Dehli Panthers Win Indian Premier League
The Delhi Panthers have won the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League. The team took down Rs 1.15 Crores (approx. $225,000) at the finale on May 28, 2017.
A Roaring Success
When the concept was first announced nobody quite knew what to make of it. Was this just another Global Poker League dressed up differently?
The architects of the league, Anuj Gupta, Amit Burman, and Pranav Bagai came up with the idea that poker works very well as a team sport, and a new association would have a lot of potential to grow into something much bigger.
Over six months the teams were put together, including management and sponsors, and then it was just a matter of waiting for the start date. The final rules were that a 12-team league would play a series of tournaments, both online and live, over five days. Also, naming Australian veteran Mel Judah as tournament director was a bit of a masterstroke. Judah has more than $3.6 million in live tournament winnings and two World Series of Poker bracelets to his name, and adds a lot of credibility to the whole set up.
Pranav Bagai told the press
“The journey of the league has been a roller coaster ride and initially many could not believe that the league would materialize in to something as large as other sports leagues in the country. The never seen before structures and massive prize pool kept the adrenaline rush going for the players along with a chance to make some serious money. On closing our first season with a splendid grand finale, we are sure that this is definitely not a one-and-done season. We have plans to come up with season two next year.”
The final showdown at Deltin Royale Casino, Goa, was a tense affair. At the end of day two the Dehli Panther were in second place, but soon dropped out of the top three. On the final day, some particularly strong displays put them back in top spot, narrowly defeating second placed Mumbai Anchors. The Anchors still picked up around $150,000 for their efforts; not bad for five days work.
One point of note over the five days was the heads-up battle between US live pro Alex Torelli and Sam Razavi from England. On the IPL Facebook live stream there was more than 2.8 million viewers at one point. That in itself proves that this is no fly by night event, and we should all look forward to seeing what they have in store for us next year.
With the Global Poker League attracting much more attention from the media it’s easy to downplay the achievements of the IPL, but we shouldn’t make that mistake. Along with China, India is one of the next big hopes for the poker community. This kind of positive media exposure is exactly what attracts new players to the game.
It’s not all plain sailing, though, as local government lawmakers seem unable to make up their minds about whether or not poker should be legal in the first place. Is it a skill game, or just pure gambling? In the state of Telangana, local officials are reportedly looking to change the status of both poker and gin rummy back to non-skill gambling. The Telangana Gaming Act 9174 threatens to fine offenders 5000 rupees (approx. $77) for playing online matka, sports betting, or online poker and gin rummy. Offenders prosecuted for a second time will find themselves facing a stay behind bars plus a much bigger fine.
This isn’t what we’ve come to expect with the recent positive changes in Indian gambling laws over recent years. Hopefully this is an isolated incident which can be put down to typical differences of opinion between different regional governments.
In May, we reported that the World Poker Tour had signed a deal with Adda52.com to partner up and bring the WPTDeepStacks tournament format to India. Anuj Gupta isn’t just only one of the founding members of the Indian Poker Sports League, he is also the CEO and founder of Adda52.com, India’s largest poker website. He told the press
“WPTDeepStacks India will be an exceptionally unique event since the tournament will be held onboard a floating ship. As poker’s premier mid-major tournament circuit, WPTDeepStacks is the perfect fit for the Indian poker community.”
News about this tie up was so positive, around the globe, that everybody should now be delighted another five events have now been added to the schedule. The tour doesn’t arrive at the Deltin Royale Casino until November, so Indian fans of deep stack play now have plenty of opportunity to get some practice in before everybody arrives for their home round.
In August, the players will make their way to Villamoura in Portugal for a €1,100 buy-in €200k GTD Main Event. Barely a week after packing up they will then need to be ready for action in Brussels, Belgium. The Grand Casino Brussels VIAGE is one of the plushest casinos in Europe, and has recently hosted a World Series of Poker Circuit event.
Then, at the end of September, for the first time in WPT history we head to the sands of Morroco for an event in Africa. The Casino de Marrakesh has teamed up with French gambling powerhouse PMU.fr to come up with something special to encourage players to be more willing to play events in countries they wouldn’t normally visit.
In October, it’s back to the canals of Amsterdam, before the season ends with a festival at Deauville, France, again partnering with PMU.fr. This comes a few weeks after the WPTDeepStacks India, so, if as expected the event is a rip-roaring success, we can reasonably expect a large Indian contingent to make the trip to France for a massive end of season party. There should be plenty to celebrate if everything goes as planned, particularly in India. Introducing an international series to the sub-continent has great potential to unleash a wave of new players clamouring to get involved, so they can show the rest of the world what they’re made of.