International Federation of Poker (IFP) President Patrick Nally revealed the governing body sees the launch of the Match Indian Poker League (MIPL) as a breakthrough moment for the sport and expects similar leagues to be formed in other countries worldwide in the months ahead.
Nally was speaking in Mumbai where the MIPL, the world’s first professional match poker league, announced its full line-up of teams and owners for the first competition on October 14 and 15.
Owned by Raj Kundra’s Viaan Industries in partnership with the IFP, the MIPL features teams from eight cities, each owned by leading figures in Indian industry, commerce and entertainment.
With the sale of franchises completed, the teams are Ahmedabad Hearts, Bangalore Royals, Delhi Aces, Goa Kings, Jaipur Jewels, Kolkata Diamonds, Mumbai All Stars and Pune Nights.
Each team will have eight players and the league will be contested over two days with 75 hands dealt digitally each day.
The winners will earn INR₹150 million (£181,000/$235,000/€200,000) in prize money and represent India at the upcoming IFP World Cup.
"The launch of the Match Indian Poker League represents a massive step for our sport which has grown rapidly around the world since its launch in 2009," Nally said.
"As its global governing body, the International Federation of Poker has developed match poker as a mind sport for the 21st century and we are delighted that India - a country which represents the future - is to host the first national professional league and introduce the game to millions of new players throughout the country and beyond.
"We are proud to support Viaan Industries Ltd in making a success of the Match Indian Poker League which will see eight teams from cities across the country compete for the title and the opportunity to represent India at the Match Poker World Cup - later this year.
"Over the years India has led the way in the development of exciting sports league concepts and we are excited that the expertise built-up in other sports has helped shape the Match Indian Poker League which is based on a proven self-sustaining model.
"We see the launch of the Match India Poker League as a breakthrough moment for the sport and expect similar leagues to be formed in other countries worldwide in the months ahead."
Nally was re-elected as President of the IFP in March as the organisation became an official signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code in London.
Representatives of the IFP's Member Federations agreed the statute changes during their Congress.
Becoming a signatory of the WADA Code moves the IFP in line with requirements for recognition by the global sports community through membership of the Global Association of International Sport Federations (GAISF).
IFP President and sports marketing guru Nally, who was elected for a further four-year term, maintained that becoming a member of the GAISF remained a key goal for the body, which governs and promotes match poker.
Poker, arm wrestling and rugby league are considered the front-runners for GAISF membership after first applying in 2016.
Match poker is the digital, team-based variant of the world’s most popular card game which has been developed to optimise skillful play and minimise the role of luck.
There is no gambling and players compete for points.
It combines the skills of an ultra-mind sport with current digital technology.
Cards are dealt digitally and the game is played on smartphones and tablets.
It is designed to be accessible to anybody with a mobile device and internet access.
Players win points for their team depending on the number of chips they win as they compete against opponents at their table and against their opposite numbers on other teams who have been dealt identical cards.
The IFP was formed in 2009 and has gone from seven national members to 60.