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Varun Ganjoo Reveals The NPS Mantra! Poker
Amarylisa Gonsalves
Posted on 06 Apr, 2023
By Amarylisa Gonsalves
On 06 Apr, 2023
By Amarylisa Gonsalves
On 06 Apr, 2023

Varun Ganjoo Reveals The NPS Mantra!

The third edition of the National Poker Series  (NPS) is just around the corner, and players are all set to battle it out for ultimate glory on the ‘battlefelts’ of PokerBaazi. Running between 29th March to 16th April 2023, this edition has an advertised guarantee of a massive ₹25 Crore on offer. PokerBaazi is making sure not to leave any stone unturned to make this edition the best in the country.

To know more about NPS as a series, the upcoming edition and how PokerBaazi is promoting it, we got in touch with Varun Ganjoo, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Baazi Games. Here’s what he had to say…

As the marketing director of BaaziGames, what are your thoughts about all these years in the industry and its contributions?

Well, I think I mean, it has been an interesting journey for us. When we started off back in 2014, it was still, poker was still starting off in the country, right. And I think we’ve covered a lot of roads since then. We feel that, you know, the kind of awareness that has happened for poker in India and the kind of attraction it is getting along with the continuous growth curve is very exciting for us to see. Although poker has shown a high growth curve over the last three to four years now, we still feel that we are at the very scratch of the mountain, and seeing the kind of immense scope where we see millions of people are enjoying mobile gaming, and other sorts of gaming as a whole. I think, eventually the growth for poker is bound to happen. And as many experts have said, the next decade is going to be a golden era for poker. So, just feel grateful to be a driving force here, taking poker ahead in India.

How is NPS 3.0 looking at the growth of poker players in India?

The very concept of the National Poker Series, India, was conceptualised three years back. The idea was to bring a unique kind of podium for players where we see it’s not just going to be the value offering for players in terms of the buying ranges, and the price is guaranteed prizes, which are very high-value offerings but also set a stage where we can crown and find our champions and glorify them.

The thing is that we at NPS are looking at further establishing poker as a sport, right? We’ve always said that there’s a big difference between a game and a sport. As I mentioned, there’s a big market for mobile gaming, but a lot of those games are just games, right? Which you could just come and play for fun. But poker is a sport just like you see sports like cricket, football or any other big competitive sport. I think in poker as well, you can have champions who are consistently working on their game, improving that and then winning back-to-back titles. So I think this is such a podium, which sort of glorifies these champions and the kind of growth that it has already seen with participation coming in from different corners of the country. So, I think we have seen that proof of concept going through and I think NPS will be playing a very key role even going ahead in future by attracting a lot of new players to the ecosystem.

How did the idea of NPS come from?

There are multiple tournaments that are there. Even if you look at PokerBaazi, what we offer has been consistent over the years. We have been innovators in that space and bring in value tournaments with some of the biggest guarantees. We started off with MoneyMaker, which was India’s first ₹1 Crore guarantee at that time. And now we’ve come to a stage where we are doing it every month, every first of the month.

In fact, we just celebrated the 30th edition of MoneyMaker with the doubled up guarantee of ₹2 Crore. Then recently, we did a ₹7 Crore G.O.A.T tournament. So I think things have turned out fast. And, you know, value wise, if you see we provided great value to the users. But again, when you talk about that, like I said, you can have that value every day, almost every day of the year on PokerBaazi. Now, I mean, that is the kind of stage where we’ve reached with Indian online poker where there is so much to play and explore every single day. But to establish it further and to glorify the players to establish it as a sport, to crown those champions. Say 5-10 years down the line, you will see that the people who are winning these titles and medals today will have their names engraved in the history books. So I think NPS is that unique combination.

Nobody is giving away gold, silver medals for tournament players. So that brings the uniqueness in addition to the already established value that we have. That’s a combination that NPS was visualized as. And honestly, NPS is a national entity, which is truly looking to crown these champions. So there is no direct relevance, which we see that it is not an offering, which you would say that it is happening on PokerBaazi or by PokerBaazi. So poker was just where it was being hosted. But NPSs vision is large, to expand the ecosystem of poker in India and keep finding the champions.

So what would you like to tell us about the upcoming third edition? And what’s new? Or what’s unique this year?

Well, people have already loved the format of NPS, the kind of structures and some really great tournaments that are there. But I think this 2023 edition is going to be an extension of that. If you talk about what’s going to be new, I think, for starters, there’ll be more tournaments. So, there are I think 117 tournaments happening this time, and the prize money has also gone up. There will be a prize pool of ₹25 Crore guaranteed this time. With the growing number of tournaments there will also be more medals to be crowned. So that is one thing and we are bringing in some unique features this time.

So for example, there is a new concept of break day being introduced. It’s a long format game in terms of even the duration and the number of days, starting on the 29th of March and goes on till 16th of April. So I think at 19 days, and then people who are into it will play all through. We have seen people grinding it out for the championship podiums, and that ultimate gold medal gold medalist of India ground.

ALSO READ: National Poker Series 2023 Schedule Is Out!

So I think we took this feedback from the players that it’s such a big tournament series, why not have sort of a break day when they can just relax a bit and then get back in full swing. So I think right bang in the middle of the NPS 2023 edition, we’ll have a break day where there won’t be any major NPS tournaments. And then there’s a surprise element this time.

We’ve already announced about it, which is that we are hosting an awards night for NPS champions this time and the details for it will also be revealed very soon. I think these are very few changes. And yes, in terms of value, tournaments like Golden Rush, we have seen immense participation, it offers great value with buy-in of as low as ₹500 and crores in guaranteed prizes. I think those value tournaments will be there in addition to more tournaments being added.

So what would you like to say about the professional players that are emerging in India currently?

I think as the sport grows, we are seeing the growth in both the number of professional players who are fully professionals and then semi-professionals and recreational. I mean, like any other sport, you will always see a mix, it cannot be just a focus on recreational players or just on full-time professional players.

So it’s going to be a healthy mix of it. And we see all the points moving right? Our focus as an entity is not just to form full time professional players. You know that is a byproduct. If you’re growing the ecosystem players will nurture and if you’re ensuring that the right ecosystem is there for them to grow, and grow sustainably.

Eventually, a chunk of that will turn professional. And we see that that’s a consistent shift that is happening. But largely, the growth is happening across corners. So you see the recreational is coming in chunks into the ecosystem and some of them turning into semi-professionals and professionals as well.

National Poker Series 2023 Schedule Is Out!

NPS has a very unique concept of ‘India khelega Glory Ke Liye’ So what is unique about this campaign, and what what’s this campaign all about?

So I think that’s a good question, because NPS has been about glory, like I said, from the conceptualization of it, the vision was to glorify. When the team sat down to brainstorm about what should the campaign be, eventually it came up that why not go straight up and just say that, you know, what is India going to be actually playing for?!

And hence keeping it simple, we came out with ‘India Khelega Glory Ke Liye’ which is the true essence of NPS. There is immense monetary value, also attached to it, but primarily what we are promoting is the glory part. So, hence, ‘India Khelega Glory Ke Liye.’ If you talk about the campaign, it’s going to be a full 360º campaign that is in swing. Right from mainstream media of television, and outdoors, and then the digital media across the spectrum. So the campaigns are in full swing, and we are sure that that is going to help us drive more and more participation to NPS 2023.

Talking about the 360-degree campaigns we’ve seen PokerBaazi everywhere now, televisions, holdings, it’s all it’s all there plus Shahid Kapoor on board. So what do you have to say about that?

So see, it’s a phase, right? I mean, we feel that poker has reached that phase where it needs more awareness. There are people, there is immense scope out there in the market, who can come join the ecosystem. And we still feel that we are given the immense scope and population of India, especially the young population. I feel it’s the right time to get them closer to the game and just get them started. So I think we made sure that we are hitting the right sort of messaging and hitting the right sort of targeting through the various channels that we pick.

And hence, we went up with 360º campaigns, right from the ‘You Hold The Cards’ campaign, which had Kapoor last year. And I think, this time, like I said, NPS is also going big in terms of reaching out to the masses. And I feel that this is a trend, which is going to continue in future driving more awareness for poker in general.

ALSO READ: PokerBaazi Announces Two New Brand Commercials With Shahid Kapoor

How is PokerBaazi planning to sustain the surge after the NPS 2023 edition?

It’s a big boost that we feel is going to happen, the kind of impact that NPS will have on poker growth is going to be immense. But I feel that PokerBaazi’s focus has been to grow the ecosystem otherwise as well. So the kind of way we bring offerings for our players is there all the time. There are tournaments, there are practice games, there are free tournaments. So for any category of player you talk about, whether it’s someone who has played poker frequently or has just had a taste of poker a little bit or if it’s a full time professional poker player, I think we have offerings for all kinds of players. So that helps us sustain those players properly.

I mentioned a few tournaments like MoneyMaker and others which are happening every month now. So I don’t see that, we have to do something special or different to sort of sustain the boost that is coming from NPS. I think that ecosystem nurturing is already happening on PokerBaazi. But we definitely feel that NPS in general is going to be a big booster for the growth of poker in India.

So without doing anything special, the kind of ecosystem that Pokerbaazi has created to be like, the number one today in India is truly remarkable, right?

Yes, I think being number one is definitely a good feeling. But I think it’s been a byproduct, to be honest. TWe feel that it’s the industry, the segment in general, is something that is in a growth phase. So we want to grow that segment. Our focus is in growing poker in general. And we feel that if we have the right focus, being number one will be a byproduct. So I think that our focus is clear with the growth of poker.

Anything else you would like to share with our viewers?

First of all, thank you for having me here. I feel that it’s a great time to be a part of the poker ecosystem, even if you talk from a player’s perspective, it’s a great time to be a part of this poker ecosystem. Be it any category of player, if you’re a full-time player, or you are playing it recreationally or if you want to start playing now.

It’s a perfect time to extract value from the product offering and experience that a platform like us is offering. And it’s going to get better and better from here. So looking forward to your viewers to come and play the National Poker Series.

For more news and updates, keep reading Gutshot Magazine. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Telegram.

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