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In the first month of the New Year comes the news of one of Goa’s oldest offshore casinos, the Deltin JAQK, getting a new poker room operator in Priyank Mehta (cover image)! A second-generation diamantaire, Mehta is relatively new to the poker industry. Still, he is brimming with ideas to revamp the Deltin JAQK into an establishment high of social vibes. Along with his partner, Abhishek Patni, Mehta has co-founded the Amazon Poker Group (APG), which is in charge of the casino’s day-to-day poker operations.
Poker room management changing hands is not a new thing, and often times a new operator brings a different vibe to the venue. In his first major event since taking charge of the Deltin JAQK poker room, Mehta has announced a cash game festival, The Poker Social, from January 22 to 24. Emphasizing the importance of creating a USP for the venue, Mehta envisions re-branding the Deltin JAQK poker room as a ‘social spot’ and launching a live poker series, Indian Poker Tour (IPT).
Since mid-March last year, casinos in both Goa and Sikkim had shut down in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a little over three months since live poker returned to Goa after the state government gave the green light to the casino industry to open its doors on November 1. Since then, most casinos in Goa have re-opened their poker rooms, and a few cash game festivals have also run at the different offshore casinos.
Deltin JAQK – A Cherished Legacy
Deltin JAQK (erstwhile Casino Royale) has a cherished legacy. In the heydays of Goa’s live poker scene, before the TDS clampdown on live tournament earnings brought a screeching halt to the live tournament action, Casino Royale ruled the Mandovi. The casino’s poker room was the venue of choice for all the most-popular live tours. Between 2010 and 2013, it has played host to numerous flagship events like the Casino Royale Cup, the first-ever APT Asian Series Goa, PokerGuru Tour, IPC, IPS, etc. The casino lost some of its sheen once the Deltin Royale was moved onto the bigger MV Horseshoe in 2013.
Deltin JAQK has hosted two editions of the Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) Xpress in the last two years. The bigger tournament stops like the DPT, DPT Colossus, and the World Poker Tour (WPT) India have been hosted onboard the more spacious Deltin Royale. The casino was slated to run the third DPTX series in March 2020, but the series got canceled due to the prevailing pandemic.
PokerGuru caught up with the man of the hour, Priyank Mehta, to know more about his plans and vision for the Deltin JAQK. Here are the excerpts.
Introduction to Poker
An M.Sc. graduate, Mehta entered the poker industry two years ago, although his poker journey started much before that. Talking about his introduction to poker, Mehta revealed, “My poker introduction happened because of Facebook when I started playing Zynga. Eventually, I landed up meeting more people who liked playing poker live. The turning point came during demonetization when work was affected, and I had enough free time to explore this sport with a friend, Abhishek Patni. He hails from New York and has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. Eventually, we decided to partner in this venture.”
Taking Over the Reins of the Deltin JAQK Poker Room & Future Plans
Sharing the details of how the deal for taking over the management of the Deltin JAQK poker room came about, he said, “We’ve been talking to Deltin for about six months but eventually decided to take the plunge with a great brand like Deltin Casinos. Before this, my only experience was only as a player. This is my first time being an operator under the brand APG – Amazon Poker Group.”
So, what are his plans for the future of the Deltin JAQK? Mehta wants to revamp the Deltin JAQK poker room as a “social place where players can come and have a good time.”
“Poker doesn’t have to be so serious. At the same time, we want Deltin JAQK to be an international hub for players from all over the world,” he added.
The tournament series in question will be the Indian Poker Tour (IPT), while the Poker Social will continue as the poker room’s cash game property. “We plan to have three editions of the IPT. Manish Adnani will be designing and promoting this property along with APG. The IPT’s core objective is to create a tournament series for the freshers and the upcoming players. These events will be aimed at giving players an international standard playing experience.”
The Revival of Live Poker
Discussing the possibility of hosting live poker tournaments, Mehta stated, “Our endeavor is to have three tournaments in a year with the aim to grow from here, as it’s a lot of value for a player and helps build bankrolls too. In fact, we plan to have our first tournament by mid-February 2021.”
With two COVID-19 vaccines, the Covishield and Covaxin, being deployed following the COVID vaccination drive that commenced on January 16, there is a possibility that the pandemic situation will come under control soon. Shedding more light on the situation in Goa, Mehta added, “It seems like things are almost back-to-normal in Goa, looking at the bustling crowds in the casinos. But whoever is still under resistance will surely start their travels by April, I feel.”
The Poker Social
Powered by the Amazon Poker Group (APG), The Poker Social cash game festival is the first major event to be run at Deltin JAQK this year. The three-day cash game festival runs from January 22 to 24, promising exciting NLH and PLO cash game action for the ₹100/₹200 and ₹200/₹500 players.
The new poker room management has put up a plethora of facilities for those planning to attend the festival, such as:
>Free hotel stay
>Free flight and airport transfer
>Free VIP entry
>Surprise gifts daily
>High hand rewards
>Free food and drinks
For more information regarding the upcoming cash game festival, you can contact the poker room at 8806663510/8369980249.