The recently concluded Deltin Poker Tournament 2019 onboard the Deltin Royale drew over a thousand participants. With 3 Crore Rupees to win across four major events, the DPT2019 was one of India’s largest sporting events. There are two major talking points here. The fact that it’s a ‘sporting’ event, and the fact that it’s one of the largest. Both these points come together in a way that emphasises just how relevant poker is today, and that it is more than just the backroom card hustle the movies make it out to be.
Spread over six days, the Deltin Poker Tournament included a 15k Deep Dive, 15k Bounty, 65k High Roller, and 35k main event. The winning amounts in these categories were INR 10,00,000 won by Pranay Mungekar, INR 2,05,000 won by Pankaj Bhardwaj, INR 27,50,000 won by Nikunj Jhunjhunwala, and INR 30,00,00 won by Rishabh Vekaria respectively. The event was hosted by the Deltin group, in association with their online poker partner, Adda52. At the press conference held during the event, we caught up with CEO of Adda52 Naveen Goyal, Deltin’s Business Head for poker Manish Adnani, and Adda52’s Celebrity Pro Minissha Lamba.
More than just a game
According to Adnani, poker is more just a game. In fact, it’s one of the leading career choices among today’s youth. With online resources such as Adda52, the number of youth gravitating towards the card game is increasing daily. But how exactly is this a career you may ask? Adnani explains, “just like any career, one needs to invest time, and acquire the skill required to excel in the field, and that is exactly what poker is. It is a highly skilled sport that tests your mental capability, similar to how you would compete in a game like chess.” Adding to that, Minissha Lamba, noted Bollywood actress who was also competing in the tournament added, “unlike other sports that require often years of training, poker is something where you can get in on the ground floor, and rise to the top very quickly if you have the right skills.” She continued, “It doesn’t matter if you’re a male or female, young or old; when you sit at the table, everyone is equal.” She even assured us that all her years in the film industry has not given her the edge when it comes to bluffing at the table. She says, “poker players are the best actors on the planet. You can study acting for years, but when you play poker, it will just come naturally.”
Skills for the kills
If poker is to be classified as a sport, then at what point does it become gambling? Or is it not gambling? Adnani was quick to provide an analogy. “Every sport has a buy-in. For example tennis. You can’t just walk on to a Wimbledon court and start playing tennis. You need to buy into the tournament, and if you win, you walk away with a cash prize. It’s the same with poker. You put up a starting amount which becomes your buy-in to the tournament. How long you last in the tournament depends on your skill.” Some attendees at the press conference seemed sceptical, but he eventually laid out the facts. “Poker players spend years learning the game because there is a lot of skill involved. You need to have a lot of confidence in yourself to be able to play a game like poker. In addition to that, you need to learn to read people – their eyes, body language, it’s all a part of the sport.” Lamba who took to poker as a fun social activity before eventually playing for Adda52 reiterated, “you could gamble on anything because when you’re gambling, you’re guessing the outcome, and hoping to get lucky. That’s not the case with poker. In poker, you require discipline and great mental capacity.
It’ll definitely be a while before a card game like poker is readily accepted by mum’s and dad’s as a child’s career choice – but advocates for the sport like Adnani, Goyal, and Lamba are positive that the landscape is changing. And if the thousand plus turn out for the Deltin Poker Tournament 2019 is anything to go by, then poker could very well be the sport of choice for the coming generation. What do you think? Is there more to poker than the taboo that surrounds it? Does it transcend the casinos and ‘gambling’ tag that is attached to it? We’d like to know what you think in the comments below.