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Even as the debate over the legality of poker rages on in various high court`s around the country, poker enthusiasts and industry operators alike have much to rejoice now with the superstar of another mind sport joining an Indian poker league as brand ambassador. We are talking about none other than chess Grandmaster (GM) and Padma Vibhushan award winner Viswanathan Anand (cover image) who has been roped in as the brand ambassador of the Poker Sports League (PSL).
PSL is a poker league backed by Dabur Vice Chairman Amit Burman and Adda52`s Anuj Gupta along with Pranav Bagai.
The five-time world champion who is famous for his “poker face” on the chess table is one of the most revered names in the world of chess. His involvement is expected to bring even more credibility to the game, which is widely misunderstood as gambling in the country.
The founders of the league are obviously very optimistic that Anand’s involvement will change the negative perception of the game in India. They are calling it their “biggest move ever”!
Although India’s first GM doesn’t play the game himself, he sure is excited to learn the game and refers to poker as “chess with a deck of cards”.
The chess phenom after being signed up by the country’s first poker league said, “In chess, I am called the poker-faced player. So maybe it’s time to learn to play the game now. I have been following poker for a few years now. It is a game of skill and that’s perhaps why chess players take to poker naturally. It’s got me intrigued.”
Anand got interested in the game after seeing many of his friends in the chess circuit play Texas Hold’Em. He now plans to learn the game as he is still, in chess terminology, an “unrated amateur” in poker.
Speaking to Times of India, Anand said, “What I have observed though is that poker and chess have some similarities in thinking process and being a chess player may actually influence your poker playing style.”
Welcoming Anand on board, PSL’s co-founder Burman said, “Chess and poker are frequently compared as both games are based on strategic thinking and decision making. Both games also involve reading the other player at the table.”
Just like Anand, the PSL team is gearing up Season 2, which is slated for the second half of 2018. Season 2 will see 12 city-based teams from across the country competing for a whopping ₹3.60 crores in prize money!