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The PokerGuru Show: Season 2 Episode 4 Ft. Manish Adnani, Vasim Rozani & Ramesh Rao Thotapalli

The PokerGuru Show Season 2 Episode 4 Cover
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  • Attreyee Khasnabis November 3, 2021
  • 5 Minutes Read

We’re back with another episode of “The PokerGuru Show,” and this time, we put the spotlight on live poker rooms in Goa.

Live poker has been gradually reviving, with Goa casinos finally getting the green light from the state government to reopen on September 20. We thought the time was ripe to check out how the poker rooms in the coastal state have been faring. And who better to ask than the poker room operators of three of the most popular casinos in Goa, namely, Manish Adnani, Vasim Rozani, and Ramesh Rao Thotapalli.

While none of these three need introductions, we’ll still share some information on their work in the industry.

One of the most experienced live poker operators in the country, Manish Adnani, recently took over the operations at PokerBaazi LIVE poker room onboard Casino Majestic Pride. The former Business Head (Poker) at Delta Corp, Adnani is one of the country`s most well-known names in live poker operations.

Manish J Adnani
Manish Adnani

 

Vasim Rozani has been handling the reigns of the Spartan Poker LIVE poker room onboard the Casino Big Daddy for a long time now. He, too, is an industry veteran, having previously helmed the poker operations at the Deltin Royale Poker Room.

Vasim Rozani
Vasim Rozani

 

Rounding out the trio is Ramesh Rao Thotapalli, who took charge of the Casino Pride 1 poker room back in March. While the 2021 DPTX Main Event champion is relatively new to poker operations, what he lacks in experience, he makes up with his uncanny networking skills and competitive spirit. Even though this is Thotapalli’s first time running a live poker room, he is an experienced poker event organizer who has organized successful cash game festivals in Kolkata and Sikkim.

Ramesh Rao Thotapalli
Ramesh Rao Thotapalli

 

This dynamic trio joins host Arpit Jain aka ‘Chhota Machhi’ to share insights into the current state of affairs onboard Goa casinos, the live poker scene in the coastal state, the future of live poker, and much more.

Watch the complete episode below.

 

Here is a timeline of the episode highlights.

2:40 PokerGuru host Arpit Jain introduces Manish Adnani, Vasim Rozani, and Ramesh Rao Thotapalli.

2:55 Rozani talks about the casinos reopening at 50% capacity and how the poker rooms have been hosting games across stakes. He confirmed that they have been following all the state government-issued COVID-19 guidelines. Adnani, who has recently taken over the reins at PokerBaazi LIVE poker room, and Thotapalli, overseeing the Casino Pride 1 poker room for the past seven months, reiterate Rozani’s statements.

5:01 Rozani shares how the footfall in the casinos, despite the 50% capacity caveat, has been encouraging. He said that people are thrilled to see each other and play live after such a long gap.

6:45 Thotapalli and Rozani run through the steps being taken by them to follow strict safety guidelines:

  1. Casino and poker room staff training
  2. COVID-19 vaccination certificates of all patrons are being checked
  3. Keeping a count of how many people are on the floor
  4. Employing additional staff to ensure social distancing is being maintained,

 

Adnani also states that besides the casino management following protocol, it is also the players’ responsibility to follow the rules.

9:18 Rozani confirms the food and beverages arrangement onboard casinos has not changed. Thotapalli chipped in with a punchline, saying that “there is no COVID-19 special menu card as such.” He adds that guests are expected to comply with the casino management, especially when asked to wear masks.

11:40 Thotapalli reveals how most of the casino staff were retained during the lockdown months. Even though some of them went back to their hometown and villages due to the lack of work during the lockdown, others stayed back and waited for the casinos to reopen. Rozani reveals that the salaries of staff who remained in Goa were paid in full during the lockdown months, and the casino reached out to help out their employees with whatever they needed. Adnani shares that the core team at PokerBaazi LIVE was kept on the payroll. He, too, stated that several team members left Goa during the pandemic.

13:35 Adnani shares his plans for PokerBaazi LIVE, stating his first endeavor is to transform the team into a well-oiled unit where they can execute various events and offer travel packages to guests. Adnani adds he plans to host cash game events and a few tournaments before the year-end.

15:21 Thotapalli talks about how he wishes to live stream high-stakes cash games at the Casino Pride 1 poker room. The only thing missing is the legal aspect and willingness of the players. He informs that the setup is ready, and the live streams may begin soon after seeking legal opinions.

16:45 Rozani shares his team`s readiness to bring back the IPC but is holding back just to be sure that the third wave does not break out. He intends to wait till the end of 2021, and given things remain the same, dates for IPC will be announced soon.

17:23 Adnani talks about PokerBaazi’s flagship properties, i.e., the Baazi Poker Tour (BPT) and the National Poker Series (NPS), and speaks about promoting both as intellectual properties (IPs) and even creating a few more in the coming days.

19:20 Talking about the challenges that operators will face while hosting live tournaments, Thotapalli astutely adds finding hotel rooms in Goa from October to December would be difficult. Also, providing flight tickets is a challenge since they come at a premium which is a considerable cost. Rozani chimes in, stating how the most significant challenge faced by their team is to accommodate 1,000-1,500 players since it is an offshore casino.

22:45 Adnani adds that all operators need to be cautious, for in case there is a COVID-19 breakout during any of the events, it’s not going to speak well on any operator.

23:42: When asked to share a message for poker players who are itching to travel to Goa for poker, Rozani says, “If you are in Goa, do not miss Big Daddy. And if you are in Big Daddy, you can’t miss the Spartan LIVE poker room to have the best poker experience.”

Being the funny man that he is, Thotapalli adds, “I am the underdog here, so please come support the Casino Pride poker room. We have enough space. The amount of real estate we have for poker is sufficient, and we can’t call each other competition. We are not competitors; we are just doing it together. Goa is open. The government is supportive, and we are ready to host you. See you at the tables.”

Keeping it simple, Adnani says, “If you love poker, just move to Goa. There are a lot of options here which will give you access to live poker. Of course, PokerBaazi LIVE would love to host you guys. The fact of the matter is that today Goa has somehow become the live player’s hub. Back in the day, even with poker rooms available, people did not travel as often. The culture was different. But today, I don’t think there is any scope for any player to be unsatisfied with the three of us. If there is an IPC one week, 15 days later, there will be a series on Majestic Pride. Player jayega kahan? Better to move here only.”

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