Until recent times, poker streaming was a craze in India that drew very few followers. In reality, since a few years ago, the count of Indian poker streamers was restricted to only a handful of poker professionals.
All of this is quickly evolving immediately now. Recently, there has been an avalanche of individuals who have taken up live-streaming. There isn't a week that goes by without a new Young Gun live-stream. Shobhit Bhargava, Aditya Wadhwani, Chirag Sodha, Jaideep Sajwan, and others. Siddharth Karia, Raj Juneja, Anujkumar Kodam, Kshitij Kucheria, and others.
Was the lockdown-forced poker streaming mania a good way to spend your time? Perhaps for few, but the craze has clearly taken hold, and it's affecting the poker industry's dynamics. Online poker sites have spotted an option and are enlisting the help of some of these players to live-stream their tournaments.
One of the Indian Poker information based site caught up with a few of their own "desi" streamers to know their streaming motive.
Now let us discover what motivates them to stream and what they think about this incredibly entertaining hobby that also serves as a treasure mine of knowledge for newcomers.
In India, streaming is gaining popularity
The count of Indian poker broadcasters is growing week after week, and it includes everyone from industry veterans to seasoned regs and up-and-coming pros. Is this, however, a major shift in the domestic poker industry, or is it simply a lockdown-driven trend? Let us explore the same.
List of Indian Poker Live Streamers
Aditya Wadhwani, a well-known commentator, believes that streaming is here to remain.
“It was always going to pick up, and the lockdown was undoubtedly a catalyst for where we are now,” he stated.
Season 1 of Wadhwani's chat show "It's Your Turn (IYT) With Aditya Wadhwani" was only the beginning, and he aims to live-stream on a regular basis, as well as have "huge schemes in the works" for IYT Season 2 once his at-home studio is ready.
The similar thought was expressed by Chirag Sodha, who has presented
d four live streams on PokerBaazi's YouTube channel.
“I believe the lockdown pushed more people in this route, but now that we can see its benefits, I expect it should continue to gain popularity.”
Initially, he explored with streaming from his own Twitch channel. “I was curious as to how it would be! We eventually decided that a handful of us could jump on board and stream on the PokerBaazi channel to reach a wider audience, and so far it's been a success.”
There's a new generation of Poker Streamers on the rise
Whether it's regs, newbies, or newcomers, a new generation of poker players has taken to live-streaming their games, and the players are going all out on it!
Streaming began for Kshitij Kucheria as a way to avoid boredom and to stay inspired to play. He's been streaming for three months and is continually improving his skills.
“Because of the lockdown, I witnessed a lot of people playing online poker, but they were doing it terribly... So I figured I'd just make some stuff to help others practise and learn,” Kucheria told a Poker site who interviewed him.
While Jaideep Sajwan created his YouTube channel New World Nomads, he had travel vlogging on his head. He opted to devote two months to produce poker material after learning that the COVID-19 pandemic might disrupt his year's trip and WSOP preparations.
“I had intended to do a few lighthearted poker episodes, and streaming was simply an afterthought.”
Sajwan's streams are energetic, and he frequently brings other guests on the air, such as Chirag Sodha and Sumit Sapra. Despite Sajwan's claims that this was only a two-month content creation project, there's a good probability he'll keep streaming.
Aside from the typical poker rules, there are newcomers like Shobhit Bhargava from New Delhi, who has only been playing poker for a year and a half but has a natural talent for livestream. His streams are lively and engaging, and it is noticeable that he goes above and beyond when it comes to editing to keep up with demand.
Bhargava has been one of the most active streamers, since he streams three times a week on YouTube, Twitch, and Instagram under his channel 569poker.Bhargava explained, noting that he also wants to dispel the misconception that streaming is just for professionals.
I started following a number of poker streamers around 1.5 years ago after falling in love with the game; yet, finding a regular ‘Indian' poker streamer was impossible. So it got me thinking about what it takes to put up a good quality stream.
Poker Streaming is enjoyable
Siddharth Karia commenced live-streaming his tournament routine on PokerBaazi as an experiment and a boost to his regular poker activity.
Karia turns out to be a natural in the genre, and he admits to liking it thus far.
You think it will be fun?! According to MoneyMaker winner Anuj Kodam, that, plus a lot of hard effort, are the keys to success.
It's a unique experience, a little scary the first time since you just talk to yourself for hours, Kodam said, explaining that it all depends on one's comfort zone, and streaming in general is a booming arena that will help the game gain visibility.
Indeed, poker streaming is really not simple, as former PokerStars India streaming ambassador Sharad Rao can explain.
The brilliant Pune poker pro has been absent from the game for some time, however when we talked with him about it, he was keen to point out, “
India is seeing a boom in poker content creation
If you take a look at the international poker industry, you will notice that there are a lot of broadcast shows, videos, blogs, and other types of content centred around the game that everyone enjoy very much, poker. Yet, there has been a limitation of such poker content in India throughout the years, which we believe will improve in the future.
During the last few years, the Indian poker landscape has changed more rapidly than anyone could have predicted, with a large proportion of users who play treating it as a full-time opportunity.
Remember the good old days when only 40-50 people attended live poker events. We now see 600+ entries in big live events in India on a monthly basis, the majority of which take place in Goa! Various online poker websites are also growing in popularity with each day.
Whereas the numbers are continually growing now, it is also critical to have enough content and material for newcomers to reference. Study materials are essential, and a number of companies and individuals have turned to mentoring and coaching/staking to ensure that young people don't lose a lot of money playing poker without fully comprehending the game's complexities.
Numerous Indian and international professionals have also revealed that they spend the most of their time learning by viewing videos of the best in the industry. Poker After Dark, Dolly's Game, Poker Night in America, PokerStars Shark Cage, and more shows are regularly streamed on OTT platforms and watched by thousands of fans across the world.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP), European Poker Tour (EPT), World Poker Tour (WPT), and other major poker tournaments regularly live broadcast their final round, allowing fans to observe how the best players respond to various situations on the felts. Such content is joyfully consumed in this age of digital media and ease of access.
YOUTUBE Poker Streamers
Previous IPC Main Event champion Richard Haridasoham was one of the first to start a poker series on YouTube, with his ‘Pokerrajas' series of poker podcasts featuring some of the most well-known names in the Indian industry, such as Sangeeth Mohan, Abhineet Jain, Amin Rozani, Abhishek Jalan, Alex Dreyfus, Maria Kirloskar, as well as others. Take a listen to his most recent podcast, which aired in December 2017.
Raj Juneja is another streamer who has been capturing his tours on a regular basis, and also interviewing players, and analysing live events all over the world through his vlogs. Juneja has been continuously providing entertaining content for the audience through his YouTube channel, Poker Life India.
TWITCH Poker Streamers
If you are not aware, let us tell you that Twitch is the world's top video live streaming service for gamers, and although millions of people use it throughout the world, it hasn't really taken off in India.
Most popular games such as Dota 2, Counter-Strike and Fortnite are frequently streamed on this platform, skilled poker players use it as well though, with Jaime Staples, Jonathan Little, Parker Talbot, Jason Somerville (230k+ followers), and several others among the most well-known Twitch poker streams.
In India, a few pros, including Pune-based Sharad Rao, tried their hardest to popularise the platform. He was eventually signed as a dedicated Twitch live streamer and ambassador by PokerStars India.
Content Education with Poker Courses
Worldwide poker brands such as Run It Once, Raise Your Edge, MasterClass, Upswing Poker, and others have been providing e-learning opportunities to people who wish to gain a deeper understanding of, and ultimately enhance their game. Some of the brightest brains are behind such online courses, such as Spanish pro Fedor Holz, who teamed up with other players to develop Pokercode, a website featuring a plethora of online poker courses available.
This teaching can take the form of podcasts, films, hand review sessions, and a variety of other formats. These platforms haven't been established in India, but a few are learning and preparing to offer their services to the poker community.
The Big Stack University is one of them.
After collaborating with some of India's finest players and hiring them as trainers, the firm launched Big Stack University in October 2019. Abhishek Goindi, Pratibha Arya, and Prabhat Mukherjea have generated a wealth of content for anyone willing to pay for access to their knowledge, encompassing a wide range of topics.
Consider the sport of cricket. Cricket is what we feed, enjoy living, and drink. Live matches, highlights packages, interviews, TV shows, games, and sometimes even movies about the sport are all available. In India, we must also get to that point with poker. Spartan Poker recently partnered with SNG Comedy for a series called "Around The Table," which is an example of some of India's leading poker websites actively providing interesting poker material for the community.
9stacks, on the other hand, is another firm dedicated to providing high-quality material to its users, be it in the form of online series, rap songs, or other forms of entertainment.
Indian streamers have a long way to go before they can compete with international streamers, but like poker itself, poker streaming has the potential to grow significantly in India. Now let us show some appreciation to this dedicated group of broadcasters by watching their poker streaming and encouraging them to continue producing high-quality material for the rapidly expanding Indian poker community!