Monday, May 23, 2022

Exclusive Interview: CEO Navkiran Singh talks about the National Poker Series, PokerBaazi, growth of Poker in India, and some upcoming events

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Baazi Games is one of the leading online gaming start-ups in the country consisting of four home-grown gaming brands (BalleBaazi.com, PokerBaazi.com, CardBaazi.com and Baazi Mobile Gaming) which is going to hold the second edition of India’s biggest online poker tournament – National Poker Series.

The tournament series offers both new and experienced poker players an equal chance to win gold, silver, and bronze medals, as well as the renowned title of national poker gold medalist and is scheduled to begin from March 6th, 2022 offering 252 medals across 84 tournaments and a total prize pool of 18.5 crores across 15 days. This one-of-a-kind digital gaming experience seeks to transform and uplift the poker ecosystem in terms of scale and talent in the online gaming sphere in India. The first edition of the tournament saw over 83,000 entries and aims to surpass the same this year.

PokerBaazi.com is India’s biggest online poker platform that provides players with an opportunity to play poker with fun engaging features on an award-winning app in a safe and secured manner. The 24/7 customer support, user-friendly interface as well as wide array of tournaments, makes PokerBaazi.com an engaging platform to get involved with. Spearheaded by Founder & CEO of Baazi Games – Mr Navkiran Singh, the platform currently has 2 million-plus registered users, which depicts a mushrooming growth of the platform’s reach since its inception in late 2014. The achievements of PokerBaazi.com are unprecedented, as it stands as a pioneer in the online poker landscape by bringing forth an award-winning poker app and unique tournaments and series such as National Poker Series and EndBoss, which is the biggest ever poker tournament in the country.

Mr.Navkiran Singh Founder and CEO Baazi Games
Mr.Navkiran Singh – Founder and CEO, Baazi Games
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Today we have got a chance to take an interview with Mr. Navkiran Singh, Founder & CEO of Baazi Games, who will be talking about some important points about the game and the company. Precisely he will be telling us about National Poker Series 2.0, PokerBaazi, growth of Poker in India, and some upcoming events.

1. What are your visions of the growth of the National Poker Series?

National Poker Series (NPS) is India’s most glorified poker tournament series and was launched in 2021 with the sole objective of promoting poker as a household sport, instilling a sense of glory amongst both amateurs and professionals indulging in the game. The same is justified by the format of the tournament series as well, where we strive to crown the National Poker Champion and the top three winners are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals.

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Just like the Olympics or a World Cup, we see NPS occupying the space of the epitome of glory for the poker players from across the country. Last year’s tournament saw an overwhelming response with over 83,000 entries across 64 tournaments and it has given us the confidence to further push the boundaries with 252 medals on the line to be awarded to podium finishers in all 84 tournaments in NPS 2022. 

Having said that, as we enter the golden age for poker in India, we want NPS to lead that revolution and enable the expansion of poker’s reach to every corner of the country. 

2. How NPS or National Poker Series will help the growth of poker players in India and across the globe as well?

We can gauge the grandiosity of the National Poker Series by the kind of representation the players get nationally. NPS is not just restricted to winning the championship but it’s also about the exposure that comes along. The winner of NPS gets a chance to participate in the world’s biggest Poker tournament in Las Vegas. Representing India isn’t only a matter of pride but also drives the belief in players that they can achieve international glory.  

While international representation stays as one of the key drivers, we have also kept the buy-ins to the tournaments at as low as INR 200. This enables maximum participation even in bigger tournaments of the series. Then there are satellite tournaments, having buy-ins as low as INR 1, which serve as qualifiers for bigger tournaments. This has helped us in reaching a wider userbase and has enabled new players get acquainted with the game of Poker across socio-economic backgrounds. 

NPS has already made a major mark with the success of the last edition and given testimony to the fact that it is indeed helping the game reach out to new players and give them an inroad into the world of poker. NPS 2021 saw participations from 20 states across 64 tournaments. 

3. Can you briefly explain what is NPS 2.0 and what can we expect from it? 

NPS 2022 is bigger and better as 252 medals will be awarded across 84 tournaments between March 6-20. In addition, we are also hosting the final tables (last stage) of three marquee tournaments in Goa between March 23 – 25. 

4. What are your thoughts on the growth of PokerBaazi.com over the last seven years?

When we started in 2014, the biggest challenge was educating the users about a game like poker. While poker was very famous in the west, the concept of the game has still not seen its full bloom in India. Growing from ground zero to now having 2 million+ users and becoming the leading poker gaming application in the country is what defines PokerBaazi’s resilience and persistence in a nascent market. To be honest, we have grown along with the poker ecosystem in India and intend to keep on playing an important part in poker’s journey in India as we truly enter its golden era. 

We have recently revamped our application and in line with our commitment of being customer first, we have introduced many customer centric innovations like portrait mode of gameplay, real-time data analytics to enable users to learn the game faster and device better strategies and extensive use of AI and ML to improve the user journey on the platform and security on the platform. From 2014 to now in 2022, we are the leaders in technology in the industry. 

Further, we have complemented our technology growth by creating unique IPS like the National Poker Series which has been a major hit since 2021. At the business level, PokerBaazi has grown at 70% CAGR which gives us high hopes for the years to come. 

5. What are your thoughts on the gradual growth of Poker as a professional game in India and the increase in the number of professional poker players?

We have been witnessing a gradual shift in people’s interest in poker, which is eventually reflected in the user base across online gaming platforms as well. Apart from furtherance in technology, which has made people switch to online formats, there also has been a change in the mindset with which they approach poker. Though the journey is still long, tournaments like National Poker Series have surely paved the way. 

As per the industry reports, the online poker industry is growing at a rate of 35-40%. The number of online poker players in India has also been on a rise, making it more than 3 million active players, at present. 

6. What can you tell about this year’s campaign – #IndiaKhelegaPoker and the company’s marketing strategy henceforth?

Through #IndiaKhelegapoker, we want to popularize the sport among the local people. Though India isn’t new to card games, poker’s rise has only been seen in the last few years. We are using a diversified marketing mix to reach out to the Indian audience. The campaign is truly aligned with PokerBaazi’s overarching vision of creating a unique category for Poker in the country. 

7. What are your plans with Baazi Games?

Since our inception, we have believed in revolutionizing the gaming space. In 2014, Baazi Games started by launching PokerBaazi, one of India’s earliest online poker platforms. We later expanded to fantasy sports with BalleBaazi in 2018 and have recently revamped RummyBaazi to CardBaazi, which is India’s first online card gaming application, and in late 2021 we launched Baazi Mobile Gaming, a social interactive casual and hyper-casual gaming platform, a diverse gaming segment.

Being a tech-first brand, 2021 for us, can be termed as a year of innovation, where we brought in new elements of technology to help our business grow and at the same time bolstered our in-house technology team which now consists of 60% of our workforce. For us, 2022 will be a year of expansion. We are strongly concentrating on reaching out to the tier-2 and 3 markets through our IPS like NPS in PokerBaazi and National Fantasy Cricket Championship in BalleBaazi. We have already seen a shift from the metros to the other tiers in terms of increasing userbase, we now want to capitalize on the trend and drive towards building a comprehensive ecosystem for our properties as well as the online gaming industry at large. 

8. Can we expect any upcoming event from the brand?  

Yes, apart from the National Poker series, which is going to commence on the 6th of march, we are extremely excited about our physical tournament series, Baazi Poker Tour (BPT). The tour will be held in Goa from 23rd to 28th March and is going to be the first edition since the first lockdown in March 2020. 

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astroani
astroani
You can find Arnab mostly editing about smartphone launches and other smartphone-related news. Searching for the latest and the best news regarding smartphones and presenting it in an article is his sole intention. He also covers press releases, has also given many gadget reviews. If you have any leads and tips regarding any topics feel free to drop a mail: [email protected]

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