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Most-likely the biggest-ever tournament series to be hosted by India is merely three days away! Yes, we are talking about the one and only, World Poker Tour (WPT) India. Undoubtedly, one of the most eagerly anticipated series for the domestic fraternity this year, WPT India’s return to Goa has created quite a buzz in the poker circuit!
Kicking off on November 13, WPT India 2018 will offer a plethora of eight events, with buy-in ranging from ₹20,000 to ₹1 Lakh. The showstopper will be the ₹55,000 Main Event which will run from November 16 to the final day of the series, November 19.
2018 WPT India Schedule:
The inaugural WPT India series, which ran from November 7 to 13, 2017, had been hugely successful, attracting over 1400 entries with an impressive 527 entries in the Main Event alone. The Main Event was eventually won by Vikas Mantri who pocketed ₹60.30 Lakhs for his win. Other big winners at the debut series were Rajnish Kumar (High Roller Winner for ₹36.38 Lakhs) and Sundeep Tulsyan (Superstack NLH for ₹19 Lakhs).
The only event which came close to the success of the 2017 WPT India Main Event was the ₹35K Main Event at the 2018 Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) July edition, which pulled in 457 entries and crowned a winner in Awnish Singh, who added ₹35.04 Lakhs to his bankroll.
Talking to PokerGuru about expected participation, Business Head of Poker at Deltin Royale, Manish Adnani said, “We are all set for the second edition of WPT India. We expect the field size to be marginally bigger with a 20% increase in participation.”
Adnani has been the point man for all major tournaments that have been hosted at the Deltin Royale for some time now, and this exposure has certainly made him an experienced hand. On arrangements at the gaming arena during WPT India, Adnani said, “Usually when players enter, they have to pay ₹3,000 if they are not part of our royalty program, Club Deltin. But this year what we have planned is we have put down a response form, in which we’re getting the players who want to be participating on daily basis listed. Players who are on the list don’t have pay this ₹3,000. This increases the pace of registration and entry process and is a lot less inconvenient to the player. So, from that perspective, this will be our standard practice going forward.”
Discussing on how Deltin Royale will manage the huge crowds that are expected to turn up at the series, Adnani stated, “One whole floor has been dedicated to this tournament and the allocated cash games will be on another level, so the tournaments will not be interrupted in case more cash games are played.” He further added, “But the biggest change is that the Main Event now is 1A, 1B and 1C, and the 1C structure is already Turbo therefore it gives us a lot of manoeuvrability to accommodate up to 320 players per day for the Main Event.”
He mentioned the changes that have been made to the schedule. “The Omaha event has been replaced with a 6-Max Shootout which will add new flavour to the robust schedule.”
Explaining the decision, Adnani said, “We have had Omaha as a unique event in the past, but participation has never been very consistent, so we did not find any point in our promoting the format.”
“We have continued to refine our practice of organising poker tournaments and we want to keep refining, make the series memorable and enjoyable for players while they are aspiring to become champions,” Adnani concluded.
As an international brand, WPT is associated with several top-notch talents and the brand’s decision to branch out in the Asia-Pacific region has led to local players being able to mingle with these poker experts.
WPT Live Events Specialist Danny McDonagh needs no introduction. He is the man behind the upcoming PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship (PSPC), which is being touted as one of the biggest events of next year and is slated to take place in Bahamas in January 2019.
An expert Tournament Director of international repute, McDonagh shared his excitement regarding the series and told PokerGuru, “Flying into Goa on Sunday and very much looking forward to WPT India. Deltin and Adda52 have done a great job throughout 2018 broadening the poker base in India so I am very hopeful that the WPT India Main Event will set a new player number record for the country.”
He further added, “And very much looking forward to being on the tournament floor and catching up with all the India regs.”
WPT Director Ging Masinda also shared her enthusiasm about the upcoming series on Twitter.
India is one of the most interesting places I’ve visited. The culture, the food, and the people are fascinating. In a few days, I will be heading back to Goa for the #WPTIndia powered by @Adda52Live at the Deltin Royale. Festival starts Nov 13 ?? https://t.co/Texpu8bb2V #Namaste pic.twitter.com/O22tdLEm53
— Ging Masinda ? (@GingMasinda) November 8, 2018
WPT, itself, tweeted about the upcoming festival.
#WPTIndia starts on November 16. Make sure to read Danny McDonagh’s latest blog to see how this year’s event is a perfect way to close #WPTAsiaSwing. https://t.co/iRMzMJU42n pic.twitter.com/yvNQ2fCILw
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) November 7, 2018
The increase in the popularity of poker in Asia and the Asia-Pacific circuits has led to the top poker brands looking at the region with more interest. In that vein, the WPT in July 2018 announced its ‘Asia Swing’ tour following the success of WPT New Zealand.
On the heels of the announcement of WPT Japan, WPT Korea, it also made an announcement for WPT Vietnam and WPT India.
In India, the inaugural WPT India stop was a smashing hit and a second season was the natural follow through.
The WPT had also announced an all-expenses paid package for the player who performs the best across the WPT Japan, WPT Korea and WPT Vietnam stops, which includes buy-in and accommodations to the WPT India Main Event. Additionally, all four stops were eligible for the WPT Asia-Pacific Player of the Year competition.
The WPT’s announced increase of the number of scheduled stops in Asia-Pacific region evoked a favourable response from the Asian poker fraternity, particularly the Indian contingent. We saw a bigger number of Indian players reach Incheon in South Korea to participate in the WPT Korea, and participation numbers grew from there on at the WPT Vietnam where Team India performed exceedingly well.
The first-ever WPT Global Teams event was a special event held at WPT Korea and Team India was represented by a star-studded group of pros comprising of Amit Jain, Dhaval Mudgal and Kunal Patni, captained by World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2018 gold bracelet winner Nikita Luther. Team India’s journey in the tournament was very swingy but they managed to reach Day 3. In the end, Team India collected 186 points and placed 11th. Since only the top nine teams were to make it to the Teams Final, Team India, along with Team UK and Team Norway were eliminated.
Indian challengers participated in greater numbers in WPT Vietnam and fared much better in the series. Seasoned pro Sumit Sapra was the first Indian who came incredibly close to winning a title when he finished runner-up in the Welcome Event for VND 163,720,000 (₹5.06 Lakhs). But it was MadOverPoker pro Zarvan Tumboli who won his maiden WPT title in the Ho Chi Minh Cup and banked VND 246,950,000 (₹7.70 Lakhs) in the process.
Team India’s dazzling performance did not end there. Delhi-based musician turned poker pro and a former PokerGuru Young Gun Dhaval Mudgal proved his mettle and trailblazed to the top of the WPT Vietnam Main Event and walked away with his career-best score worth a whopping VND 2,427,580,000 (₹76.02 Lakhs)!
WPT India’s return to the luxurious Casino Deltin Royale in Goa is anticipated to beat the numbers of its predecessor. However, besides the thrilling action that the series is expected to offer, the weather in Goa is also expected to be ideal, with warm temperatures, low humidity and generally clear skies.
While India has a booming poker scene and the game is growing in popularity by the day, WPT’s presence in the country will certainly go a long way in enhancing the progress and growth of the mind sport within the country.