Chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand to Announce India’s PSL Season 2 Teams

Legendary chess player Viswanathan Anand will be presiding the opening ceremony of the second edition of India’s Poker Sports League (PSL). On April 15, the famous Chess Grandmaster will announce the teams that will take part in Season 2 of the country’s very first poker league. Qualifiers for the tournament are currently running online and live while in the Grand Finale will be held in Goa next month.

As poker is quickly gaining popularity in India, several poker leagues have been established in the past couple of years, led by the Poker Sports League (PSL). Recently, it announced that Viswanathan Anand would be the PSL brand ambassador and will be promoting it via different media channels. Anand, who is a Chess Grandmaster and a former World Chess Champion, has compared the two games, saying that they are both games of skill. Admitting that he is intrigued by poker, the chess player is now stepping up to endorse it in India where it was illegal until 2015.

On Friday, the PSL said that Anand is to preside the opening ceremony for Season 2 of the increasingly popular poker league. He will unveil the twelve teams that will play during the Grand Finale events and will show the trophy that would be awarded to the top players in May. The opening ceremony will be held April 15 at the PlayBoy Club in Hotel Samrat in New Delhi.

The twelve teams of 10 players will compete against each other for a prize pool of INR3.6 crores, which is INR30.6 million or in US dollars – around $468,800. Each team consists of one mentor and captain, two pro players, two live qualifiers, three online qualifiers and two wild-card entrants. Tournament games will be in several formats, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha. One of the most important things is that the league is intended for Indian citizens, so there will be no foreign players qualifying for the tournament.

Improving Poker Image Drives India’s Growing Market

After a ruling in India’s Supreme Court last year, the government allowed states to allow playing online games of skill for money. While it all started with legalizing rummy, the liberalization of the laws in the country continued with allowing real money games for real money, as long as they are games of skill and not chance. In fact, poker operators and leagues, including the Poker Sports League, promote it as a sport, in which success is determined by skills and knowledge rather than luck. Apart from PSL, which was the first poker league to launch in India last year, there are several other events such as Match Indian Poker League and Global Poker League India. PokerStars has also entered the Indian market recently and its first tournament launches April 17.

Most of the poker tournaments in the country cater to Indian nationals and for instance, the PSL accepts only players from India. However, in order to improve its image even further, founders of the league have invited Viswanathan Anand as PSL brand ambassador. In addition, it will be introducing several non-Indian wildcard entrants. The first of them was announced late last month – Dylan Linde from the United States who has multiple awards, including a World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring. He has won $1.7 million in live tournaments, while his online winnings are close to $6 million.

With over 1.3 billion people, India is the second-most populous country (after China) and its newly created poker market has a huge potential for growth. PSL Season 1 reached to more than 4.5 million people on Facebook and the final was streamed to around a million poker fans across the country. The second edition will be streamed on Facebook and in addition, it will be telecast in June on the sports channel Dsport, which is part of the Discovery TV network.

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