Nassau (Bahamas): The great Indian poker hope of winning the Rs 36 crore stake at Bahamas has folded. All the eight Indians and several Indian-origin players have been busted out of the tournament organised by online leader Pokerstars. The last Indian-origin person fighting for the top slot, Ajay Chabra, bowed out on Tuesday evening on day three as only 38 players were left in the fray from the original 1,039 who had entered the Rs 25,000 buy-in tournament in Bahamas — taking the prize pool to $26,45 million. Six others, apart from the winner would get over a million each. The money would be paid in descending amounts to players who ranked up to 181.
The leader, after day three play, was Scott Baumstein of the US who had amassed $4.24 million chips. But there could still be a lot of changes in the run up to the final minute of the game over the next two days. According to Aditya Agarwal, brand ambassador of Pokerstars, it takes a cool mental state to reach the top level in a five-day tournament. Agarwal, whose job is to promote poker in India said there was a lot of scepticism about the game since many associated it with other games of chance. But he said the world over, it is recognised as a game of skill and hopefully India’s highest court would have the opportunity to rule on this at some stage.
He said the Supreme Court had already declared rummy to be a game of skill and it was only a matter of time before that happens on poker too. The matter would be seen in the light of how it’s treated in most of the countries where it’s played. He said the Calcutta and Karnataka High Courts have already deemed poker to be a game of skill – and therefore, legal. He said there were many poker rooms in both the states and its popularity would only grow. Goa and Sikkim have legal casinos which also host poker games.
Agarwal, who is a celebrated player in India, started off on poker at age of 15 in college, where he learned the game from other students. He took coaching classes in the beginning and was mentored by expert players, with the result that he has made good money over the years, playing in several tournaments. He has shifted to Goa since one year to be able to play more consistently, but is also online almost every day. He said it was very easy for Indians to play online, as Pokerstars and other companies offer great opportunity for everyone. Money can be transferred to the site through credit cards or other payment methods and the gaming company deducts 30 per cent on winnings when a player wants to withdraw, providing tax deduction certificate on regular basis.