From conducting online tournaments to events, Mumbai-based The Spartan Poker provides a secure online platform for poker players in India.
It was Diwali night. The circular table was occupied by eight players, with bets from each varying from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,00,000. Diwali night poker was serious business. The players ranged from beginners, amateurs and professionals to first-timers. From moans of ‘beginners luck’ to seasoned players with ‘poker faces,’ the game saw its highs and lows.
“You surely have several platforms and spaces to play the game and win, this small Diwali game must mean nothing to you,” said a slightly bitter and somewhat jealous 25-year-old Shalini to 34-year-old Priya, a banker. But Shalini didn’t realise how off the mark she actually was.
While traditional card games like poker are a favourite in India, the country lacks places and avenues for poker players. And that's precisely what 38-year-old co-founders of Indian Poker Championship Sameer Rottansey and Peter Abraham; 40-year-old Rajeev Kanjani, poker player and Founder of Aces Unlimited, a brand for poker tournaments; and 35-year-old Amin Rozani, a poker room operator and Director at Indian Poker Championship, missed in India.
After being a part of the industry for over five years, the foursome felt the need to replicate the idea of Poker Stars in India.
“We wanted to create a poker platform in India like Poker Stars where players can come forward and show their talent. We have managed to get to that level today,” says Amin.
They established The Spartan Poker in Mumbai in 2014 as a secure platform for poker players, which is trustworthy, dependent, and free of any kind of fraudulent activities.
What does it do?
The platform conducts tournaments on a daily basis, engaging a lot of players with attractive gifts and whopping prize money. This has encouraged plenty of players to come forward and play.
It not only holds top-level online events for its players, but also offers big guaranteed prizes, gaming software, and user experience. It also engages in various offline activities to promote poker among Indian gaming fanatics. All payment and transactions management infrastructure is built specifically to gratify the requirements of the Indian players, making it easier for them.
The gaming application ensures fair play by means of random number generator, which is certified internationally. “We want our players to have a good and wholesome experience when they visit our platform,” says Amin.
Building the team
Though they had the knowledge of the game, building a platform that rivalled Poker Stars was a challenge. It meant that they needed to get the right technical know-how and a team in place. “We were entering into unchartered territory,” says Amin.
Like in any startup, finding the right people with an understanding of the game and technical know-how was a challenge. Initially, it was just the four founders mulling things over and learning through trial and error. However, through mutual contacts and references, they started finding the right people for the team. Amin says,
“The essential thing is that every employee of The Spartan Poker understands poker. Right from the designers to the support team, each and every member understands what poker is. We are committed to great player value. We don’t identify our team as just employees, we look at them as player primarily."
"What makes us stand apart from our competitors is our tournaments and activities that we have from time to time. We have a number of events lined up the entire year with good amounts of prize money, which encourages our players to come forward and play,” adds Amin.
The Spartan Poker today has several experienced people as part of its setup and the team's philosophy is players first and then poker business professionals. This, Amin adds, helps them take into consideration things such as the kind of offerings that would interest and excite the players. “This is one of the key factors in our minds when we execute or even think of an idea,” says Amin.
Growth and market
While India might not be the best space for online poker, it still boasts of a number of platforms. Though not Indian, Texas Hold’em is quite popular. One of the biggest challenges of running an online poker platform in the country is government laws and regulations.
The Indian poker startup industry is currently pegged at $120 million. According to a report in The Economic Times, over 50,000 people play poker online on homegrown platforms such as Delta Corp-acquired Adda52 and Poker-Baazi.
True to this trend, The Spartan Poker team claims that the platform has grown 1,000 percent till date. Their flagship product, The Millionaire, a monthly tournament, has seen a substantial growth in the number of poker players on the site. Currently bootstrapped, The Spartan Poker intends to be one of the most reliable and trusted online poker platforms and the first choice of every poker player in India.