The Delhi Panthers captured first place in the inaugural season of India Poker Sports League, but the real winners might have been the originators of the concept, Amit Burman, Anuj Gupta and Pranav Bagai.
The trio built on the idea of poker as a team endeavor and came up with a 12-team association that would play a series of online and live tournaments. The first season culminated with a five-day event that saw the 9-member Delhi Panthers victorious.
Bagai reflected on the first season and was satisfied with the outcome.
“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,” Bagai said. “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.”
It took about six months to form the association, but despite the hurried nature, there was solid management and impressive sponsors. Gupta co-owns Adda52.com, India’s largest online poker site and was able to attract high-profile players from in and out of the country.
Professional Akash Malik was the mentor of the winning team and has four top finishes in his career. He also has seven top 10 cashes. Another participant was Calvin Lee, who won a WSOP bracelet in 2016 in the $3,000 No Limit Hold ’Em six handed tournament.
Getting corporate sponsors was key to the success of the organization and the PSL had several. Jet Airways, Bira 91, Real Activ and John Jacobs Eyewear all lent financial support.
Future Looks Bright
In addition to the four companies as title sponsors, several businesses backed the 12 teams. Also naming respected poker player, Mel Judah, who has amassed more than $3.6 million in earnings, as tournament director gave them instant credibility.
Though patterned after the Global Poker League, that was started by Alexander Dreyfus, but suspended its second season, Bagai believes his group has staying power.
“On closing our first season with a splendid grand finale, we are sure that this is definitely not a one-and-done season,” he said. “We have plans to come up with season two next year.”`