energy. It wasn’t until last year that he, along with three of his associates, decided to jump into the online poker business and created 9Stacks. Since then, 9Stacks has turned into one of the most popular poker websites in India and Kamath sees a bright future ahead for the industry in the country.
Kamath recently participated in an exclusive interview with the gambling law portal, GLaws.in. He indicated that he decided to make the move into online poker because of the popularity it was receiving in the country. He explained, “I always looked for opportunities that had cash flow as well as growth potential—online poker is one of those rare sectors where this combination is achievable, and that appealed to me. As a group, all four of us co-founders (Pratik, Abhinav, Rishab and I) shared the view that this is a great sector in which to build a lasting company.”
Kamath pointed out that 9Stacks has grown in popularity so quickly due to several reasons—innovative and honest promotions, fast cash-outs and a platform that is completely transparent and regulatory compliant. He added that the site sees approximately three million hands played monthly and that it has gross transactions above $5 million each month. He added, “By the way, we’re yet to complete a full year of operations—that milestone comes up in a few weeks, and we’ll have some fun surprises for our customers then.”
9Stacks could become the first poker company in the country to receive institutional funding from professional investors. Kamath alluded to this in the interview, saying that the company will be looking to raise more funding this year after a highly successful Series A funding round last December.
The online poker market in India is highly competitive and will continue to grow. To help maintain its success, 9Stacks offers some of the best promotions available. It recently completed a campaign that saw 25 people travel to Las Vegas to participate in this past summer’s WSOP representing “9Stacks Team India.” Additionally, the portal promises to allow players to cash out within two hours from making a request. There are some limitations, though, as the cash-outs must be made between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Kamath expects poker to evolve substantially in the country. He said, “Poker has been gathering pace for the past 10 years or so in India, and I feel the industry is on the verge of a massive poker boom. When we took 25 players to Vegas as ‘9Stacks Team India,’ we hoped some of them would make deep runs at the WSOP Main Event—and Vivek Rughani and Nishant Sharma did so in spectacular fashion.”
He predicts that online poker will “change the face of gaming in India” for the next five years. Adhering to the site’s business model, Kamath says, “If you offer a safe, fun environment with a good, intuitive interface, users will spend more time and make the effort to learn the game and get better at it.”