Even in Indian homes, where playing cards is viewed as taboo throughout the year, playing teen patti on Diwali is considered as an ‘auspicious’ activity. Those keen to make the age-old teen patti a little more exciting choose poker, and in the recent years, they have moved on to its online version.
During Diwali, most online platforms witness a sudden spike in the number of players, especially millennials. There is a significant 10-15 per cent rise in women poker players too.
“Online poker has really gained ground in the last five years. Our players have almost tripled in the last two years,” says Sudhir Kamath, CEO & Co-founder, 9Stacks, a two-year-old online poker company that has 3.5 lakh active users today.
“During Diwali, there is about 30 per cent rise in the number of players,” says Varun Mahna, Founder, Poker Dangal that launched in 2017 and has over two lakh users today. Of these, over one lakh play every month. “Poker is a popular card game in north and east India, while people from the south are more into rummy,” says Naveen Goyal, CEO CEO, Add52 that launched in 2011 and has 25 lakh registered players.
The reasons for this increase are many. A game of poker requires more emotional stability and skills, an analytical mind and a lot of strategising. Plus the complimentary elite status associated with poker.
More and more people are opting for this game game as they crave for the extravagant lifestyle of poker players. A large number of poker tournaments are now being organised in India; each offering a huge prize money. Further, online platforms also launch a number of offline campaigns to draw traffic towards them.
Last year, Adda52 organised a ‘Poker Nights with Gayle’ campaign that saw huge online traffic. This year, it conducted several online and offline activities such as WPT tournament in Goa that almost tripled its user base. Additionally, new features are frequently introduced to keep the interest of players alive. For instance, 9Stacks has launched ‘Family Tables’, which are closed groups one can form to play with anyone.
“Since a month now we have been campaigning with fun memes #YehDiwaliPokerWali besides contests,” says Kamath.
“It is a sport which appeals to millennials as it tests their skill sets. Also in the real world, you have to find mutually agreeable players, a time and a place, while online doesn’t have these limitations,” says Mahna. “Online poker gives you the flexibility of time. Further, offline one can have 10 players at a time at the most, while online one can play with as many players as one wants, even 200,” says Goyal, adding that though the industry is still in its nascent stage, the entire ecosystem of online games is growing aggressively.
Both Mahna and Kamath are in agreement. “More operators are coming into fray. Some years ago, there were three online poker platforms. Today, there are 30. Though as of now only five-six have significant market share, others are making big strides too,” says Mahna, adding, “Two years ago, there were 50 lakh users. Today, there are 80 lakh.”
Note of caution
Online gambling has the privilege of giving you anonymity, speed of play and permanent availability. But this may lead to an increase in gambling practice, potentially leading to problem gambling. So, go into it to enjoy yourself and earn big money but practice restrain to avoid becoming addicted.