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While poker is being played in India for more than a decade now, it’s only in the recent past that the popularity of this mind sport has exploded to huge proportions. Fueled by the success of various online poker sites and increasing participation by poker professionals in international tournaments, several top-notch poker leagues have taken off in the country. Two of them i.e. Match Indian Poker League (MIPL) and Poker Sports League (PSL) have already played out two seasons each till date. Coming onto the Indian terrain for the first time is Global Poker League (GPL) India that, with the backing of its ‘skill game partner’ – The Stars Group’s PokerStars India, promises to be the biggest and one of the most prominent poker leagues in the country.
GPL India Season 1 will be India’s first long-run poker league and has six city-based teams – Kolkata Creators, Pune Alphas, Mumbai Jetsetters, Delhi Diehards, Bengaluru Hackers and Chennai Sharks. Online qualifiers are already underway at PokerStars India since June 24.
Following a six-week online qualification process, the league will move onto its latter stages, i.e. the Bootcamp, Draft Day, Regular Season and Finals. It’s going to be an exciting race to the finish line and making it to the teams will not only bring fame and fortune to the participating hopefuls, winning the GPL India will also mean each of the winning team’s five players will take home one Platinum Pass worth ₹20 Lakhs ($30,000) to the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) to be held in the Bahamas on January 19, 2019.
Online qualifiers for four GPL India teams are already in the books. The first team to start with the qualifiers was Kolkata Creators, captained by Team PokerStars India pro Aditya Agarwal. These were held from June 25 to July 1 followed by that of PokerBaazi pro and poker coach Abhishek Rathod-headed Pune Alphas from July 2nd to July 8th.
Chennai Sharks, that has poker pro Vikram Kumar as team manager, ran the online qualifiers from July 9 to July 15 and Delhi Diehards, headed by another team PokerStars India pro Muskan Sethi followed suit from July 16 to July 22.
Following a uniform, ‘freeroll’ satellite format, each team held online qualifiers on PokerStars India client, where poker enthusiasts could sign up to play seven freerolls i.e. ‘Round 1’ Multi-Table Tournament (MTT), from Monday to Sunday at 8 pm through the week and 3 pm on Sunday. The top 10 players of each ‘Round 1’ contested in the week’s Final, also held on Sunday. Of them, the top 10 finishers won a spot at the week’s ‘Team Final’.
Slots are still open for two teams, i.e. the high stakes cash game pro Kavin Shah headed Mumbai Jetsetters team that began with the qualifiers on July 23 to continue till July 29 and Bengaluru Hackers, headed by poker pro Vidwath Shetty that will be holding online qualifiers from July 30 to August 5.
Once all the online qualifiers are over, these six, 10-membered ‘Team Finalists’ comprising a total of 60 hopefuls will get a shot to glory as they attend the GPL India Bootcamp scheduled in New Delhi on September 8.
Indeed the fun would have just begun! From here on, the action will be recorded to be live-streamed later. Poker fans can tune in to a series of live-streamed and televised player interviews, and the buzz at the bootcamp, Draft Day and the Regular Season right up to the finale. Adding to the glitter will be a host of celebrities and important personalities who are expected to converge on the grand stage.
The 1-day long GPL India Bootcamp will start with quickfire interviews of the 60 hopefuls by a panel of judges that will be a mix of GPL India managers, local celebrities and selected personalities from different walks of life. Once the contenders have presented in two minutes on why they should join the team that they are ‘finalists’ for, the judges will give each of them a score from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest score, and 5 meaning the judges see the contender as an excellent fit for GPL. The player who gets the best score from each team will automatically be selected in the respective GPL India Team.
Then follow the Sit-and-Gos (SNG), and the 9 remaining participants from each team will compete in 9-max SNG. Each player’s starting stack will depend on how they scored in the panel interview and the lowest stacking stack will be 1,000, assigned to players who scored ‘1’. The biggest starting stack of 5,000 chips will be assigned to the ‘5’ scorers. The play will be held along the lines of a standard NLHE freezeout event and all tables will play down to the last survivor who will be officially on their GPL team’s roster.
A day later, the opening gala event of GPL India Season 1, i.e. the Draft Day will see all GPL India Season-1 team rosters disclosed, including the two players who survived the Bootcamp and two ‘drafted pros’ who will be picked by the Team Manager.
As soon as team players are announced, the Regular Season will take off. Over the next four weeks, the five membered GPL teams will compete over 6-Max and Heads-up NLHE variants at the GPL India studio. After weekly winners and top performers are announced, the week’s champion will be picked out of the week-ending ‘best of three’ final. The Regular Season will conclude with two teams falling out, to leave only four in contention for the Championship title.
In a two-day grand finale starting on October 27, the top four teams will battle in sequence. The final two teams will then compete over a series of consecutive battles before the GPL Season 1 Champion is crowned.
The excitement of GPL India Season 1 has already begun, with the action taking off on the virtual felts of PokerStars.in over the online qualifiers. Soon the most seasoned pros of the domestic circuit will be spotted battling with their teams for the top honors and a share of the grand prize!
Keep following the latest updates from GPL India right here on PokerGuru!