In today’s Women In Poker feature, we bring to the forefront the story of Sharon Bhagat, Player Relations Personnel with India’s leading poker brand, Spartan Poker. A graduate in Sociology from St. Andrews, Mumbai, Bhagat, had a brief stint as an Art & Craft teacher in a Santa Cruz School before her life skewed towards poker. She was referred to Spartan Poker by a friend who works there and joined the brand as a Customer Service Executive in 2019.
In the nearly three years she’s been with the company, Bhagat has moved up the ranks. Her encouraging and positive attitude got noticed, and she was hand-picked to handle Player Relations for VIP players. “It’s been almost three years, and it’s been a very great journey so far. I had no clue about poker when I joined, and there’s been a lot to learn, right from the game, to understanding the aspects, strategies that players use in the industry – on the table and off the tables in the live industry. So yeah, I’m enjoying my time in this industry!”
As an integral member of the brand’s Player Relations team, Bhagat has a committed and daunting role to play, and she does it remarkably well! She’s effectively the eyes and ears of the company for a segment of VIP players. And yes, we can boast Indian players are highly professional and polite. Still, sometimes it is not unheard of, of a player getting tilted over an issue with the site, and when they do, there’s Bhagat to handle their problems, being there round the clock to support the players or conveying the brand’s promotional offers. “Players have been patient with me, whether its promotions or giveaways, they listen very patiently, and so even I strive to hear them out and resolve their issues,” she says.
Bhagat brings to the table her approachable personality to connect with the players. No matter what time of the day it is, she has made sure she is available to handle player queries. But while her job keeps her on the toes most days, it’s the never-sleeping vibe of live events that she loves. “My first experience with a live tournament series was the India Poker Championship in January 2020. I met a lot of players whom I had until then only spoken over the phone.” The IPC January edition is also Bhagat’s most memorable career experience.
She was equally involved with the online edition of the series, the IOPC, and the Final Table Series (FTS), where she maintained seamless communication with the players and the winners till the end. Bhagat remembers, “It was a great experience, staying up till late night to connect with the final table players or the winner.”
What she likes about the industry is how poker is a very competitive sport, and each player has a different skill set. “The high-value players that I speak to – Despite having so many things on their plate, they are very dedicated to poker and are usually grinding hours. So, it is really amazing to know that people have so much interest in poker.”
She points out – “This game is a competition in a controlled environment where you survive, or you don’t depend on how you perform, your emotions don’t matter, and that’s what I like about it.”
And what she doesn’t like about poker is that the game is still largely considered taboo in India, a public opinion due to which many players hide that they play the game from their families. She feels that poker as a sport needs to be highlighted more to break this taboo.
Bhagat agrees that the industry is still very male-dominated. Lauding PokerGuru for the initiative taken to feature women in the poker sector, Bhagat emphasizes that the industry needs to know and accept that women play poker. “The initiative PokerGuru has taken with this feature shows encourages women to show off their skill sets and compete with the best in the industry. There’s always competition, and women want to compete with the rest of the crowd on an equal footing just as they want to compete with each other,” she says.
Bhagat suggests training programs at feasible locations for women, offering them a freeroll opportunity to participate and play poker to encourage more of them to join.
She observes that the poker industry is vast, and the game involves a lot of strategies, math, calculations, etc., where you always need to be self-motivated. But in this competitive environment, Bhagat has found full support and motivation from her team. “My team has always motivated me, they have always been beneficial to me, so I am grateful.”
Bhagat says her senior Nasir Patel has always been a pillar of support and constant guidance.
Bhagat sums up the mantra she follows while working as a part of the online poker industry – “I have heard this from most people, your efforts don’t matter, but your results do.”
Her advice to women already working in the poker industry or looking to join the sector – “Do whatever you want, do it with all your heart. Even though you are doing something else in life, it doesn’t matter. If there’s something you really want to do, then go ahead and chase your dream!”
Kudos to this powerhouse for her unrelenting energy and enthusiasm to contribute to the poker industry!