The India Poker Championship is putting Indian poker on the map.
Poker is absolutely thriving all over the world, and is continuing to get bigger every year. The poker boom hit the USA and the UK first, but online poker has spread across the globe and it is now played in nearly every country. The Indian poker scene has been growing in recent years. Now there are a number of major tournaments held in the country, and there are also some world-renowned Indian players. If things continue on this trajectory, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an Indian player win some major poker honors in the near future.
Indian Poker Championship Putting India on the Map
The IPC has attracted some big names in the business including Dan Bilzerian.
India may not have a tournament as prestigious or longstanding as the World Series of Poker, but they do have a competition which is gaining more attention year after year. The India Poker Championship began in 2010, about five years after the poker boom spiked in the USA. It has been held every year since then, and over that time has attracted some well-known poker players from overseas. For instance, famous Instagram star and poker player Dan Bilzerian was there in 2019.
When the IPC started out in 2010 it was a quarterly event. But from 2011 onwards it became a bi-monthly poker competition which took place in a season format with players earning points over the course of the year. At the end of the campaign, the player with the most points is crowned the India Player of the Year. Since its inception, the number of participants has been steadily growing every year as more people become aware of the esteemed competition.
In 2013, the IPC made a major step forward when it went international and hosted the IPC Colombo in Sri Lanka. This helped it to gain fame in other countries and attracted more players from outside India. In the same year, the creators of the competition, Peter Abraham and Sameer Rattonsey, joined forces with well-known poker players Amin Rozani and Rajeev Kanjani. The aim of the powerful alliance was to put Indian poker on the map and work towards its legitimacy as a location on the world poker circuit. In the years since this partnership was made, there has been good progress.
What are the Favorite Poker Variants?
It should come as no surprise that Texas Hold’em is the most played variant of poker in India, as this is the most popular strain of the game all over the world. In this community version of poker, each player receives two hole cards. Then there are three cards dealt in the middle for players to share, followed by a fourth and a fifth after rounds of betting. Each player has access to seven cards to make the best possible five-card hand. The simplicity of this strain of poker is what has made it so popular. Players can learn it quickly and get into games without much training.
By using Texas Hold’em as the main form of poker for the IPC, the poker scene in India is able to attract a lot of new players who may only be aware of this strain. But event organizers should also look into adding different types of poker for expert players. This has been seen a lot recently in major poker competitions like the WSOP and the World Poker Tour. Hold’em may have been the most popular strain for professionals in the 2000s, but modern poker experts like to play a diverse range of games in order to improve their overall skillset.
One strain of poker that the Indian poker scene could look into offering more of is Pot Limit Omaha (PLO). This game shares a lot of similarities with Hold’em, most notably that it is a community strain. But there are some vast differences which make it incredibly exciting. For example, in this version each player receives four hole cards along with the five in the middle. But they have to use two from their hand and three from the board. This stipulation means that players need to put a lot more thought into what draws they are on.
In PLO, players also need to change the range of hands they play, or alter the way they play particular cards. Having aces in hand, for instance, is nowhere near as strong in Omaha as it is in Hold’em. As Daniel Negreanu points out, if you have running cards in your hand you are much more likely to be able to hit a straight which would usually be enough to beat the pocket aces.
Who are the Best-Known Online and Live Indian Players?
There are a few Indian poker stars who have made names for themselves in India as well as on the world circuit. With the Indian poker scene still considered to be in its infancy, it’s quite an achievement that there are so many renowned players from the country. Most of these stars mainly played online before moving on to live tournaments.
The most prolific online poker player in India is Aditya Agarwal, who is a well-known entrepreneur as well as a Texas Hold’em poker player. Agarwal has managed to make waves on the live circuit as well, accumulating over $648,000 in winnings so far in his career. There have been more successful live players than Agarwal, though.
The player who has claimed the most in live earnings is Vivek Rajkumar, who has won more than $4 million throughout his career. Other notable mentions go to Nipun Java who has won over $1.7 million, and Taha Maruf who has accrued winnings of around $666,000. One of the emerging players to watch out for is the Mumbai-born Amit Jain.
Poker in India is some distance behind the USA where the main action takes place. However, the game is hugely popular in the country and there are a number of professional players. Thanks to the IPC, which is growing every year, India could become a powerhouse of poker over the next decade.