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Though countless Poker tournaments live and online are organized each year, nothing can beat the pulsating excitement and frenzy that the World Series of Poker (WSOP) unleashes through the global poker map. And with the 49th WSOP knocking on the door- it starts on May 29, all roads of the poker realm are leading to Las Vegas where the world’s richest tournament series will be played out over a period of 7 weeks, with the series finally concluding on July 17.
The WSOP show this year promises to be bigger and better where tens of thousands of poker zealots will be seen competing at 78 bracelet and several side tournaments. From the home front, more than 100 poker players are expected to be in attendance, representing the country and all of them would be gunning for the big prize i.e. the coveted WSOP gold bracelet and big money. Already most hotels including the Rio are filling fast and our Indian challengers are gearing up to take on the extremely tough field of competition that WSOP will hold.
The 49th WSOP, to be hosted at Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino, will bring on star attractions like the $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop tournament that’s staging a comeback after 4 years and also a new game format – the Big Blind Ante being introduced in 8 bracelet and a few side tournaments. Now that WSOP.com has launched the software for tri-state shared liquidity packages allowing players from 3 states, namely, Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey to play on a shared online WSOP platform we can hope to see a big jump in participation numbers from within the US as well.
In Indian context, the days when only a bunch of Indians could be spotted in an international poker tournament are long gone. There’s been a phenomenal rise in the sheer number of Indians playing poker both at domestic and international arenas and no other game has grown so exponentially on the Indian soil in recent years as poker. Recognizing poker as a game of skill and strategy a big chunk of Indians have routinely started playing online and in live tournaments.
A part of this ‘revolution’ of sorts can be attributed to the active presence of various domestic online poker sites like 9stacks, PokerBaazi and Adda52 that have been instrumental in increasing the fan base for the game. To put the cherry on top, there have been round-the-clock promotions on various online platforms offering poker enthusiasts a shot at experiencing the mega series – all for a very small cost.
9stacks, the online platform that was launched in 2017 leads the way. It was one of the first poker startups to pick up funding of ₹10 Crores and came out all guns blazing with #LFG Vegas promotion – the key theme during the initial months of launch. The promotions did well and over three dozen players have already punched their ticket to Las Vegas on the site with a few weeks still to go!
On the performance chart, Indian players are proving how WSOP has become the ‘hot’ playground for them. Displaying an indomitable spirit of sportsmanship and dogged determination Team India has shown marked improvement in game strategy, selection and confidence.
Should we be hopeful of having an Indian as the World Champion at WSOP this year? The dream doesn’t look that distant now that India has in 2017 entered the bracelet winner clubs after Aditya Sushant and Nipun Java got their hands on the bracelet and Java went on to win a second one to enter another rare club!
Team India, with veterans like PokerStars Team Pro Aditya ‘Intervention’ Agarwal, who has been the pillar of poker as a sport in India, and familiar names like Aditya Sushant, Rahul Byrraju, Amit Jain, Shashank Jain, Kunal Patni, Sahil Agarwal, Raghav Bansal and Akash Malik, are all poised to make their mark, yet again.
Adding up to the expected participant roll call are female players like Nikita Luther and First Ladies award winner Muskan Sethi. Then there are promising stars like Antony Pereira who won a Rio Deepstack event at the 2016 WSOP, and regulars like PokerBaazi Team pros Jasven Saigal and Vikram Kumar, who are all likely to put in some volume at this year’s mega series.
This year at WSOP the $10,000 Main Event will kick off on July 2 and the final table will begin on July 12. A look down the memory lane shows that Aditya Agarwal was the only Indian player to cash at the WSOP Main Event in 2013 and 2014.
In 2015, participation of Indian players continued to grow with Kunal Patni and Akash Malik joining Aditya Agarwal in cashing at the Main Event. 2016 witnessed a rapid increase in players from Indian poker circuit making it to Vegas for WSOP but only 3 players, Aditya Sushant, Raghav Bansal and Aditya Agarwal picked up scores at the most prestigious poker tournament in the world, the WSOP Main Event. 2017 was a breakout year for Indian challengers who cashed it in many events. Two players, Paawan Bansal and Rahul Byrraju cashed the Main Event for $53,247 each.
In the 2017 WSOP we saw the largest Indian contingent pitting their skills on the WSOP felts. Apart from bringing home India’s first two gold bracelets, 2 Indians cashed in the Main Event and over 11 players cashed in various other tournaments.
Aditya ‘intervention’ Agarwal topped the list with 11 cashes with total WSOP earnings of $87,762 and his biggest cash came in Event #12 $1,500 NLHE where he finished ninth for $30,773. Aditya Sushant cashed in four events, pocketing his biggest cash in Event #66 $1,500 NLHE where he finished 8th for $44,255. Amit Jain cashed in three events and his biggest score came in Event #47 $1,500 NLHE-Monster Stack where he finished 44th and won $24,717. Samay Parikh, Nikita Luther and Shashank Jain also picked up three scores each, Kunal Patni, Akash Malik and Apoorva Goel collected two cashes each, while Dhaval Mudgal and Shuchi Chamaria picked up one cash.
We also saw many Indian players making their first foray at the grand stage. Shailesh Nainani, Rohan Dhawan and Varun Gupta tasted the intimidating grandeur of WSOP for the first time in 2017.
We take a look at the top Indian poker stars and their top scores at WSOP till date.
Clearly Indians have increasingly done well at the series, and with more numbers the scores are bound to come. It is going to be a crazy summer at Las Vegas and a lot of fun for us railbirds back home who will be cheering on our challengers making the country proud at the BIG STAGE.
Stay tuned on PokerGuru for exclusive daily updates and recaps from WSOP 2018 all summer!