The game of poker is played around the world for fun but there are also many who have been able to make a lot of money from the game via live tournaments and online play. In fact, players from the US have been making good money from poker for several years – even more so since the “poker boom” of 2003 – and top all-time earner Bryn Kenney has surpassed the $50m mark.
While India’s most outstanding players have not been as prolific as the top players in the US, there are now several domestic stars in the game of poker, with the current top five based on poker earnings presented below.
Vivek Rajkumar – $8,080,012
Rajkumar currently lies in position 133 of the world’s all time money list, the highest of the Indian players in the list. He moved to the US to study computer engineering and applied mathematics before discovering his skills in poker. He worked at Microsoft as a Software Engineer before he became a professional poker player. His biggest win came in 2008, when he won the World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open Main Event, in which he took away $1,424,500 in winnings. He is now focusing on being an entrepreneur in the tech world.
Nipun Java – $2,725,021
Java was born in New Delhi but now lives in LA, where he plays the majority of his poker tournaments. Java spent a number of years balancing his poker with work but has been successful enough to become a fully-fledged pro since 2014. He is now probably the best known live poker player from India and had a money finish in the Main Event of the WSOP in 2010.
Aditya Agarwal – $1,136,998
Aditya has been on the poker scene since 2006, picking up some relatively modest wins in his early days playing a number of WSOP tournaments across the US. 2007 was a good year for him, taking home just under $30,000 in July at WSOP 2007 and then winning just under $35,000 in Barcelona on the European Poker Tour in August. His biggest win to date was in the Asia Pacific Poker Tour in Macau, where he won $242,211.
Raghav Bansal – $1,094,911
Playing for serious money since 2015, Bansal started his run when he headed to Las Vegas to play six tournaments over a one month period, making over $50,000 in the process. He also had success on the Deltin Poker Tournament in 2016, where he took the top prize – and in 2017, he came second in the Championship Macau, winning $335,910.
Abhinav Iyer – $865,717
Iyer is yet to break through the $1m mark for total earnings but has had a very successful poker career so far, including top prize at the 2019 Asian Poker Tour in Ho Chi Minh City, winning just under $100,000. His big day came when he came 1st in the 50th WSOP 2019, scooping $565,346.
These five pros have proven that there is a lot of money to be made in poker for Indian players. But part of why such amounts are possible to win is due to the popularity of the overall sector of iGaming, which refers to all real-money gaming done online, be it poker, casino games, bingo or scratchcards.
Operators in this field are increasingly expanding their offering too, combining more than one of these products in order to keep players entertained. There are also hybrid games players can try their hand at, including the bingo scratch card option, which is much more straightforward than a round of poker or even the extensive betting options of roulette. At Paddy Power Bingo, online scratchcards have jackpots of over $100,000 to play for and you can play 24 hours a day.
Whether you fancy your chances of hitting the poker scene, or are happier playing online games from the comfort of your own home, that buzz of winning is a great feeling – and one that the five players listed above know a lot about.