In today’s Throwback Thursday post, we walk down memory lane with one of India’s early poker visionaries and ambassadors, Manish Adnani! Currently running the show as the Business Head (Poker) at Delta Corp, the 49-year-old is credited to have played a crucial role in pushing live poker to where it is today.
Equipped with a B.Com degree, Adnani is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer who graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Economics from Jai Hind College in 1994. In fact, in 1993, he started his own tech company, Overdrive Technologies, which was a pioneering venture in building PCs! Along the way, he ran a web design agency and also focussed on his boardroom integration venture providing office automation for clients. Over time, he pivoted from the PC business and started partnering with international brands- importing and distributing tech products in India.
Today, he is an unmissable face at all live events on board the Deltin Royale and has to be credited with playing a significant role in advancing the live tournament experience in India.
On the personal front, Adnani has two kids. While his daughter lives in New York, his elder son is pursuing his entrepreneurial ambitions.
In a tete-a-tete with PokerGuru, we got chatting with Adnani reminiscing about his decade and a half old poker journey of how a small community of players has blown up to become one of the fastest-growing poker markets in the world. Here are excerpts of the conversation (some of which didn’t make the video cut).
Q❓ What were you doing before you got into poker, and how were you introduced to the game?
While running my company, I would simultaneously play a lot of poker. In fact, I was one of the few who got into the game very early and wanted to learn to play the game professionally. My journey started in 2003-04 at the Cricket Club of India, where I heard about a game happening. I had been practicing playing online through play chips and free money since being introduced to it in Australia. I wanted to play tourneys organized at restaurants, and a bunch of poker aficionados would gather around: playing, drinking, and hanging out. It was a tournament format in a very crude form, and we ran many rake-free tourneys between 2006-07 for poker enthusiasts to come to play and enjoy themselves. It was mainly just simple freezeout tournaments where people would just chill and watch others play after busting out. This is where I also got into organizing poker tournaments.
Q❓ Tell us about your venture Poker Planet?
With my partners like Ankur Dewani & Pranav Bhatija, we did everything that one could possibly do. From providing cards and poker felts to casinos to serving the poker community in a small but impactful manner. These were indeed the early seeds sown for poker in India.
Q❓ You have been the Business Head of Poker for Delta Corp since 2016. What would be some memorable achievements or milestones during this time?
We initiated the Baazi Poker Tournament where we ensured that people got the whole final table area vibe lacking at other events. It was a completely different ballgame and a great eyeopener altogether compared to the events in Mumbai, as this was on a national level. Later, we started the Deltin Poker Tournament, where I met many people, got to know their expectations, and received feedback. With DPT, we experimented with poker tournaments in Goa. Back then, prize pools were around 1-2 Cr, and we have seen tremendous growth both in terms of entries and prizes to the brand itself.
Taking Indian poker to the world, live streaming it, setting up incredible environments for players to experience. Also, bringing people behind the game was another important aspect- have young blood enter the industry and fill in the ancillary spaces that would be prominent in the coming decade with the growing poker circuit and be a part of all the action that goes on behind the scenes.
Q❓ How has the pandemic affected your life?
This year has been devastating for Goa, and it’s been tough on the economy, especially the live gaming sector. But things look bright as the cases have come down drastically.
Q❓ What are your immediate goals and long-term plans?
There is no second-guessing. It is to take poker to the next level in the country! Over the last five years, we have achieved a lot, but there is still a lot more to cover. Also, personally, it’s to imagine ways to enhance the experience for players. That was one of the main reasons behind the launch of DPTXpress.
Q❓What have been some of the best takeaways from the poker industry for you?
It’s the people- the players, the patrons, the staff, and everyone else who has contributed to the game’s growth! I can proudly say that the most significant takeaway during my time in Goa is the interactions I’ve had with these people and how they have helped the game grow.
If you have been to play poker in Goa and visited Deltin Royale, chances are you would have come across Manish Adnani. If you have, do give a shoutout to the gentleman in the comments!