4 Minutes Read
If you have been following the growth of poker in India over the past few years, you will have noticed how poker streaming and celebrities have played a significant role in making the game more familiar to the masses. PokerStars India has been one of the key proponents on this front. The India-facing poker site’s latest endeavor brings the ‘Kings of stand-up comedy’ and YouTube sensations Samay Raina and Tanmay Bhat signing up to host ‘Sundays With PokerStars.’
The dynamic duo will be streaming poker games live on PokerStars India every Sunday on their YouTube channels. Poker lovers will get to see some wild poker action and all the funny antics they have come to expect from these ace comedians.
But, wait! There’s more. Raina and Bhat will also bring on a plethora of special guests to accompany them on these poker streams, adding a distinct and unique flavor each week.
PokerStars India has been a trendsetter in the poker industry and was one of the first poker operators to encourage its ambassadors to stream their poker sessions. Former PokerStars India ambassadors Aditya Agarwal and Muskan Sethi were some of the earliest Indian pros to start poker streaming. In fact, the brand had also appointed a streaming ambassador, Sharad Rao, in 2019.
Moreover, this is not the first time PokerStars India has roped in prominent celebrities to expand the game’s reach among the masses. Former Indian cricket captain M.S. Dhoni and critically acclaimed Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui have represented the online site in the past, starring in TV commercials and digital campaigns for the brand.
Will Samay Raina and Tanmay Bhat be able to showcase the oomph factor of poker to the masses? Let’s take a closer look at their recent exploits to find out.
From Stand-Up Comedy to Chess Streaming & Now Poker
There are hardly any millennials who wouldn’t have heard of the All India Bakchod (AIB). Tanmay Bhat was the co-founder of the now-defunct creative agency. The Mumbai-based comedy company worked with several leading Bollywood stars in its heydays, including Karan Johar, Ranveer Singh, and Arjun Kapoor.
After AIB shut shop in 2018, Tanmay Bhat shifted his focus on growing his YouTube channel and appeared as a judge on the Amazon Prime show, ‘Comicstaan.’ Currently, Bhat has 3.11 million subscribers on his fast-growing YouTube channel.
Speaking of ‘Comicstaan,’ Samay Raina was the co-winner of the second season. The YouTuber can be credited for single-handedly helping chess gain mainstream attention in India. He began streaming chess sessions on YouTube in March last year, ever since the nationwide lockdown was announced. In fact, Bhat needs to be credited for encouraging Raina to start streaming once stand-up gigs dried up during the lockdown.
In the beginning, Raina used to call his fellow stand-up comedians to play chess. Vaibhav Sethia, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Abhishek Upmanyu, and Anirban Dasgupta are some known celebrities who have appeared on Raina’s chess stream. Soon, he started organizing Online Chess Tournaments on his channel, Comedians on Board (COB), to attract audiences to chess.
His viewership got a big boost when he defeated chess YouTuber Antonio Radi, popularly known as ‘Agadmator,’ on the live stream. And he kept the audiences captivated with Indian GM Vidit Gujrathi (India #3 and captain of gold-winning Team India at the 2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad) becoming a regular on Raina’s streams. In addition, Raina collaborated with Chessbase India’s Sagar Shah (IM), with the duo starting a series titled ‘Improving Chess’ where Raina would take chess lessons from Shah.
One of the main highlights of Raina’s streaming journey was when the five-time Chess World Champion Viswanathan Anand made an appearance for a charity stream. Raina has also streamed chess with Grand Master`s Anish Giri, Teimour Radjabov, Baskaran Adhiban, Emil Sutovsky, and International Master’s Tania Sachdev and Sagar Shah.
He has raised substantial amounts of money through his charity streams for various causes, including help for waste pickers and relief for West Bengal and Assam flood victims and COVID charity relief.
When Raina did his first chess stream, 40 people logged on to watch. Today, his YouTube channel has 681,000 subscribers, with around 25,000 people watching him play at any given moment.
As a mind sport, many parallels can be drawn between chess and poker. Poker players will argue that poker is a much more entertaining sport for players and spectators alike, and that’s precisely what PokerStars India is banking on with this new collaboration.
Are you excited to watch the new weekend poker streams with the comedy kings? Well, given the comic timing and experience of Raina and Bhat, this promises to be a laugh riot and a fun watch for all poker enthusiasts. We won’t be surprised if even the pros take out time from the serious Sunday grind to watch these streams.
If you’re new to poker and don’t have an account on PokerStars India yet, hurry up and join and get a chance to win a free entry to the ₹10,000 ‘I’M IN’ Daily Freerolls.
It’s the perfect opportunity to play real-money poker for free. You don’t even need to make a real-money deposit. Just create an account, complete mobile verification, and fill out the Real Money Form to unlock your free rewards. You’ll receive a reusable ticket to ‘I’M IN’ Daily Freerolls. These will award ₹10,000 in cash prizes daily.
Are you in?
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