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The fledgling and turbulent online poker industry in India has seen many online poker portals launching operations recently, while others have shut down unable to cope with the pressures of the competitively edged industry.
In a new and interesting turn, PokerHigh’s parent company Quatumskill Gaming and Tech Pvt. Ltd on Wednesday announced a merger with Ultimate Gaming Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which owns and operates online poker site Hippo52.
This is the second major merger in the Indian domestic gaming market. In September this year, PokerDangal had acquired online poker site PokerMet for an undisclosed amount. It was reported that PokerMet had over 10,000 registered users and 2,000 depositing players but was defunct for several months after struggling to stay afloat.
As the parent companies of the two poker sites integrate their resources, PokerHigh will also be consolidating its assets with Hippo52. The two brands, in the past have collaborated for various offline poker events and PokerHigh announced the big news on social media with the tagline – “2 platforms. 1 vision. Poker revolution in India”
According to the deal, the 1,400 users who were registered on Hippo52, along with their balances, have been transferred to PokerHigh and with the consolidated assets; the brand will now focus more on domestic and international live events.
PokerGuru spoke with PokerHigh’s founder and MD Mithun Rebello to shed some light on this deal and the future plans of the newly merged entity. Here are the excerpts.
Hi Mithun! How did the merger come about? Can you share the specifics of the deal?
As we know that PokerHigh has been around for almost three and a half years and we felt that it was that time in the market that there were a lot of players. The idea was to consolidate with a player who has a different value set then what we currently have. Currently, we have a great team which has a lot of experience in online marketing and online poker in general, we have a lot of experience since the partypoker days. Hippo52 was always interesting as the idea with them was to focus more on live promotions. So as part of the deal, we have taken all of Hippo52’s assets i.e. player base. It is not a company takeover, we have just taken their assets.
Sumit Khurana is the head of Hippo52 and the main promotor, so as part of the consolidation, he comes on-board to head the offline events along with a lot of their existing offline activities including Round Table. Sumit is a very active Round Tabler which has a huge network across India. They are heavily focusing on social development along with social and charity causes and the people associated with it are high level corporates and bring a very interesting mix of recreational poker players on the site. Most of these players are live players and it takes time for the transition from offline to online. So, by doing more offline events with Hippo52 the idea is to bring more such players into the system targeting players who currently only play live and who generally speaking are high stakes players.
What are your immediate plans with Hippo52’s assets and the team?
So, part of this will be once a month poker travel and tour. We will probably focus on Colombo for the first two or three editions and then we will move to other locations across the world. The experience will not just be about playing poker but it will also be combined with poker education. We believe that a poker player needs to balance many aspects and hence it is just not about playing poker but it has a lot of concepts that one can use. It will basically be an overall poker experience for the patrons of PokerHigh. We are planning our edition in Colombo and it will be in January 2019.
Even with our association with Brain Duel, we will host satellites on PokerHigh. The events will be curated and handled by Sumit along with members of PokerHigh.
Please share your vision for PokerHigh’s expansion.
PokerHigh currently has big expansion plans. We always wanted to structure ourselves really well keeping the legal scenario in mind and we have done that with our own technology as well as the Nagaland license. We always wanted to structure ourselves well and make ourselves investor friendly. So, the idea is to further expand and increase our offerings, from product to promotions and larger value tournaments.
Another key focus will always be on educating the poker players as well as to bring offline poker players to the online ecosystem.
We also reached out to Hippo52’s Sumit Khurana to know more about the new development.
Hi Sumit, please tell about the idea behind the merger.
We’d known the promoter team for quite some time before we worked together for the first time in the first licensed offline poker tournament in Delhi last year. In fact, witnessing their success in the industry and the sheer potential it had was a major factor for us to incubate Hippo52 in the first place. After the inaugural event for Brainduel at the Pullman, New Delhi, we got into discussions about growing the sport in the country and how a mixture of online and offline was crucial for making the experience truly wholesome. With our offline expertise and with the success that PokerHigh had witnessed in a more conventional online-driven model, we agreed that bringing our assets together would be a good move.
What will be your primary objective going ahead?
Our vision has always been more focused on providing an experience that is talked about and cherished by people for years to come; poker might be a mind sport but we want to show that it has a lot of heart too, and we’ve always strived to put that experience in a package to showcase it to the world. Aligning that thought process with the growth plans PokerHigh has for the future made immediate sense to us and with this consolidation of assets we will be well-placed in our stride towards the top slot in India. We were never in this for the short run, and in keeping with our belief that most value in poker will be realized in the long term, we saw PokerHigh as the perfect partner in crime to realize it.
Please share your role and responsibilities as the Head of offline events at PokerHigh.
I love the sport of poker to death, those who know me will vouch for that, I’m sure! My role would primarily be to spread that feeling and make India fall in love with poker by offering curated experiences, both in India and internationally, and to build community engagement models that would last a lifetime for players.
This is only the beginning as far as the consolidated unit now is concerned, with all our assets aligned now we’re very confident and excited about bringing about a change that we believe the industry needs, and now look forward to making it happen together. With some further exciting announcements lined up, we’re now looking forward to set the ball rolling with this collaboration to redefine the way poker is perceived in India, and to showcase that it is not only about the game itself, it’s about much more.