3 Minutes Read
There can be little debate that the poker demographic is highly skewed in the ratio of men to women in the poker industry. That’s what our “Women in Poker” series is all about – bursting that bubble! It’s with this mission in mind that we launched this series in April last year.
Women’s participation is no longer limited to exploits on the felts as an increasing number of talented professionals from the fairer sex have been working tirelessly behind the scenes.
Moving into 2021, we now look at the 10 most popular “Women in Poker” who we featured through 2020. Take a look.
1. Roshni Raj
“Ensuring a seamless poker experience behind the scenes!”
We had featured Rohni Raj in our “Women in Poker” on September 9, and she has come out to be the most popular. That’s not surprising, and you’d understand why if you’ve attended any of the Baazi Poker Tour events in Goa, where Raj is just about everywhere.
The Executive Assistant to PokerBaazi CEO Navkiran Singh, Raj is the quintessential behind-the-scenes star that handles it all – from player queries to coordinating with other in-house functions like Marketing and Operations for the poker brand.
Raj has completed her MBA from Bengaluru and was instrumental in launching the PokerBaazi LIVE poker room in Garden City in October 2016. “It has been a fun and enriching learning experience for me in the industry, where I still feel I have a lot to learn,” says the Patna-born Delhi resident, who aspires to become one of the most recognized women poker leaders in the country.
2. Deepika Patil
“Keeping the game going, off the tables!”
Pune-based Deepika Patil is an engineer from the prestigious MIT Pune, but it’s poker where she found her calling. She hopped onto the poker train in 2016 and has been playing the game seriously ever since.
“I was always interested in playing mathematically challenging games, but I never thought that it would bring me to where I am today,” says Patil, who also works for the online poker platform Calling Station as the site’s social media and content expert. If content creation, running social media campaigns and analyzing and evaluating marketing strategies are just some of her day-to-day responsibilities, Patil dreams of becoming a writer in the future, with a book penned to her name.
3. Sanya Matta
“Enjoy every little experience of life and recall it with a smile!”
If you had to describe Sanya Matta, you’d start by calling her an incredibly hard worker with an innate spirit of adventure and learning. As the manager at PokerShots, Matta is one of the most visible female faces in the industry today. Her role requires her to manage the media portal and overlook the marketing, product, and operation verticals, something she handles adeptly with her team’s unwavering support.
Matta, who hails from Jalandhar, Punjab, and currently lives in Delhi, believes that experience teaches one more than textbooks. She lives by the mantra, “Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself!”
4. Akanksha Singh
“A Poker Player, A self -proclaimed Drama Queen, A Content Creator, A Doctor! A girl who dons many hats!”
She’s a girl with immense talent that ranges from playing poker to content creation, all with a healthy dose of humor. She may be a doctor by qualification, but Akanksha Singh will force you to think of how she became such a “drama queen.” For someone who always had a “filmy keeda,” Singh is getting to live out her passion through short skits she enacts with her husband, Yuvraj Singh. The husband-wife duo is better known as “Suited Connectors” across social media channels and put up a laugh riot with their videos.
The Mumbai-resident has been playing poker for five years now and is hard to miss at poker tournaments in Goa.
Talking about her poker journey, she says, “My poker journey has been a very beautiful one, starting with home games to higher stakes and tournaments… it’s been very thrilling, and I feel that each hand and all the opponents have something to teach.”
5. Shilpa Shetty
“Championing the poker movement in India!”
Bollywood diva Shilpa Shetty Kundra was featured in our “Women in Poker” series on December 9. The A-lister TV personality is a keen poker enthusiast who has often been spotted in the glam circle playing poker.
Shilpa and her husband Raj Kundra are active stakeholders in multiple poker projects, the most notable of them in the Match India Poker League, one of the country’s most sought-after poker leagues. She has undoubtedly been pivotal in helping poker become more mainstream in India.
6. Kanchan Sharma
“A passion for poker isn’t enough. You must be crystal clear on your goals and be flexible on the path to get there!”
We featured Kanchan Sharma in our Women In Poker series in May, and for a good reason. At just 26 years of age, this Agra-based poker player has made rapid strides in the game with deep runs in numerous tournaments.
If she was noticed for her poker skills at the October 2019 Baazi Poker Tour series in Goa, where she finished 11th in the ₹20K Big Bounty for ₹33,300, Sharma firmly established herself as an accomplished poker talent in 2020. Alongside winning flagships likes The Summit, Big Slick, Maverick, and Destiny, she has numerous other FT finishes to her name.
7. Natasha Fernandes
“Holding the fort at Deltin Royale!”
For players who frequent Casino Deltin Royale in Goa, Natasha Fernandes E Desa is no stranger. As Assistant Manager, Guest Relations, Poker at the Casino, Natasha is well known for capably leading her team in guest services. She is also an essential member of the poker room and has been instrumental in organizing live tournaments like DPT and WPT India.
Natasha’s jovial demeanor belies the hard work she has put in on her way up. She had joined Deltin Royale as a trainee-receptionist at the front desk in 2008. While she has worked at other casino set-ups over the years, she’s back at Casino Deltin, where she aspires to work hard and move into the Head of the Department position in the coming years.
8. Kachnar Sinha
“Bringing about a gender balance to the game!”
Delhi-based Kachnar Sinha has been playing poker for some time now. She first discovered poker at the tender age of 12, on Miniclip. Over the years, Kachnar has put in the time to study the game and turned pro during the lockdown months in 2020.
In a short time, she has fared quite well at the online felts with FT finishes in numerous flagship tourneys and a good run in the cash games. Her advice? “Always trust the process but never compare yourself to any other player as everyone’s journey is different. It is also important to not let things that are out of your control bother you as all the work you put away from the table, the study, the lifestyle, and the mindset shows in your game!”
9. Anita Hassanandani
“Silver screen’s Poker Queen!”
TV actress Anita Hassanandani is not only drop-dead gorgeous, but she is also sharp with her moves in poker. Anita is one of the most notable faces to have popularized the game through her celebrity status. She was part of the Harman Baweja’s team Mumbai All-Stars that won Season 1 of the Match IPL in 2017. The avid poker enthusiast has often been spotted at live poker tournaments in Goa.
Anita started actively playing online poker during the lockdown months and even won a flagship tourney on Spartan Poker for a whopping ₹5.50 Lakhs!
10. Attreyee Khasnabis
“Penning India’s poker history!”
And making the cut as one of the top 10 most popular “Women in Poker” features of 2020 is PokerGuru’s very own Attreyee Khasnabis Ganguly. The Kolkata-resident, who is a graduate in Political Science and International Relations from Jadavpur University, has a fiery pen and has, in a short time, created a name for herself as a credible poker journalist. Attreyee has many followers in the poker community who appreciate her spirited commentary and reports on different issues.
Elaborating on her journey in the industry, she says, “When I had joined the industry back in 2018, poker was battling quite a few demons. There were a limited number of live tournaments, and even the monstrous guaranteed online tourneys that are a staple nowadays were few and far between. In the past two years, I have witnessed the revival of two popular live series, India Poker Championship and BPT, and seen the meteoric rise in turnouts and prize pools of tournaments as well.”
Attreyee recognizes herself as a poker observer rather than a poker player and feels she’s uniquely positioned to have an unbiased view of the industry. Her ultimate poker goal? Covering the WSOP in Las Vegas someday!