Poker: India’s next big mind game

Deep Parikh
|Published December 27, 2016

The sporting culture in India is slowly but steadily picking up. One of the most important aspect of this trend is that the youth are willing to experiment with newer sports. This provides incentive to  several organisers to give birth to several leagues. This symbiotic relationship is creating opportunities for young players to translate their passion into a profession. The most recent addition to this growing list of sports events is poker.


The Poker Sports league or PSL will be launched in mid-2017. This idea is being mooted by Anuj Gupta who is the founder of He is being assisted by India Poker Legend Pranav Bagai and Dabur’s Vice Chairman Amit Burman.

Leagues structure

The entire league will comprise of 12 teams. Each team will comprise of 9 members across all formats. However Indianised version of the game will be given more preference. The organisers are expected to set a prize money of 3.36 crores in the inaugural version of the league. Such a high amount is expected to create an initial hype around the event. As per Burman, there has been considerable interest shown by both players and franchisee owners from various parts of the country to participate in such a unique league.

When talking to media person he told that they are yet to finalise the execution details of the event, yet as many as 7 franchisee owners have already approached them. The contract will be of 10 years in which the owners would have to spend a sum of 70 crores. The format requires 12 teams to participate in the event. Burman was confident enough that the remaining five teams will be finalized once the structure of the league is out.

The key motivation for Anuj Gupta and his team to come up with such an idea is that as compared to the US, poker in India didn’t have a proper structure. A lot of players were interested in pursuing the game professionally but they did not have a proper platform. Most of the players preferred to play online. However the difficulty that the players face on such online portals is that they cannot get a feel of the opponent’s expression which at times can be helpful in inking what is going to happen in the game.

Poker is one of the world’s most popular mind games. The best part of the game is that the opponent can trick a mistake out of a player, by using mind games.


There are some interesting names which have bought franchisees in the league. Rishi kajaria of the Jaipuria Group has bought the Delhi franchisee. Mumbai team was bought by Mehul Shah who is a promoter of Anchor Electrical. Amit and Yatin Shah of IIFL Management grabbed the Hyderabad franchise, Taarun Jain from Legend Group bagged the Kolkata franchise, Purrshottam Bhaggeria took ownership of the Rajasthan franchise, Eventwala’s Gaurav Mohan chose Goa and Freecharge founder Kunal Shah took the Bengaluru franchise.

Such excitement for the event in the corporate sector only reflect the growing trend of the games amongst the Indian youth which the corporates are keen to tap into. There are still 5 franchisees up for grab. These include Chennai, Shimla, Pune, Punjab and Gujarat. The 12 teams that will be formed will comprise of 108 players who will participate in 70 game over a period on next three months.

The major point of contention is the broadcasting rights. The organisers have not been able to finalize the broadcasting partner for the event. However according to the sources the first season will be showcased online only. After chess it may be possible that poker turns out to be Indian next big mind game.

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