As 2014 was coming to a close, the live tournament scene in Goa was looking a bit bleak. There hadn’t been a big tournament held in many months and even the ones touted as the next big thing heralding the revival of the Goa tournament circuit fizzled away without much fanfare.
So when it was announced by the Deltin Poker room that new management was taking over, there was an anticipatory buzz. The reason for this being two-fold; one – the new team comprised of old hands with plenty of experience both as players and organisers and two – the return of the India Poker Championship (IPC). As the new room management team of Amin Rozani, Rajeev Kanjani and Sameer Rattonsey started working on immediate improvements to the room, their prior involvement along with Peter Abraham in the IPC, led to a quick announcement of an event in the first month of 2015. Shortly thereafter a full schedule of six events was announced for the 2015 season and this news brought much cheer to the poker faithful who were keen for Goa as a poker destination to get resurrected.
As the buildup to the January edition continued, the whispers were getting louder about this comeback event being a record breaking one and there is similar excitement for the upcoming April event as well. The regs or regular players of the Indian circuit are obviously quite kicked about the future prospects of tournaments in Goa, “IPC Jan’s numbers reinstate the fact that Indian poker is exploding and a Moneymaker Effect is right around the corner. Its just a matter of time till we start looking for venues to host 500+ tournament fields. All I can say is, I am STOKED!!!”, said accomplished pro Sangeeth ‘Samoh’ Mohan who had his very first taste of tournament poker at the IPC back in 2010.
And outstanding along with record breaking they were. The series started off with 120 players in the 6.5k Mega Satellite. The 5k Warm Up got an astounding 289 players while the 10k Kickoff had an equally impressive 219 participants. Even the poker room staff who have been around for years were taken aback, “We were expecting quite a pretty good turnout for the 5k and 10k events because those are lower buy-ins and are generally more popular as a result. But what surprised us all was the turn out for the 30k Main Event which also got in excess of 200 players!” said Bluma Sanfrancisco, senior manager at the Deltin Royale poker room. 212 players took part in the 30k Big Game (Main Event) which was eventually won by Sumit Asrani. The Mumbai based player was obviously elated with his win saying, “It feels like I won the WSOP of India!” The final event of the weekend saw 176 entries for the 12k Headhunter, a bounty event where every knockout fetches you a bounty wristband worth INR 2,000 each.
We asked a few known names from the industry about how the impact of IPC’s January event will affect the state of poker in the country. Fresh off his successful run at the Macau Poker Cup, Bengaluru Rockets Poker room operator Rajeev Raut said, “The turnouts have created a deep impact and sense of reassurance in the live tournament scene in India which will lead to more and more players traveling for live events. Winning an event at IPC can finally can get you your much needed Life Changing bankroll.” Newly minted PokerStars pro Aditya Agarwal who is one of the leading lights of the Indian poker scene had this to say, “It’s great for the game! IPC did a fantastic job of getting numbers which we have never seen before for tournaments. Everyone is coming down for the April edition and it should be a great event for Indian poker.”
While he was away in the land down under battling away at the Aussie Millions, Akash Malik expressed disappointment at being unable to participate in the Jan IPC, “Congratulations to the IPC for getting such amazing numbers. Its sucks that I missed the biggest IPC event because of the Aussie Millions but I was really happy to hear about the awesome numbers these guys got. Hope it just gets bigger and better in the future as it gives Indian poker players a feel of how it is to play in big international tournaments. I feel that while we have many really good cash game players in the country but there aren’t half as many good tournament players because of lack of exposure to the format. So this hopefully will be a platform for some good tournament players to emerge in the future. Keep up the good work and congratulations once again!”
Kolkata-based Bharat Agarwalla who is the guiding force behind the India Poker Series believes that IPC’s return has breathed new life into the Indian poker scene, “IPC numbers in its first event in 2015 were stupendous and unseen earlier in the Indian poker scene. This will result in a new wave which will bring the tournament scene back to life in India which was going through a lull in the recent past. The enthusiasm at the IPC which happens to be one of the oldest and amongst the most successful tourneys in the country since its inception in 2010, could be seen on the faces of all players present and it would continue to do be amongst the top tourneys of the country. The formats and the structures of IPC in 2015 were fantastic. Hoping to be participating in their future events whenever I can make it Goa on the tourney dates. I wish the entire team of IPC all the very best and hope they continue to deliver the most well organised events in future as well.”
Even poker media veterans like Rajat Agarwal of PokerGuru.in who provides live coverage from all the events believes IPC has an important role to play in the Indian tournament scene, “Looking at the record numbers at Jan edition, they now have an even bigger role to play in the revival of the good old golden days of 2011-2012. It’s always an exciting weekend for us at PokerGuru to cover a big field tournament like the IPC and we are really looking forward to the April edition.”
There is no doubt that the return of the IPC and its year long schedule has gladdened the hearts of many poker players across the country. Going by the high levels of anticipation in the run up to the April edition, we can expect a size-able turnout once again and this is only good for the health and future of the Indian poker landscape in the long run.
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