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Updated: April 14, 2024

Best Indian Poker Players

Poker is one of the most popular games in the world. It is widely regarded as one of the most mentally engaging games as well. Poker is a game consisting of a deck of cards and is known to work your mental and social skills extensively. Poker can be described best as an umbrella term: a culmination of different paths for a group of dealt cards to reach a conclusive goal that is the same no matter what path you take. 

Poker is a very popular game also due to its versatility. It can be branched out to several different variations and is widely played as a betting game as well. The origin of the game goes way back. Poker originated in Germany in the sixteenth century, where it originated as a game of “Pochen”.

“Pochen” was then developed into a French version called “poque”, which later travelled halfway across the world and adopted as “poker ” in New Orleans, where it was played primarily on the riverboats that resided in the Mississipi. 

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, poker is widely regarded as the most famous card game and one of the most popular games in general, so much so that it is regarded as a sport that has adopted the betting system quite well. Poker is so popular amongst certain individuals that the concept of betting itself is synonymous to poker these days. When Indians were exposed to poker , it was very new to them. While India did join the poker bandwagon almost too late, there have been some exemplary players emerging out in the global level that still manage to come out on top. Of course, all thanks to India’s ever growing average intelligence quotient.

How Poker  is Played

Poker  is one of those games that might seem like a tough concept to grasp, but in reality, it is a moderately easy game to learn. You only need two things; a deck of cards and a few players. Additionally, some advanced players may choose to add a few more jacks or a full fledged second deck to speed up the game, but we’ll focus on just the basics for now. 

  1. Place your bets. Forced bets are the most common form of betting in poker . Bets are known as “blinds” in poker . Most games consist of a small and then a big blind, with the big blind being twice as much as the small blind. 
  2. The cards are dealt in a clockwise manner. Once the cards have been dealt, there are various betting options you can choose from: 
  • Call: Call is when you match another player’s betting amount or raising amount. 
  • Raise: Raise is when you raise your bets in the same round. 
  • Fold: To withdraw from the round. 
  • Check: Before the first betting round, players can ‘check’ their bets, which basically means they can refuse to place any bets but don’t limit their convenience to bet if they change their mind later on in the game. 

All in: When a player doesn’t have enough chips or “money” to call bets, they can choose to go all in, and hence, bet all of their chips.

Different forms of Poker 

A player who is adept at the game can play various forms of poker and understand the various different principles of betting. A poker hand, in most forms, consists of five cards. Various combinations range from five of the highest kind (highest rank), to no pair/nothing (lowest pair). While the general outlines of various forms of poker differ from one another, there is still the basic common set of steps everyone should be accustomed with:

  1. The game is played with a standard pack of 52 cards, and the cards are ranked from high to low- Ace>King>queen>jack>10>9>8>7>6>5>4>3>2>ace. To clear your doubts, aces can be both high or low, but are mostly high rank. Some variations may choose to use several packs of cards or add multiple jacks.
  2. Wild cards are present in come games, where the wild card can take on any suit and rank their possessor wants. Most of the time, joker cards are used as wild cards. 
  3. Poker is usually played with a “hand”, which is a basic group of five cards. A hand is played in the most popular poker games and stands as a standard ranking metric for most poker game
  4. Hands are also ranked on the basis of what cards they consist of. Here are some hands from highest rank to lowest: 
  • Royal flush: A straight suit from an ace to a ten with all five cards belonging to the same suit. 
  • Straight flush: Any straight suit with all five cards belonging to the same suit 
  • Four of a kind: Consists of any four cards of the same rank. If there are two players with an identical four of a kind, then the bigger fifth card of the two hands decides the winner. 
  • Full house: Any three cards with the same rank together with a different pair of cards with the same rank to each other. 
  • Flush: Any five cards belonging to the same suit. The highest card amongst the five is the deciding card for the rank of the flush. 
  • Straight: Any five consecutive ranked cards with varying suits. The aces can either be the highest or the lowest rank. 
  • Three of a kind: Any three cards of the same rank. The three of a kind aces with a king and a queen at the sides is the most powerful three of a kind hand there is. 
  • Two pair: Two cards of the same rank along with another pair of cards with the same rank. 
  • One pair: All of the cards with the same value can be taken as pairs. 
  • High card: Any hand that is not in the aforementioned hands. 

The Rise of Poker  in India

About until the 60s poker was a very alien concept to Indians. During the early 2000s, the game started to gain traction and popularity. Poker has since then quickly amassed millions of players, all owing to its low requirements and many features that Indians found to be super convenient for them. 

Thanks to word of mouth, a very simple set of rules, and an incredibly versatile nature, poker soon became one of the largest gambling-oriented games in India. This also meant that an Indian citizen who is academically inclined would very much so succeed in defeating a world class poker player with average intelligence, which gave many Indians an advantage. 

Initially, poker was played as a game meant to be enjoyed, but it wasn’t long afterwards that it soon became widely popular as a betting game, which made it all the more enjoyable amongst citizens. In the late 2000s, the poker industry was booming and along came the concept of playing it as an online game. First introduced in online Facebook communities, poker then quickly led to the advancement of the online gaming industry in India as well. 

Fast forward to today, the detrimental speed of popularity and technological advancements have both proven to give the journey of the game’s adoption in the country a bumpy ride for sure. The game’s popularity had once gone so out of control that it was proven to be detrimentally harmful to both the economy of the country and individuals as well. These days, the government has it all under control thanks to a new set of rules and regulations that helped gambling games in general gain just the right amount of exposure to the Indian population, and vice versa. 

Leading Indian Poker Players and their Achievements

With the likes of players like Raghav Bansal, Aditya Agarwal, Nikitha Luther, Abhinav Iyer, Aditya Sushant, etc., the poker scene in India has flourished like a flower. Here are some of the most prominent poker players in India and their achievements:

  • Raghav Bansal: sitting at the top five best Indian poker players of all time, Raghav Bansal is as much brains as brawns. Owing to his name a whopping $1094910 in recorded winnings, Raghav Bansal was the first ever Indian player to reach the finals in World Series of poker (WSOP). He also became the first Indian player to bank a whopping $337k in winnings at the poker stars Championship High Roller event, and has been the only Indian to bag the second place yet. 
  • Aditya Agarwal: one of the most prominent poker players in the world, Aditya Agarwal has numerous accolades to his name. With about $1.5m in winnings alone, Aditya Agarwal is a youngster with an undying passion for numbers and patterns, both of which are incredibly useful when playing poker . 
  • Nikitha Luther: The first and probably the only Indian woman to do so, Nikitha Luther has been the first ever Indian woman to win a WSOP bracelet with a prize money of over $175,000. Being the champion of the most coveted WSOP game, Luther is not your average poker player, and certainly isn’t one you would want to mess with. 
  • Vivek Rajkumar: Probably the best Indian poker player ever, Vivek has the greatest number of tournament wins to his name. With over 22+ international wins and over $8M of net worth, Vivek is right up there with the elites. 
  • Muskan Sethi: India’s first female professional poker player, Muskan also has several achievements to her name. She’s so famous that currently there is a biopic in production as well.

Outstanding Indian Poker Players and their Profiles

There are several notable Indian poker players who each have their own unique methodology of playing poker . If you’re a beginner poker player and need some amazing gameplay to learn from, make sure you study the game of these players:

  1. Vivek Rajkumar: The most decorated player in the country, Vivek is regarded as the top Indian poker player. Vivek won the top position at the World poker Tour Borgata poker Open Main Event, securing $1,424,500 in 2008. Known as the lucky underdog of the Indian poker scene, Vivek has some pretty good hands if you want to learn. 
  2. Nipun Java: Java’s big break came in 2014 when he won about usd 450000 in a single game. In 2017, he participated in the LA poker classic and took home a whopping usd 115k. He also was the rightful winner of not one, but two bracelets in 2017. He currently holds the second rank in India all time money list. 
  3. Aditya Agarwal: India’s third highest ranked cash winner and also a very prominent WSOP top player, Agarwal boasts of achievements that are no less than a feat to attain at such a young age. 
  4. Raghav Bansal: Nicknamed the “daddy” of the Indian poker face, Raghav has an incredibly unpredictable hand. With total reported earnings from winning exceeding USD 800k, Raghav is no less than a spectacle at the table. 
  5. Muskan Sethi: The country’s first professional female poker player, Sethi has paved the road for women who want to make their own mark in the world of poker , and has left quite a mark as well. 

Recognizable Notable Achievements 

Some of India’s most notable achievements in the world of poker : 

  1. Silver medal at WSOP 2023 by Anirban Das. 
  2. Nipun Java won the country’s first golden bracelet at WSOP, taking home more than 200k usd. 
  3. Aditya Agarwal secured the 2 position at Asia pacific poker tour in Macau, taking home more than H$1.9 million. Also, Agarwal is the first Indian to become a poker stars Pro. 
  4. Paawan Bansal took home USD 378k after securing 2nd position at WSOP 2018. 
  5. Nikunj Jhunjhunwala was the winner of the WSOP online bracelet 2020 and other high stake events. 
  6. Muskan Sethi paved the road for future female poker players by becoming the country’s first female poker player. One of the highest number of female poker achievements in the world. 

Conclusion

Poker is a game that takes minutes to get the hang of but years to master, and requires extensive skillfulness of the mind and the hand. Regardless, if you want to be good at poker , the aforementioned players are definitely some of the best people to look up to. Otherwise, you can play and enjoy it as a regular old party game as well.

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