Dabur's Amit Burman-backed Poker Sports League to launch on 24 May in Goa

MUMBAI: So looking at sports these days we have a national league for each and every game let it be cricket, football, hockey, basketball, badminton, kabaddi and many more. Now you can add poker to that list. Come 24 May, the Deltin Royale, which is anchored in the Mandovi river in Goa, will see the launch of the Poker Sports League (PSL) - the first of its kind in India.

The purpose of the PSL: “To promote the tournament aspect of poker across India and to provide every poker enthusiast an opportunity to play for the pride of winning. To promote responsible poker.”

With a prize money of Rs 3.3  crore, 12 teams consisting of nine players each, the tournament will be held in the largest poker room on board the five storied Deltin Royale over five days. The  teams which were formed after a player draft include:   Bengaluru Jokers, Chennai Bulls, Delhi Panthers, Goan Nuts, Gujarat Acers, Haryana Hunters, Kings Hyderabad, Kolkata Royals, Mumbai Anchors, Pune Sharks, Punjab Bluffers and Rajasthan Tilters.

The PSL - the brain child of Dabur scion and vice-chairman Amit Burman,  - has attracted a clutch of well known entrepreneur businessmen to become team owners: 

Team Delhi: Rishi Kajaria, joint MD, Kajaria Ceramics and Ruchiransh Jaipuria of Jaipuria Group, Leela Jewels Abhishekh Jain, and Dhampur Sugars Gaurav Goel

Team Mumbai: Mehul Shah, original promoter of Anchor Electrical;

Team Bengaluru: Kunal Shah, cofounder of FreeCharge

Team Hyderabad:  Amit Shah, Karan Bhagat and Yatin Shah of IIFL Wealth Management

Team Gujarat: Harish Bahl,, Manish Vij and Gopikaa Davar of the Smile group and Mukesh Agarwal of VITWO.

Team Kolkata: Ankkit Bahadur of Playboy, North India and Taarun V Jain of Legend Group

Team Goa: Gaurav Mohan of Eventwala

Team Chennai:  FreshDesk cofounder Girish Mathrubootam  and CaratLane cofounder  Mithun Sancheti

Team Harayana:  Citrus Payment (PayU) cofounders Amrish Rau and Jiendra Gupta

Team Pune: Rishabh Jhunjhunwala of Bhilwara Group, Shamit Khemka of Synapse India, Chetan Kajaria of Kajaria Ceramics and Sachin Goel  

Team Rajasthan: Purrshottam Bhaggeria of Filatex

“This will ensure that the league becomes a success going ahead,” Burman had said during the announcement of the league a few months back.

Each team has a captain, or mentor, and two professional and four amateur players who were chosen from the thousands competing in online and offline events over the past five months.

A gaggle of professionals have also decided to take part  Jaideep Sajwan, Zarvan Tumboli , Vidwath Shetty, Manoj Pentakota, Vinod, Megalmani, Aman Dhamija, Vivek ‘ik’ Rughani, Tarun Goyal, Abhinav Iyer. Bhavn Nainani, Pawan Bansal, Alok Ranjan, Madan Kumar, Sangeet Patni, Sahil, Mayank Agarwal Nishant Sharma, Karthik Ved, Deepak Batr, Sharad Rao, Sumit Sapra, Ratul Steves, SAhil Chutani and Siddharth Singvi.

It has also attracted a handful of sponsors in year one: Jet Airways, Bira, Real Activ and John Jacobs.

According to one of the team mentors Kunal Patni, the idea is to sportify the game in year one.  “We have the RFID tables and hole card cameras,” he told Radio One. “the idea is to have audiences know what’s going on and have them participate from the comfort of their homes.”

All the matches are to be shot and filmed and a seven- part series is to be created, even as the matches are live streamed online on its facebook page. Sources indicate the series will also be telecast on a TV channels.

Patni believes that the PSL will only grow from here and the sport which is taught in Harvard Business School will soon get the status it deserves, among India’s denizens.

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