Adda52 concluded its poker championship, the Adda52 Champions Leaderboard (ACL) 2.0 on 19th February 2023. The event witnessed Goa-based lawyer Ram Kakkar (39-year-old) emerge as the winner of the ACL 2.0 and take home an Adda52 contract worth INR 20 lakh. The year-long leaderboard program delivered an action-packed poker battle finale where nine poker players competed for the winner’s title at the Deltin Royale, Goa. The entire event was also live-streamed.
BW Businessworld took this opportunity to speak to the ACL 2.0 winner Ram Kakkar and three other Adda52 Game Ambassadors to better understand the game, the misconceptions surrounding online gaming and of course, their outlook for the future of online gaming in the country. We also spoke to Adda52’s Chief Revenue Officer, Krishnendu Guha and pondered over key topics such as increasing competition in the real money gaming sector and the future of ‘skill-based’ gaming in India.
“All the players were amazing and the game was intense. It’s been a long journey and this win will take some time to sink in. I look forward to giving back to the game and the poker community, as part of the Adda52 team,” said Ram Kakkar, winner of ACL 2.0 and new Adda52 Game Ambassador. When asked about what’s next, Kakkar stated that he looks forward to improving his game and playing more.
“The live event was full of fun experiences like the fly dining and the yacht party, amongst other things. The finale itself was fun and a very good game against some very good players. To add to this, I am really excited to join Adda52 as one of their Game Ambassadors,’’ added Kakkar.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate the ACL 2022 champion and runner-up. The ACL 2022 Finale featured a remarkable poker match while also generating an electrifying atmosphere for the spectators,” said Krishnendu Guha, Chief Revenue Officer, Adda52.
Gone are the days when real-money gaming or as it has been referred to quite recently, ‘skill-based gaming’ was looked down upon. As an industry, online gaming has come a long way. Leaving the social stigma behind, online gaming has gradually become a full-fledged career for many. Online Poker seemed to be no different. During our conversation with Krishnendu Guha, we talked about the future of online gaming and the vision of Adda52 going forward. “The vision has always been to build something grand for poker players and help them take their game to the next level,” added Guha.
The series of conversations did not end there. We also interacted with Adda52 Game Ambassadors Maria Kirloskar, Arun Sriram and Pratibha Arya. We talked about everything poker and tried to understand the intricacies of the game. We even attempted to clear out myths and misconceptions regarding the game.
“You have to do a lot of mental work and be the best version of yourself,” said Maria Kirloskar, professional poker player and Adda52 Game Ambassador. Along with being a player, Kirloskar is also a mental coach, which clearly reflected in how she conducted herself. She has been playing poker for about 8 years, 4 of which she has spent coaching poker players on improving their mindset in order to further their journey to peak performance. Kirloskar constantly emphasised the importance of a champion’s mindset. “There is a technical as well as mental aspect to poker. You need to program and train yourselves in equity, mathematics, technique and the fundamentals. It’s a very complex and layered game,” added Kirloskar.
Hailing from Bengaluru, Arun Sriram is an entrepreneur turned professional poker player. His journey from building a healthcare tech company to the poker table is indeed an intriguing one. Sriram was named the Adda52 Game Ambassador after being crowned as the 2021 Adda52 Champions Leaderboard winner. “In the longer run, skill will beat luck,” stated Arun Sriram, professional poker player and Adda52 Game Ambassador when he was asked about the importance of luck in the game. “You can be the best batsman in the world and get out in the first ball. A few losses do not make you the worst in the world and a few wins don’t make you the best in the world. A single coin flip is not what you’re looking for,” added Sriram.
Our penultimate interaction of the day was with online poker pro Pratibha Arya. Starting her career back in 2017, the New Delhi resident chose a career in online poker despite being offered a job at Adobe. Arya has also represented and won various awards internationally at the Asian Nations Cup held in Bangkok and Oxford, London. She also holds a WPT trophy in the WPT 6-Max India championship held on Adda52. Arya’s views on online poker being a skill-based game rather than a game of chance were similar to her colleagues.
She emphasised that skills such as critical thinking and analytical thinking are crucial if one decides to get into online gaming for the long haul. “For poker, you need to be diligent. I am a player who studied the game first and then became a player. There are so many intricacies and nuances that you tend to miss out on if you don’t put in the work,” said Pratibha Arya, professional online poker player and Adda52 Game Ambassador. When asked about how one should approach the game if one wants to better their game, Arya strongly advocated for building discipline. “Studying takes discipline. You need to study the game, apply those teaching in poker and keep getting better. You need to build the discipline to learn, discipline to study and the discipline to play,” added Arya.
The ‘game of skill’ argument is more than just a defence for real money games. A game like poker, for instance, is filled with techniques and complexities and demands a huge amount of mental fortitude as well. Tasks such as course correction, strategising, handling losses and learning from past experiences make this game more than just something that can be associated with a single-dimensional term like ‘luck’.
It is safe to say that online gaming has evolved over the years and so has people’s perception of it. With a predicted CAGR of 25 per cent by 2027, it’s loud and clear that the growth of the Indian online gaming sector (4th largest in the world) will only continue to grow.