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It was only last year that Raj and Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s Viaan Industries Ltd. and Switzerland-based International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) joined hands to bring to the Indian audience an exciting new poker league – Match Indian Poker League (MIPL) and the league has taken big steps since.
The debut season was a resounding success with Harman Baweja`s Mumbai All Stars emerging as the champions and the winning team even went on to represent Team India at the IFMP Nations Cup 2017 in London.
On March 31, MIPL will be visiting the City of Joy – Kolkata where the Season 2 finale will be held at Hotel Hindustan International. By the looks of it, the second edition of the league promises to be even bigger and better with several changes and improvements to further add to the excitement of the format. For starters, the format has been changed to a one day finale instead of the previous two-day finale with a better and improved structure and three new teams have been added this season, namely, UP Indians, Pune Kings and Haryana Hawks.
In our last MIPL report we had introduced the Team members of Haryana Hawks. In this report we bring you details from the other two debuting teams – UP Indians and Pune Kings.
UP Indians is the brainchild of some well-reputed poker pros along with prominent names from the corporate and entertainment industry.
Abhishek Jalan, who was part of last Season’s championship team Mumbai All Stars, will be taking on a more important role this season as the key stakeholder and captain of Team UP Indians. UP Indians have also signed on online poker site The Spartan Poker as its title sponsor.
UP Indians Owners
Janhavee Droliya – A businesswoman & proud mother, Janhavee was instrumental in setting up the international business for one of the top pen and stationery companies of India. She’s well travelled and takes a keen interest in different cultures of the world. Her focus and commitment can be seen through her achievements in academics as she has won 10 gold medals from the largest university in the country.
PokerGuru spoke to Droliya on her new role as a team owner and she said, “After watching the Match IPL last year, we were really keen on being a part of it and thus when we came to know that they're taking 2 more entries this year, we wouldn’t miss a chance to grab the opportunity.
Being sports enthusiasts and new in this field, what better sport to get into than the mind sport Poker. Since me & Abhishek have our roots from Banaras, UP, we couldn’t find any reason not to represent the state we love :). Like our name, our strategy is also quite simple, have the best team to play the best hand in the game. With Abhishek Jalan as captain & trained players from AceJack & IPP we hope to put our best foot forward & come out as winners!”
Abhishek Jalan – Coming from the roots of Varanasi, Abhishek is a businessman by profession, belonging to the prominent business family behind Jalan Synthetics. His enthusiasm for the sport is clearly visible in his expressive nature during poker events all over India. He runs a successful poker stable called AceJack where young and fresh poker talents are given an opportunity to grow. He also runs India's first live cash game staking stable with over 20 players.
Rohit Chokhani – Founder of White Unicorn ventures, an investment company with 20+ early & growth businesses, Chokhani has a strong finance background with focus on risk mitigation, investment & management. He invests across industries like e-marketplaces, travel & auto, real estate, consumer Internet, education, media, hospitality and F&B.
Chokhani too echoed similar excitement and passion for the league when we spoke to him, “We are seeing a growth in mind sports, and match poker is a perfect opportunity to propel poker into mainstream mind sports, we now as stakeholders in this format of poker, hope to promote it as a mainstream sport, similar to other mind sports like chess. The IFMP & MatchIPL league have just started, and we see popularity of its unique format growing, as it provides an excellent opportunity for every individual, even those who are new to poker.”
Anup Palod – An ex investment banker, Anup has spent a decade with Bank of America and JP Morgan in Mumbai while working in various profiles. His passion for numbers attracted him to poker and so strong was the lure of the game that he quit his job in 2017 to become a poker entrepreneur. Anup is co-founder of India's biggest poker staking/coaching portal IndianPokerPros.
Palod spoke to PokerGuru about his association with UP Indians and said, “Poker is seeing steady growth over past few years but there have also been setbacks. By becoming part of Match Indian Poker league, I wish to change the overall perception of the sport and make people see the potential this sport carries. Just because it is played with cards, doesn't make it gambling. This taboo associated with cards and poker overall needs to get changed and I think Match IPL is one of most apt platforms available out there which can be utilized to break the taboo that surrounds this beautiful game.”
Rannvijay Singh – Singh is an Indian TV host, VJ & proud co-owner of UP Indians. A youth icon, Rannvijay is an avid Poker player & has taken active part in poker tournaments in the past. He believes in the skill-based aspect of Poker as a sport and has the wit & sharpness to match it. He believes in the principle of Poker as a mind sport.
Speaking about co-owning UP Indians, Singh said, "Ever since I had started playing poker, I fell in love with it. Contrary to popular belief, it is as mental a sport as any. When the opportunity of being a part of UP Indians came about, I knew it was too good to pass. We are extremely confident of winning the Match IPL and give the sport that mainstream coverage and spotlight it so richly deserves."
Team UP Indians
1. Abhishek Jalan (Captain)
2. Anita Hassanandani
3. Prashant Jain
4. Prateek Mishra
5. Neeraj Kumar
6. Ragesh Mishra
7. Abhishek Garg
8. Ashish Munot
9. Arsh Grover
Another new Team this Season, Pune Kings is backed my experienced entrepreneurs with interests in sectors ranging from real estate, construction to manufacturing.
Pune Kings Owners
Manesh and Moksh Sani run Living Liquidz that is involved in retail, import and distribution of liquor along with vineyards. They are actively involved in real estate, hospitality and construction across India.
Sunil and Jeetu Ajbani, entrepreneurs behind Deluxe Veneers, they are pioneers in the wood interior industry with hi-tech manufacturing facilities and pan India presence.
Team Pune Kings
1. Jeetu Ajbani – Captain
2. Moksh Sani
3. Manan Rangnani
4. Vicky Singh
5. Nitin Aidasani
6. Prakshat Shrimankar
7. Akash Shekhar
8. Leisha Bathija
9. Amit Bathija
Keep following all the updates from Match IPL Season 2 right here on PokerGuru!