The entire country is gripped tightly with what we call the ‘Pathaan Fever’ and it is not going to die down anytime soon. The Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) starrer comes after a painful hiatus the actor took but looks like the Bollywood flick is raging at the box office. The spy-thriller has reportedly crossed the ₹500 Crore mark internationally. On the domestic front, the flick which sees John Abraham playing villain, became the fastest Bollywood film to hit the 200 Crore mark leaving behind the past top grossers like KGF: Chapter 2 (Yash starrer) and Baahubali: The Conclusion (Prabhas starrer). But what are we looking into today? Of course our headline talks about the SRK starrer’s connection to poker. Guessing what it could be? Anything? Don’t sweat, we will tell you all about that and some more too. So let’s get started.
The Bollywood blockbuster Pathaan is a Siddharth Anand directorial and that is Pathaan’s connection to poker. Anand who has previously directed flicks like War, Bang Bang, Anjaana Anjaani, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Salaam Namaster among others, is a Match Poker player. He has represented Mumbai All Stars (winners) in Season 1 of the MatchIPL. Surprised? Let us tell you some more. The Pathaan director was a part of the maiden season of Match Indian Poker League (MatchIPL). This first ever season had seven teams, namely, Ahmedabad Hearts, Bangalore Royals, Delhi Aces, Goa Kings, Jaipur Jewels, Kolkata Diamonds and Mumbai All Stars.
The winning side of Season 1 were Mumbai All Stars. This team was captained by yet another Bollywood actor-producer Harman Baweja. Anand was a part of this team which also had one more television-film personality—Anita Hassanandani. The Mumbai All Stars indeed had Bollywood packing the much-needed punch. Other members of this team were Nikunj Jhunjhunwala, Sacheen Ramchandani, restaurateur, Keenan Tham, Pratibha Arya, IOPC Jul 2016 Main Event winner, and Mumbai All Stars-owner, Abhishek Jalan and Jagdeep Singh (PLO specialist).
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Mumbai All Stars were awarded a handsome prize money of ₹1.25 Crore. The runner-up were Jaipur Jewels and they took home ₹75 Lakh and the second runner-up were Ahmedabad Hearts for ₹50 Lakh. Popular Indian grinder, Aditya ‘Bitti’ Agarwal, also the owner of Jaipur Jewels was crowned as the Player of the Series. The final battle was hosted at the famous Yash Raj Studio in Mumbai. Bollywood diva, Shilpa Shetty also marked her attendance at this event, and it won’t be wrong to say that it was a glamorous night filled with poker action.
Furthermore, MatchIPL Season 1 winners represented Team India at the Nations Cup in Oxford. Here, Mumbai All Stars locked horns against teams from Austria, Spain, Mexico, Ireland, Italy, UK, and Germany. So, this was about Siddharth Anand’s connection to poker and now you know how the Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone starrer is connected to this mindsport.
But wait people! Is the Pathaan director the only connection the entertainment industry has to poker? Of course not! Aren’t you a tad bit curious to know about the other celebrities who are either poker players or are associated with the game? We are sure you want to know all about it. So without any further ado let’s dive into the Indian celebrities who have played poker or are related to the game in some way.
This Bollywood beauty is a poker player who shows up from time to time at the most coveted series hosted in the circuit. Be it India Poker Championship (IPC) or Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) the diva has been grinding for many years now. She brought star power to IPC Megastacks May 2022 with her presence and also played in the 60K Main Event. Sadly she was busted at the 19th spot for ₹2,11,400. That was not the only event where Lamba marked her attendance. She was also seen grinding in the 100K High Roller event. Here, the Yahaan actress exited the game after her J-pair failed against Anant Purohit’s 8-Q straight. Lamba was also Adda52’s Celebrity Pro and has been seen grinding at DPT and DPT Xpress events. In February 2022, the Bollywood actress was also seen at the cash tables of Deltin Jaqk which was exclusively meant for female poker players. In June 2022, news broke that the Shaurya actress is the brand ambassador of online poker platform Nostra Pro which is now rebranded as HiScore.
Did Lamba only play domestic games? Of course not. She also travelled all the way to Las Vegas to play in the coveted World Series of Poker (WSOP). Hendon Mob data tells us that Lamba played WSOP at Las Vegas in 2019 (Events 78 and 50). She managed to get cashes in both the events she participated in. Lamba also grinded in WSOP Online (WSOPO) events in 2020 (Events 10 and 84). Once again Lamba cashed at both the WSOPO tournaments. In June 2022, the actress was grinding at the The Wynn Summer Classic, Las Vegas. She played in the $550 Pot Limit Omaha event wherein she finished 42nd for a prize money of $1,483. Be it Indian or abroad, the gorgeous diva never fails to impress. We cannot wait to see how Lamba takes her game forward.
We all know her as the ‘Naagin’ of Indian television. The actress who rose to fame in every household thanks to her lead role in Ekta Kapoor’s Kkavyanjali. But did you know that Hassanandani is brilliant at poker? Yes she is. The film-television actress was a part of the Mumbai All Stars which was led by Harman Baweja to ultimate victory in MatchIPL Season 1. She was seen grinding at IPC Megastacks May 2022 in the IPC 100k High Roller event. She locked horns with poker pro Arsh Grover and that did not end well for the mother of one. The Krishna Cottage actress exited at the 19th spot for ₹2,12,200.
At another IPC Megastacks May 2022 event (25K Kick Off), Hassanandani was shown the exit route by Arjun Bharadwaj when his pocket queens beat her pocket sixes on Level 5 (blinds 300/500, ante 500). She was also part of the High Stakes Cash Game Festival at Deltin Royale in September 2022 where players could grind against celebs like her, Siddhant Kapoor and Krystle D’Souza. That’s not all. Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty backed PokerRaj was the firm which signed Hassanandani as its brand ambassador in November 2018. We are yet to see a lot more of Hassanandani on the poker felts and her winning titles will be the cherry on the cake.
The Indian poker circuit is well-versed with this name as much the Bollywood fraternity is. Baweja has been grinding for quite a while now. Back in 2011, the Lovestory 2050 actor stood second in an IPC event. He mentioned in an interview with Mid-Day that he plays poker recreationally and played the IPC event only at his friend’s request. In 2017, the What’s Your Raashee actor went on to captain the Mumbai All Stars of the MatchIPL Season 1 which is also reportedly bought along with Muizz Khan (Kashid Group). This team won and Baweja’s name went down in poker history. The silver screen may not have blessed this Bollywood actor with success but poker definitely did.
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This Indian television actor rose to fame thanks to his stints in MTV Splitsvilla 5 and Yeh Hai Mohabbatein. With 5.1 Million followers on Instagram you can simply imagine the insane fan following Aly Goni has. But did you know he’s also a good poker player. You want proof? Goni finished seventh for ₹5,64,000 at the IPC Megastacks May 2022 100K High Roller. He was on the final table which had pros like Arsh Grover, Alok Birewar (winner), Faiz Alam. Gutshot Magazine’s June 2021 cover star Siddhanth Kapoor was also on the final table and exited at the fourth spot for ₹10,17,900. So next time there’s a live poker event, we hope to see Goni crush the felts once again.
MatchIPL reportedly was a venture promoted by Raj Kundra and his actress-wife Shilpa Shetty. The poker brand was reportedly operating under Viaan Industries Limited and the International Federation of Poker (IFP). In 2018 news media was filled with stories of Kundra launching PokerRaj.com of which Anita Hassanandani was made brand ambassador. Talking about MatchIPL, another actor named Mukul Chadda was reportedly all set to represent India at World Nations Cup 2022. This news was also shared by Match Poker India’s official Instagram handle. The September 2019 edition of IPC also included Chadda as its celeb entrant apart from Kunal Kemmu (another Bollywood poker lover), Rannvijay Singha, Siddhanth Kapoor, Minissha Lamba and Anita Hassanandani.
Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty
Don’t we all know by now that Shahid Kapoor is the brand ambassador of PokerBaazi, one of India’s top online poker platforms? Sure we all know about it. But did you know that the Udta Punjab actor is also a poker enthusiast? He reportedly bonded with fellow poker lover and Bollywood actor-producer Harman Baweja over the mindsport (never mind both dated Priyanka Chopra in different timelines!). Poker made the impossible happen when Kapoor and Baweja when it comes to the skill game. And we also heard that the Jab We Met actor hosted home games at his previous Yari Road residence. We wonder how many of those folks were from Bollywood. But now, as a brand ambassador of PokerBaazi, Kapoor is going full throttle in promoting the game in mainstream media and he gets a thumbs up from us.
Yes, Mr Perfectionist plays poker and is reportedly obsessed with online games. We are not making this up. As per news reports in Telegraph India, the Dangal actor told Malaika Arora Khan that his guilty pleasure was playing poker. This happened during one of the Koffee Shots around and may we say, we are utterly impressed. Other news reports also covered how Khan is known for hosting some of the best home games. Media reports state that director Kunal Kohli made a lot of money while playing at Khan’s home games, stakes of which go up to 5K.
Aamir Khan Image Credit: Star World/Koffee With Karan
Rannvijay Singha became a household name thanks to his stint at Roadies on MTV. But now he is associated with an online poker room—PokerHigh. Does that surprise us? No! Singha has been grinding for a long time now. In an interview to Tribune India, Singha admitted that poker taught him patience and how it’s a reading game. The father of two also played chief guest at the second edition of IPC Awards. He and brother Harman also hosted The Player Hunt Season 2.
Well, when it comes to other notable celebs from the entertainment industry, we also have Suresh Menon. He joined Gutshot Magazine for a webinar during India Online Poker Championship (IOPC) Jan 2021. The comedian-actor was also associated with Spartan Poker’s comic video series Around The Table where other standup comics like Karan Talwar and Gursimran Khamba also featured. Another comedian who’s into poker would be Mubeen Saudagar. He played at IPC Jan 2020 and finished 6th for ₹12,48,600 from a field of 693 entries. To read more, click HERE.
The Raaz actor hosted a party for Dan Bilzerian when he visited India. Need we say more about Morea’s love for poker and the game’s notorious celeb Bilzerian? IPC Jan 2020 saw Morea in attendance. It was possible for players at IPC Jan 2020 to lock horns with celebs like Chetan Hansraj, Divya Agarwal, Varun Sood, Rannvijay Singha, Karan Patel, Kunal Kemmu among others.
Dino Morea and Dan Bilzerian Image Credit: Yogen Shah
Are you thinking of one missing name from Bollywood? Maybe Siddhanth Kapoor? No, we did not skip him. The Kapoor lad plays poker just like any other reg. He grinds under the nicknames like ‘Bullzeye’ and ‘Liu Kang’ and has been featured on Gutshot Magazine’s cover as well. We consider him to be a part of the Indian poker circuit just like he is a part of the entertainment industry. He’s not someone who shows up occasionally in an online poker tournament / series or a live game in Goa.
Kapoor has been grinding regularly and has 81 online titles to his credit and over ₹3 Crore in total lifetime earnings (online) as of January 2022. So, with such records, we consider him to be a reg and not a celebrity who plays poker as a side hobby or just for fun. With that it is time we draw curtains on this article that sheds light on Indian celebrities who play poker. If you know of more Indian celebrities other than what we have listed, please name those celebs in the comments section below.
With a Masters Degree in Journalism and Communication, Mrinal Gujare currently is cruising through an exciting genre of writing and editing at Gutshot Magazine. Apart from being an Editor, Mrinal is an avid reader and a former contemporary dancer. She is also perennially hungry for intriguing scoops from across the globe. No holds barred is the rule Mrinal follows in life.
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