Top 5 Developments of 2019 – Poker Goes Mainstream

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  • Namita Ghosh January 4, 2020
  • 3 Minutes Read

Moving on to the fourth edition of the top five developments of 2019, we take a look at how 2019 was the year that saw poker go mainstream in the country!

Poker in India is getting more and more acceptance, and a lot of the credit for this has to be given to the media outreach efforts made by poker companies that have helped clear the negative perceptions surrounding the game.

2019 was the year that saw the industry leaders pouring millions into TV ads and digital promotions, broadening the horizons of the mind sport and taking it to the television-watching masses. The frontrunner here was the India-arm of online poker giant PokerStars. Reflecting on the change in its global strategy, PokerStars India went all out on marketing spends through mainstream channels. From sponsoring GPL India, signing on National award winner Nawazuddin Siddiqui to running round-the-clock TVC’s – the site did most of the legwork to get poker mainstream. Saving the best for the last, the site signed on as an associate sponsor for the immensely popular reality TV show Bigg Boss Season 13 on Colors.

Taking the cue from PokerStars India, even industry leader Adda52 came out with its first integrated brand campaign called ‘Banao Dimaag Ko Ameer’ last year. The campaign featured the site’s brand ambassador Chris Gayle with non-stop ads on television, OTT, and other digital platforms.

2019 was also the year that saw India further cementing its place on the international poker map. The revival of the live poker scene in Goa brought many international poker celebs like Robert Mizrachi, Patrik Antonius, David Benyamine, and even Instagram sensation Dan Bilzerian to India. While their appearances helped spark public interest, it also brought Indian poker the much-needed international spotlight!

Dan Bilzerian
Dan Bilzerian


PokerStars India Signed Up Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Became Associate Sponsor For Bigg Boss Season 13

After entering India through its ring-fenced site, PokerStars India, in 2018, online poker giant PokerStars gave a significant impetus to increase its brand presence in the country last year. In February, it brought on-board popular Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui as its brand ambassador and even roped in Oglivy India as its creative ad agency. Siddiqui was seen featuring in three videos that hit mainstream television and digital media as part of the brand’s campaign called ‘#IsNawazBluffing.’ This was followed by a digital marketing campaign in August called ‘#MadeforPoker,’ once again featuring Siddiqui.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Talking about the campaign, CEO of Sachiko Gaming, Ankur Dewani had said, “With #MadeForPoker, PokerStars India wants to connect with people from all walks of life and to make them aware of the potential poker player within them. We want to help people understand the game better and encourage them to play safely on a secure, regulated platform such as PokerStars India.”

Possibly, the most prominent marketing spend for PokerStars India came in later in the year when it signed on to become the Associate Sponsor for Season 13 of the reality TV show Bigg Boss that premiered on Colors (VIACOM) on September 29.

Watch the latest ‘# IsNawazBluffing’ video here:

Watch the latest ‘# MadeforPoker’ video here:


Adda52’s ‘Banao Dimaag Ko Ameer’ Campaign

Following on the footsteps of PokerStars India, the country`s largest online poker site, Adda52, launched its first integrated brand campaign with legendary cricketer and Brand Ambassador Chris Gayle. Called ‘Banao Dimaag Ko Ameer’, the campaign indicated the company’s impetus to affinity-based buying and gave out the message that poker is a mind game and enhances mental skills.

Talking about the campaign, CEO, and co-founder of Adda52, Mohit Agarwal had stated, “Poker has always maintained an image around winning prizes. As a market leader in the online poker category, Adda52 wanted to take a stand on the game which is not just about winnings but also about increasing mental agility and this is how #BanaoDimaagKoAmeer happened.”


Poker Leagues – Continue Mainstream Broadcasts

Poker leagues are playing a significant role in changing the public perception of poker. Two of them, Poker Sports League (PSL) (Discovery DSPORT) and Match Indian Poker League (MIPL) (MTV), made their debut on Indian television in 2018. The same year, India’s first-ever long-run poker league, Global Poker League (GPL), also set foot in India, in association with PokerStars India. Season 1 of GPL India was won by Mumbai Jetsetters, and each member of the winning team, namely, Team Manager Kavin Shah, Raman Gujral, Vivek Singh, Saurabh Sindhwani and Aneesh Gopinathan won a free Platinum Pass to the 2019 PSPC. The juicy highlights from Season 1 of GPL India were aired on Colors Infinity and Colors Infinity HD in 2019.

GPL India premiered on Colors Infinity & Colors Infinity HD

Talking about the same, GPL India Producer & Chief Strategy Officer, Max Rabinovitch said, This is without a doubt our most ambitious expansion of Global Poker League competition. It makes me confident that poker really is the next mind sport set to blow up in India.”

Later in the year, Team India went on to create history by winning the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) Asian Nations Cup for the first time ever. MIPL Season 4 also played out in November, where Team Haryana Hawks captured the trophy for the second time in the league’s history, and all the action was subsequently aired on MTV.

Haryana Hawks won the MIPL Season 4

While poker’s growing presence through mainstream media channels undoubtedly engaged many new players, we will soon be revealing our pick for the most significant poker development of 2019 in our next feature. Stay tuned!

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