"But playing poker requires a better skillset than that possessed by a professional fund manager who deals in large equity and debt funds," says Anuj Gupta, founder and CEO of Adda52.com, claims to be India's largest indigenous online poker site.
Gupta, whose Adda52 co-hosted DPT Colossus - a super high-roller series on board Deltin Royale, an offshore casino in Goa -- also said that the gaming industry in India was expected to grow from (Dollar) 360 million (Rs 2,736 crore) at present to (Dollar) 1 billion (Rs 6,500 crore) by 2021.
The prize money for the series was Rs 2 crore. The series started in 2016.
"When we were starting up, we had to literally educate our investors, banks and everyone around by showing the legal framework," Gupta told IANS at the end of the series, adding: "We had to educate people about the difference between gambling and a game of skill." Gambling is deemed to be a game of chance.
The gaming scene in India, Gupta said, was limited compared to China and the US, but it had huge potential.
"Playing games online is still discouraged as it is seen as a recreational activity. This makes boosting online gaming an uphill task in India," Gupta said, while wishing that governments would encourage mind games like chess, rummy, poker and bridge.
Rummy, Gupta said, was still one of the most popular games in India, primarily because it was traditionally played at home by family and friends.
"But now with real money prize competition, we see that the monetisation aspect is on the rise. Real money is catching on in traditional games like Solitaire, Ludo, and you can see the interest of the public in these games," he said.
A study commissioned by Google-KPMG has estimated that the Indian gaming industry would attract 310 million online players by 2021.
"Our target is to 'sportify' poker and make it a mainstream game in India.
With over 20,000 qualifier participations pan India in the very first year of Poker Sports League, one can safely infer the potential of poker in the country," he said, adding that one of the key factors in the growth of the gaming industry in India was that the youth had become global citizens and are not carrying "pre-conceived notions".
Many actually travel abroad to participate in international tournaments, take coaching from international professionals and then act as skilled ambassadors of the game, he said.
At the Goa high-roller series, which concluded on April 28, the star attraction was West Indian cricket star Chris Gayle, who was the brand ambassador for the event.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org