4 Minutes Read
Now that 2018 is in the books, it is time to take a retrospective look at the year that just passed us by. The domestic poker industry made steady progress throughout the year and while live poker was invigorated with the presence of international brands like World Poker Tour (WPT) and Global Poker League (GPL), online poker companies largely stole the show.
The premier poker site that not only offered lucrative promotions and high-value online tournaments to its player base but also made major enhancement in the overall playing experience for its users was none other than India’s most trusted poker site – PokerBaazi. Brainchild of Navkiran Singh (cover image), PokerBaazi was launched in 2014 with the support of his trusted team that embarked on a journey and created the trend-setting online venture PokerBaazi. With the hope to provide an exceptional online gaming experience to the country, the online poker site slowly cemented its position as one of the top poker brands in the domestic poker market gaining the trust of the community with their high-value promotions and superior customer support.
Starting from high-value events, cash game promotions and exciting rewards for the loyal Baazigars, the team behind The MoneyMaker has now upped the ante once again and announced an all-new multi-day online tournament– “The Game Changer” that is all set to make it`s inaugural run next month i.e. February 20-24. The Game Changer is an ambitious undertaking, which aims to be the biggest online event in the country’s poker history guaranteeing a staggering ₹2 Crores in prize pool with the eventual winner assured to take home a life-changing ₹50 Lakhs!
In a candid conversation with PokerGuru, Singh shares with us the idea behind launching The Game Changer, some of the major contributing factors which positioned PokerBaazi as one of the leading online sites in the country, the revamped site, challenges with the in-house client, Baazi Rewards and their motto #NeverStopImproving along with future plans. Here are the excerpts.
Hello Navkiran, and thank you for speaking with PokerGuru. Since its launch back in 2014, PokerBaazi has come a long way. What do you think are some of the major contributing factors for the site’s success?
Right from Day 1 we have always believed in strong team bonding. This allows for a more comfortable and thus productive work environment. Everyone works hard, so trying to maintain a slightly more “chilled out” work atmosphere really helps. Some of our best ideas have actually come out of casual late-night conversations.
Indigenous software – It’s the toughest route for sure but equally fruitful as we were able to evolve with the Indian poker community. There’s a sense of belonging when it comes to something that is home-grown, and we have received incredible support from the community all throughout this journey of trying to create a world-class platform for our players to learn and enjoy the game. That’s what keeps us going!
Another factor would be our peculiar tendency to always be innovative. From creating biggest tournament brands to exciting cash game promotions to the most beneficial Rewards Program, we’re at it round the clock 365 days a year. It’s both fun and challenging to do things differently and to be able to continuously provide something new to our players.
The love and support that we have received from the community every step of the way are one of our greatest sources of motivation to keep working towards bigger and better things for online poker in India. We have always tried to maintain good service quality and standards, and this has become a trendsetter in the community today.
2018 has been a year of revamp at PokerBaazi, with its new client software that has ushered in many changes in the way the site functions and looks. Are you happy with the results? What are your current priorities in delivering an improved experience to users?
This year’s software revamp was a major upgrade from the previous one. The Highlight was being one of the first of its kind portrait mode gameplay platforms. There was a lot of feedback and suggestions from all our Baazigars and efforts from the whole team including myself went into it.
With this revamp, we gave name to our core value of #NeverStopImproving. Now, our immediate focus is on polishing the beta version and getting out the complete version out asap.
Another major landmark was our trend-setting player rewards system – Baazi Rewards. Our goal while designing the rewards program was to try and cater to every single player by providing them with benefits based on games, stakes and hours that he/she plays. Along with rewards and other bonuses like TDS refunds and deposit offers, even the lowest stakes players are getting back around 60-70%. We wanted to give them all options, the best possible prizes, and the best rake-back model. It’s the most comforting feeling to see players’ overwhelming responses. Recently I got some messages that other operators have copied this model. Well, that just makes me proud!
This past year PokerBaazi has been in the thick of things with regards to dishing out the high-value tournaments. From The MoneyMaker to the numerous PokerBaazi Premier League editions and your most recent offering ‘The Game Changer’, what was the idea behind launching these events?
The idea behind all this innovation is to offer no less than any international tournament series. The Game Changer is another (big) step in that direction. A ₹2 Crore guaranteed online event in India is going to be huge and in addition a ₹50 Lakhs GTD payday for the winner is nothing else but a game changer. We have always tried to deliver what we think the Indian fraternity is ready for, and we think they are ready for The Game Changer! It’s going to be in a very exciting multiday format with three first flights from 20-22 Feb and final day on 24 Feb. The details are already out on the PokerBaazi website. I am sure everyone is as excited for this as our whole team is.
You were part of the Indian team at the 2018 WSOP and returned with three scores. Are you working to better your poker game as well?
I played three PLO events in Vegas this year and scored in all three. So yes, it was definitely a great feeling. Playing the game more and more does make you better at it. For me, it’s more about getting to know where the world is moving in terms of the game.
You finished runner-up in the ₹20K Shootout at the second edition of WPT India. What was the experience like?
I share a very special bond with lots of players in our poker community. It’s always good to meet them. I have definitely started to enjoy tournament poker more that I used to.
Can you share some details like the growth rate, revenues, and number of users etc. of PokerBaazi?
The growth has been great in these last 4 years. PokerBaazi now has a registered user base of over 5 Lac. The numbers have also grown 60-70% yearly.
In the past year, the online poker industry has witnessed unprecedented growth with several new poker sites popping up on the domestic gaming map. How does this impact PokerBaazi? What will be the company`s counter to such competition?
Competition is inevitable and healthy! As for the plan, we are well focused on our goal and will keep moving forward.
Since poker is your passion and profession what do you do to unwind?
To be honest many people ask me this question. It’s different when your passion and profession are the same. I do a lot of traveling, and although that doesn’t keep me away from poker completely, it still gives me plenty of time to think about ideas for good and sustainable business as well as social growth.
After a successful year, tell us what can be expected from PokerBaazi in the coming year?
The road ahead looks very exciting not just for PokerBaazi but our Baazi Games group as a whole. You already know about The Game Changer now. We will keep throwing in surprises like we always do! We have just launched NitroJan which has boosted tournament guarantees and plenty of freerolls starting every 10 minutes. This will allow more people to brush their skills as well as get that kick starter bankroll. As a new year gift, we are offering 5 exciting deposit codes on the first 5 days of the year. You will have to visit PokerBaazi mobile app to get the codes.
No doubt there will be more features coming out in 2019. It also makes me proud to announce that after a good first year with our fantasy portal BalleBaazi, we are about to launch RummyBaazi very soon. I wish all the Baazigars and readers of PokerGuru a very prosperous and Happy New Year!