Online poker has been gaining in popularity among Indian gamers for over a decade. However, not every Indian poker player has earned a positive reputation. Indian players have only won a modest fraction of major tournaments.
In India, poker has established itself as a much prominent sport. In the world of poker, there are a number of excellent players who are building a name for themselves and now flourishing. They are the forerunners in displaying amazing Poker skills and competence on both domestic and international Poker felts.
The ability to play poker online has catapulted the game into the mainstream, where it has found a receptive audience. In India, about 430 million smartphone users nowadays are able to access high-quality foreign poker sites without fear of government retaliation.
Poker is the most popular skill-based game, with players competing for both fun and profit. Though it is still in its infancy, this skill game is quickly catching on with the Indian public. Indian poker players are already generating headlines around the world.
Many professionals, such as lawyers, MBAs, engineers, and others, are quitting their well-paid jobs to devote their full attention to poker. They compete in both national and international competitions, such as the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. In such competitions, the prize money is enormous.
Here are some notable players who have become role models for budding poker players in the India.
Rajkumar is a poker player from India.
He was born in India, but due to his parents' desire to relocate, he was raised in Singapore and then Seattle when his family relocated to the United States.
He quit his job at Microsoft in 2008 to pursue a career as a high-stakes professional pokemon player.
In the same year, he took home $1,424,500 in the World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open Main Event. As a large underdog, he won two remarkable hands: one with pocket Tens vs pocket Aces before the flop, and the other with Ace Jack versus Ace-Queen. He would have been knocked out if either hand had been taken away.
He is a former professional poker player who began practising mind games full-time in 2006. Rajkumar had relocated to the United States to pursue his computer engineering degree. He became addicted to poker because of his great interest in mathematics. He was a regular on the live poker circuit, cashing five times at the 2007 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
He's also went on to win field events like the $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em event at the 2008 L.A. Poker Classic and the $9,900 No-Limit Hold'em event at the 2009 L.A. Poker Classic.
Vivek joined to the live circuit as soon as he was of legal age, having gathered knowledge via online play. Vivek made it to the final table of the Party Poker Million for two weeks in a row, only three months into his professional poker career.
Vivek Rajkumar was already waging intense battles in international events at a time when poker was just breaking ground in India as a brain sport. He became interested in poker after watching Chris Moneymaker win the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event on TV. For the first few years, he only played online.
Metric Gaming, a live sports gambling operator powered by digital technology, and CommonLounge, an online tutorial hub that offers education on a variety of themes, are among the companies in which he has invested.
Vivek continues to be India's most valuable and ace poker player, with over $8,080,012 in the total live earnings and has a total online poker earnings of $527,209. Though he still competes in some major tournaments, Vivek retired from professional poker in 2011 and focused on his passions for technology and entrepreneurship.
Without a question, the highest-earning Indian poker pro to date. Also, he's won a World Poker Tour event and finished in the money at many World Series of Poker tournaments.
Rajkumar is currently at the no.1 on India All Time Money List and his All Time Money List Current Rank is 137th, making him currently the top Indian poker player.
Nipun Java, who hails from New Delhi, is a very well-known figure on the live poker scene in the United States. His first major victory came in the 2009 LA Poker Open Championship Event, where he finished fifth and won $34,650. One of his most memorable victories came in 2014, when he won the WSOP Circuit No Limit Hold'em Main Event for $226,785 and the famous WSOP Circuit ring.
Nipon Java, was born in New Delhi but he currently resides in the United States and plays mostly in the US live poker circuits.
Prior until 2014, Nipun Java was a rather unremarkable player who occasionally put in a decent turnout. His major break, though, came in 2014, when he earned almost $450,000. He earned $114,955 for finishing second in a $1600 side event at the L.A. poker classic. In the same year, he took first place in the WSOP Circuit Bicycle $1,675 Main Event, winning $226,785. When he and Aditya Sushant joined up for the 48th WSOP $1,000 Tag Team event and won a WSOP bracelet for India, they made history.
Java has been playing poker in the United States since 2009, but he gained prominence when he finished 5th in the LA Poker Open Championship Event in Los Angeles for USD$34,650. Despite routinely cashing in most of the tournaments he entered over the years, he did not win a significant amount of money until July 2013, when he won the Larry Flynt Grand Slam of Poker $170 No Limit Holdem (NLH) for USD $39,000.
2014 was an exceptional year for Java. Java finished second in the WPT – LA Poker Classic No Limit Hol'dem Playboy $500,000 Guarantee event in February, taking up USD$114,955. And then his next major victory occurred at the 46th WSOP 6-Handed Pot Limit Event (PLO) in 2015, where he came within one place of winning a bracelet.
Year after year, Java found himself in the cash, making final tables and cashing for five figures in the majority of the tournaments he entered.
It is every poker player's ambition to earn the most coveted title in the game, and Nipun Java realised his dream back in 2017 summers by winning not one but two gold bracelets.
It transformed his life When he joined up with Aditya Sushant in the $1,000 Tag Team Event in 2017.
In 2017, at the 48th WSOP $1,000 Tag Team event, he made history. Java and Sushant earned the most prestigious trophy in the poker world — a WSOP Bracelet – by forming a last-minute partnership with Aditya Sushant from India, who is more commonly seen on the Asian circuit. They were the final team standing and took home the USD$150,000 first-place prize. Nipun recieved USD$75,318 for his portion of the effort.
Nipun has a total online poker earnings of $469,353 and a total live earnings of $2,736,280, making him the second highest-paid Indian poker player of all time. His best win occurred on the WSOP Circuit in Cherokee in 2016, when he took home $16,280.
He also cashed at the WSOP Circuit in Los Angeles in 2016, winning $1,430 and placing eighth in the No Limit Hold' Em Ring Event. Java has the most titles and bracelets of any Indian poker player.
On India's All Time Money List, Java is now at number two, whereas on Global All Time Money List, he is at 611th rank.
Aditya Agarwal was one of the few Indians seen playing at the WSOP for a long time — he was among the first group of Indian players to attend the WSOP on a regular basis since 2006.
He excels in online competitions and cash games, and has won over $2,201,866 as a result.
His total online earnings are over $1,138,065, while the rest of the money has come from live events where he has managed to cash out.
Aditya Agarwal has earned money in virtual competitions and has made headlines in the United States after cashing out in significant WSOP events. He is the country's third-highest ranked successful cash winner. Agarwal won the No Limit Hold'Em Main Event Championship for $18,714 in 2017.
Agarwal, who relocated to the United States for higher education and eventually became a poker pro, won his first live cash at the 2007 World Series of Poker.
The poker pioneer has a scorecard littered with deep WSOP runs after more than 13 years of playing the yearly series, and is widely regarded as one of the toughest Indian opponents on the WSOP felts. If statistics are to be believed, ‘Intervention' has the highest score ever achieved by an Indian at the WSOP — a total of 41, worth $558,720 (Rs. 3.93 crores) in earnings..
Aditya Agarwal, like many others in the early 2000s, grew enamoured with poker after watching Chris Moneymaker win the WSOP Main Event on television. At the age of 21, he changed careers and began his poker career. He was a regular at the WSOP and won $34,313 at the EPT Barcelona in 2007.
Agarwal is a committed poker coach in addition to being an icon of Indian poker. Agarwal has actively taught a lot of players and encouraged them to play in Las Vegas and other international destinations, displaying a vision that surpasses his age. Agarwal was chosen as the first Team PokerStars ambassador from India by online poker giant PokerStars, and is one of the few Indians that passionately plays the whole WSOP calendar each year. However, in December 2019, Aditya, along with Argentinian pro Leo Fernandez, decided to leave PokerStars after 5 years of success.
He topped the Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) Colossus 200K Main Event two years ago, in the year May 2019, an
d took home $44,784 in tournament earnings.
Agarwal considers himself fortunate because, despite the fact that it was prohibited at the time, his parents backed him in his decision to pursue poker as a career.
Aditya Agarwal is one of India's top poker players who prefers to let his cards speak for themselves.
Agrawal has been a driving force behind the growth of poker in India, and he is known for giving novices advise and teaching.
Aditya is currently at the no.3 on India All Time Money List with more over 80 cashes noted in his poker CV and with a total of live earnings around $1,138,065, whereas his All Time Money List Current Rank is 1,801,st making him currently the top-third Indian poker player.
Raghav was born and raised in the Indian capital of Delhi.
His interest in poker grew when he began playing with his buddies for fun, but he soon became addicted to the game and began focused on serious play. Raghav competed in and won a number of high-profile poker tournaments, including the DPT and WSOP.
Raghav Bansal is a well-known figure in the Indian poker industry.
Raghav Bansal is one of the most eminent poker players in India. His in-depth knowledge of the game and no-nonsense demeanour set him apart from other poker players, and he is well-liked in the poker world.
His overall profits are $735,024, with his live cash earnings accounting for $335,910 of that. Bansal's recent accomplishments include winning $25,000 at the Macau Poker Cup. He also took home Rs 3,060,000 in the Deltin Poker Tournament's No Limit Hold'Em Main Event at the Deltin Royale in Goa.
Raghav Bansal is regarded as one of India's greatest poker ever players.
Raghav Bansal began playing poker when he was in college. This poker enthusiast is one of the game's most committed players. He took the decision to go professional in 2014 and hasn't looked back since. In January 2016, he won the DPT Main Event and took home $ 45,214 in prize money. Bansal won his highest payout of $ 335,910 in April 2017 when he finished second at the PokerStars Championship.
Raghav created history by becaming the first Indian poker player to share the final table at the 2015 World Series of Poker, making India proud. In 2017, he finished a close second in the Pokerstars Championship High Roller Event, becoming the first Indian to bank $337k in the last decade.
Bansal's overall profits are 1,094,910 dollars, with his live cash earnings accounting for $335,910 of that amount.
Raghav is currently at the no.4 on India All Time Money List and his All Time Money List Current Rank is 1875th. Apart from poker, Bansal is a keen football lover who also enjoys golf.
Abhinav Iyer is a professional poker player from Mumbai, India, who is currently rated fifth in the country. In his lifetime, he made more than USD 870,437.00 from poker live events solely. Iyer placed 73rd in the 50,000 No-Limit Hold'em – Main Event event at the India Poker Championship (IPC) in Goa in January 2020.
Iyer began playing lower stakes private cash games with his college pals while pursuing his undergraduate education in India. Over the course of a few years, Iyer began to realise that this may be more than a pastime. Then he met up with friends and discussed how to take poker strategy seriously and develop.
In April of 2018, he won his first event for more than $10,000. At the Macau Millions, he finished fourth in the HK8,000 NLHE event. For that performance, he was paid HK95,324 ($12,143 at the time).
In total, he has participated in more than thirty-eight poker events. His biggest cash victory in his career to date was more than USD 565,346.00 in a single live game.
The Closer — $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em was one event where India's Abhinav Iyer earned a name for himself.
Abhinav Iyer, who hails from Chennai, made history in 2019 by becoming the third Indian to win a WSOP bracelet. Iyer won a total of $565,346 in addition to the coveted gold bracelet.
For his victory, Iyer received 1,200 Card Player Player of the Year points in addition to the cash. At the $1500 Closer event, it was truly a big day for Iyer as he earned his first-ever bracelet.
Aside from his bracelet win, his highest payout is a paltry $6,657 from the same year. He earned it by placing 274th in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker competition.
After Nipun Java (2017; California-based), Aditya Sushant (2017), and Nikita Luther (2017), Abhinav Iyer is the fourth Indian-origin player to grab a bracelet (2019). The bracelets for the last three were won in tag team competitions.
Many poker players on the Indian circuit started the year off on a high note. Some won feature tournaments on popular online platforms and took advantage of a fantastic lineup of events at the beginning of the year, but none had it quite like Abhinav Iyer.
He also won the Asian Poker Tour (APT) No Limit Hold'em - Main Event in January 2019, bringing his total earnings to $ 98,055. He is one of the most well-known Indian poker players.
Latest he earned PHP2.888 million in the WPT Asia Online Series' PHP80,000 WPT Philippines tournament in 2020.
Abhinav Iyer is currently at the no. 5th on India All Time Money List with a total live cash earnings of $870,437 and his All Time Money List Current Rank is 2,446th, making him currently one among the top five best Indian poker player.
Ankit Ahuja, now 34-year-old business and technology consultant in the gaming sector from Delhi, India, has been playing professional poker actively for just over two years. On India's All-Time Money List, he is now ranked sixth. Ahuja has over $600,000 in live tournament cashes, according to The Hendon Mob.
In 2018, Ankit Ahuja took down DeepStack Championship Event #75 $1,100 NLH MonsterStack $1M GTD winning $266,824 and a beautiful and highly coveted trophy.
“Started playing poker in college like most others in my generation. Poker is an evolving game and the learning process is lifelong - just like anything else in life. Still playing, still learning although I do other things as well. Not a full-time poker pro.
India has some amazing poker players, hence the future looks bright although regulations are still not clear. So the poker ecosystem in India can be a bit shady at times. Once the regulations are objectively defined, I think it will create a more robust as well as straightforward system in India. I am a gaming and blockchain entrepreneur and probably would still be doing that along with poker on the side”, Ankit Ahuja told JustGamblers exclusively.
“I’m 33 years old, was born and brought up in Delhi. My family still lives there, and I go to visit them pretty often. I moved out of India when I was 17 and since then, have stayed abroad. I did spend a couple of years back in India, I think between 2012-2013, but then I moved to Europe. Over the last few months, I’ve just been traveling a fair bit.””
“When I was in India in 2012, after I moved out of the US, I tried my hand at various things. I knew that poker is a game that can be beaten, and its a skill game. So I was just very competitive about it”, Ankit Ahuja told pokerguru in an exclusive interview with them
“I’m still a recreational player who just likes to crush pros (chuckles). No, on a serious note, I am very competitive about poker. I obviously want to be the best that I can be and play to the best of my ability, but being a full-time poker pro, I don’t know if I would call myself that. Maybe a semi-professional. The goal is always to win tournaments or to win money, to do well, and it should be realistic. The plan is to do what I enjoy. I enjoy the freedom that poker has given me”, he added.
Ankit Ahuja, who hails from Delhi, won the PokerStars Red Dragon Manila High Roller event and took home $6,112,000 in prize money. After surviving the 101-player field, he defeated Malaysia's Natalie Teh in a heads-up match. This was Ahuja's second-best career payout, bringing his total live tournament winnings to more than $600,000.
Ankit Ahuja is currently at the no. 6th on India All Time Money List with a total live cash earnings of $747,900 and Best Live Cash of $330,134, while his All Time Money List Current Rank is 2,873rd, making him currently one among the top-10 best Indian poker player.
Aditya Sushant, a young Chennai-based professional, is certainly one of the country's most gifted poker players, and it's no wonder that he has 17 WSOP cashes on his poker CV, totaling $255,392 (Rs. 1.77 crores).
Aditya Sushant also known as Sushi, the country's seventh-ranked poker player, is only the 2690th best player in the world, with total career wins of just over $6,60,000. His biggest live cash win is $75,319, and he has won $75,319 in total.
Sushant first became interested in poker over a decade ago i.e. in 2010, and within a short period, he had won back-to-back titles. Sushant has already cashed in 23 WSOP tournaments, making him a well-known player in the Indian poker scene.
He also met Aditya Agarwal, who recognised that Sushant was not only a gifted player with great potential, but also possessed the determination of a champion.
In 2014, Agarwal's mentee scored his first WSOP score - a modest 94th place finish at $1,000 NLHE Turbo for $2,293 (1.60 lakhs).
Sushant was one of the finest players India has ever produced, so his hard work, passion and passion for poker earned him the biggest win of his career.
Sushant earned a stunning $42,285 (29.57 lakhs) for finishing 216th in the $10,000 Main Event in 2016, and the following year he rose to fame in a single tournament. Sushant won his first bracelet by teaming up with Nipun Java in the $1,000 Tag Team NLHE. The triumph remains his best WSOP performance to date, as does the $75,319 paycheque that Sushant received is the highest prize he's ever won in a WSOP tournament.
Sushant, the country's very own poker pro who brought home India's first-ever World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelet added another championship to his impressive poker CV back in 2020 last year, needs no introduction.
Aditya Sushant, from Chennai, won the SSS Millionaire INR 1 Crore GTD tournament on Spartan Poker the previous year.
The country's 7th-placed all-time poker champion demonstrates that the country has no position in the poker globe. The seventh best poker player in the country is just the 5,480th best poker player in the world, with total career winnings of just over $3,00,000. Rankings are meaningless at this level of poker and are subject to change on a daily basis.
Sushant is also ranked 2,690th in the Global Poker Index, with a popularity ranking of 2,968th due to which he is virtually unknown both at home and abroad. His biggest live cash win is $75,319, and his total live earnings are slightly over $675,297.
Paawan Bansal first experienced poker when one of his friends brought him to the game during his first week at Singapore University. He began with $2 buy-ins and worked his way up to $5-$10 buy-ins while playing with his friends. Paawan used to think poker was more of a luck-based game like Teen Patti when he saw the same few players win large, but that changed over time.
Later on, he began to believe that when a poker player employs his skills correctly, he will win.
Paawan Bansal who hails from Meerut rose to prominence after placing second in the NLH Knockout Event at Macau Poker Cup 27 in 2017. In the tournament, he took home HK$71,624 in prize money.
He also won a staggering amount of $75000 at the NLH Event No. 5 when he took first place. Then there was July 2018, when he finished second in the 49 WSOP NLH The Closer Event No 75 and took home $378765.
In Event #75, India's Bansal came in second. $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em (30-minute levels) - $1 Million Guaranteed The Closer Indian challengers have had a thrilling run at the 2018 World Series of Poker in more ways than one. Bansal, who missed out on his first WSOP bracelet, set a new career-high with a score of INR2.60 crore.
And over time, he became more and more interested in poker, carrying out a research, knowing more and more about it, and watching a lot of videos on YouTube of high-stakes poker players and the movements they make.
He quickly learned the abilities and is now one of the finest Indian poker players after trying his hand at Zynga for over a year and experimenting with new approaches
Paawan, as in the game, dealt his cards correctly in real life. He was given a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with PokerBaazi because of his astute tactics and impeccable talents. He jumped on board right away, not losing any time. He chose PokerBaazi because he admired how much they cared about their consumers and how they continued to set great industry standards.
Paawan is also ranked 2,837th in the Global Poker Index, with a popularity ranking of 7,354th due to which he is currently one among the top ten best Indian poker players. His biggest live cash win is $378,765, and his total live earnings are slightly over $650,399.
As the situation improves, Paawan Bansal intends to travel as much as possible. He enjoys going on trips and competing in various circuits and international tournaments. He wants to focus on the game and improve his talents. One of Paawan's main objectives is to win a bracelet at the World Series of Poker.
Bansal's, at present is ranked eighth on India All Time Money List while his All Time Money List Current Rank is 3,326th.
Dhaval Mudgal is an Indian poker player who lives in New Delhi. In his career, he earned more than USD 527,853.00 from poker events alone. He finished eighth at the 235,000 + 15,000 No-Limit Hold'em – Red Dragon High Roller tournament in Red Dragon Manila in January 2020.
The elegance of poker is that anyone can win, and last night's Godfather was proof of that, as newcomer 'bustedflop' won the tournament after outlasting many notable regs in the field, including musician, turned pro Dhaval Mudgal, who had already won Adda52's Godfather 8.0 and added another final table score to his online poker resume by finishing in the beginning of 2020.
Talking about Mudgal, who is now ranked 9th on the India All-Time Money List, he is one of the most active players on the Asian Circuit, with a total live earnings of $506,243. While the 2018 WPT Vietnam Main Event champion has more than a dozen FT finishes on adda52.com, his runner-up finish last year was his third final table in the site's Godfather tournament.
Dhaval Mudgal has competed in a total of 84 poker tournaments and is currently rated ninth in India. Winning more than USD 104,418.00 in a single live tournament was his most significant cash event.
Dhaval Mudgal is currently at the no. 9th on India All Time Money List with a total live cash earnings of $527,853 and Best Live Cash of $104,418, while his All Time Money List Current Rank is 4,124th, making him currently one among the top-10 best Indian poker player.
Kunal Patni is a well-known professional poker player and Adda52 Pro who has been dazzled the poker industry with his abilities since 2012.
Patni was brought to poker by some acquaintances, and he became interested in playing professionally after that. He became serious about poker and began competing in significant online and offline tournaments such as the WSOP, WPT, APPT, Macau Poker Cup, DPT, IPC, and others.
Kunal plays poker online and competes in poker tournaments all over the world, earning thousands of dollars at each employment, according to Yourstory. Doesn't it sound lovely? However, his professional life was not always that easy. Kunal held a regular employment as a private banker for almost 13 years, working with corporations such as IIFL, HSBC, Birla, and others.
With his extraordinary Poker techniques and skills, he has achieved remarkable success at the tables and has become one of the largest moneymakers.
Kunal Patni is a Mumbai-based Indian cashier. In 2018, he won €96,140 by coming second at the WPT DeepStacks Berlin No-Limit Hold'em event. He also finished second in the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Manila in the same year, earning $960,000.
Kunal told Yourstory that he performs five days a week, but Sunday is his busiest day. “Most online contests take place in the night. Sundays, he adds, are the busiest days for online tournaments.He plays poker from Wednesday to Sunday and spends Mondays and Tuesdays with his family or studying the game.
Kunal Patni is also ranked 2,848th in the Global Poker Index, with a popularity ranking of 4,533rd. His biggest live cash win is $115,819, and his total live earnings are slightly over $469,948. Kunal is currently at the no.10 on India All Time Money List whereas his All Time Money List rank is 4,685th making him one of the top-10 Indian most successful poker players.
Online Poker's popularity in India
Regarding online gaming or betting, India has emerged as a promising market. The online iGaming sector in India is undergoing enormous evolution as a result of widespread adoption and advancement in technology, and it has become one of the fastest-growing industries among others.
When it comes to the popularity of online gambling in India, poker is unquestionably the most popular game.
The development of mobile poker gaming in nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Europe has resulted in phenomenal growth.
The India Poker Championship has been the nation's largest and most influential poker tournament since its inception in 2010. The IPC, which is based at offshore casinos in Panjim, Goa, runs every other month throughout the year.
The sector is taking a large market share of the Indian online gaming industry, thanks to the digital era's rise and stay-at-home orders owing to the COVID pandemic. In India, the amount of internet poker players is steadily increasing, with more than 3 million active players at the moment.
History was created with the first ever live streaming poker event in India took place at the end of 2020. The Final Table Series, which was organised by the same folks that put on the India Poker Championship, was set to take place in November, during Diwali week.
The online poker series was created to bring together some of India's top-notch, most competent, and experienced poker players on a virtual platform, where they could compete for enormous prizes while giving millions of people with at-home entertainment.
The game has gained popularity in Tier three and four cities as well, thanks to the availability of low-cost high-speed Internet and budget-friendly mobile devices.
There is a lot of awareness in smaller cities as well, thanks to social media.
Despite the fact that poker is commonly recognised as a skill game, the legal answer to the question "is playing poker for real money allowed in India?" varies from state to state
While poker does contain aspects of chance, it is mostly a game involving significant skill, probability, and game theory. The Indian Constitution's allows states the authority to enact laws on betting and gaming, with each state having its own interpretation of whether or not poker comes within that category. States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and Telangana have banned poker. However, you can enjoy playing poker online legally in the rest of the nation.
According to common perception, poker success is solely determined by the amount of money won, that's why we've compiled a list of the best Indian poker players who have earned the most money in tournaments throughout the world. It's an enticing list, and the quantities of money involved will make you want to drop everything you're doing and join an online poker game.
The poker world is one of the most recent sectors to be impacted by the digital revolution, with online games accessible at any time and AI technology that can compete with the top players in the world.