The evolution of poker in India continued recently thanks to new moves by the Global Poker League (GPL) and PokerStars.
Following the conclusion of GPL India Season 1, the tournament operator has announced a partnership with Colors Infinity HD. A subsidiary broadcasting giant Viacom, Colors Infinity HD has an average weekly viewership of 25.2 million and will now show episodes of GPL every Saturday.
Broadcasters Embrace Poker in India
Working alongside PokerStars.IN, the GPL hosted its inaugural Indian team tournament back in 2018. Running between June and September, the multifaceted event saw players of all skill levels compete for cash and Platinum Passes.
In creating GPL India, the two poker brands saw 7,500 players from across India compete for places on six regional teams. Those that qualified got to play alongside and learn from team captains, including India’s top ranked female player, Muskan Sethi.
The first episode of GPL India will air on March 9 and run until April 6. For the industry as a whole, the broadcasts will increase the amount of poker content shown in India.
In October 2018, the Match Indian Poker League (MatchIPL) partnered with MTV to launch Pro Hunt. Creating a buzz around an event aiming to find the best emerging talent in India, the show gave novices a chance to see the opportunities poker has to offer.
GPL India will serve a similar purpose by providing a window into the world of professional tournament poker.
Stars Align for PokerStars.IN
In tandem with increased TV exposure, PokerStars’ latest signing will also be doing his bit for poker in India. Announced on March 1, Bollywood star Nawazuddin Siddiqui is now the official for PokerStars.IN.
The actor’s first role has seen him star in three commercials (see video above). Tagged with the line “is Nawaz bluffing,” the commercials are designed to highlight the psychological aspects of poker.
To encourage participation, viewers are able to visit PokerStars.IN and vote on whether Siddiqui is telling the truth or not.
Although entertaining, the partnership is also being used to emphasis the skill aspect of poker.
“Nawaz is one of the most engaging and popular personalities in Bollywood who has shown great resilience, determination and skill to get to where he is today. These are all key attributes belonging to poker players,” read the recent press release.
Despite legal issues in certain states, the skill/entertainment angle has helped poker in India flourish over the last two years. In addition to mergers and TV deals, PokerBaazi recently hosted a record-breaking event.
Dubbed the Game Changer, the $155 online MTT attracted 3,777 entries, making it the richest online tournament in Indian online poker history.
Although the market may not have yet reached its full potential, India has clearly become a hotspot for growth. With the GPL and PokerStars adding to the list of innovations, 2019 should see poker gain an even stronger foothold in the world’s second most populous country.