Published: 9 February, 2023

Poker face: What the vertical looks like in India

Poker High Promoter Gaurav Gaggar explains why poker is so attractive, the latest trends in the vertical and the current outlook for Indian poker

Can you tell us more about Poker High?

Poker High was started as a differentiated poker brand in India. We believe poker is a game that can be played by anyone, regardless of education, community, profession etc. We want to give a platform to players across the board to come and display their skills and be recognised. We are creating IPs not just for existing poker pros but also for casual poker players who need to be encouraged and recognised.

Why is poker such an exciting vertical?

Poker is a game of skill but it also has an element of mystique; you always feel you can win. Anyone can play poker but to be a winning player you need to practice, be disciplined and keep learning. It’s a great way to get to know people and learn how to deal with situations.

How has poker evolved over the years?

Poker has evolved from being played for virtual coins by IT professionals coming back from the US to being played legally online across India. It is no longer a niche underground game being played behind doors and is very much a social game played openly at homes or parties. We are yet to see regulated poker rooms for most parts of India but that will be the true acceptance of poker in India.

We are yet to see regulated poker rooms for most parts of India but that will be the true acceptance of poker in India

What are the latest trends in poker?

The latest trend in poker is to equate it with lifestyle. It’s not only about being a winning player on the felts but also about what poker brings to your life. The way you conduct yourself. The way poker teaches you to be disciplined, to practice and learn each day. There is a big move towards democratisation of players, to take it to the smaller towns of India.

What does the Indian poker industry look like?

The Indian poker industry is looking up and up. With poker now being played across the nation, including in smaller towns, sooner rather than later it will become a common sport rather than a niche one. We can see evidence with families now playing among themselves. Even now for every one online player, there are nine offline players.

What does the future of poker look like for 2023 and beyond?

The poker industry is part of the overall gaming industry of India. While there is a lot of movement in the gaming industry per se, it remains to be seen what it means for poker particularly. Naturally, the pending GST issue and incumbent gaming rules will have a long way to govern the way poker is played in India.