Delhi has always had a strong connection with poker. In fact, India’s leader in online and onsite poker hosting Anuj Gupta was born in Delhi back in October, 1978. Gupta would go on to be an industry leader in various sectors, and was instrumental in forming India’s very own Poker Sports League. This year, a new poker milestone looks like it will be reached, which coincidentally will also take place in October.
Delhi-based lifestyle brand Big Stack is set to launch the first online poker university in India this month. Founded by Rai Sahib Khurrana, Ritesh Tanu, and Sunny Kochar, Big Stack first got involved with poker via their business venture, Poker Merchandise. They created products catering to the many poker enthusiasts in the country, which gave them their initial glimpse into how big the market is — and how much bigger it could get. Big Stack hopes to not only make learning how to play poker accessible, but also create an overall wholesome experience that will teach potential players how they can apply poker concepts to their daily lives. And given that Google uses poker and chess to test their artificial intelligence bots’ cognitive abilities, Big Stack may just be on to something big.
This development in the world of poker coincides with a global boom that the sport is currently experiencing. You only have to look at the record-breaking number of players that entered the 50th World Series of Poker earlier this year. A staggering 154,216 players signed up and played in 69 of the organisation’s events, breaking last year’s record of 123,865.
Another good sign that the sport is growing is if you take a look at Asia as a whole. Over the past few months, PPPoker’s Twitter feed has featured thrilling events in countries like the Philippines and Taiwan, which just goes to show the robust growth the game is experiencing in and around Asia. These events are testament to how popular poker has become in Asia, and in India, this has no doubt led to the development of its first online poker university.
However, this isn’t the country’s first attempt to educate the poker community. Just last month, the Indian Institute of Management in Kozhikode, through the leadership of Professor Deepak Dhayanithy, launched the country’s first poker elective course. This comes as no surprise to Dhayanithy’s former students, as The Economic Times notes that the professor has been known to use poker to deepen his class discussions even before the course was established. The course, called Competitive Strategy: The Game of Poker, would cover decision-making in poker and how business managers can apply the same concepts to real-world scenarios. And while this may seem odd to some, similar courses have been offered in Western universities such as Harvard and Yale. This elective, alongside the opening of the first online poker university, can only mean good things for the future of the game in India, and the region as a whole.
All of this is in line with Big Stack’s goal of fostering the game into a more serious sport rather than the hobby that it is now. They hope to cultivate a generation of Indian players that will be able to compete with professional players from all around the world. And considering the foundation they are building, the future is definitely going to be bright for poker in India.