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Private Tables To Big Prizes: Here's How Online Card Game Platforms Have Played Their Diwali Cards Almost every online card game platform is expecting a surge in user base given limited house parties amid the pandemic

By Debarghya Sil

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Arguably India's most celebrated festival Diwali is around the corner, but celebrations will be a bit different this year. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has spoiled the mood of the country. However, as people learn and adjust with the "new normal', India is geared up to celebrate Diwali like never before with social distancing norms in place.

This year, year-old customs are getting replaced, thanks to modern-day technologies. For instance, mall hopping for Diwali has been replaced by online shopping, burning crackers are replaced by lighting diyas, Diwali gifts are being couriered. Of these, the most important change would be card games on Diwali nights. Most people, especially Millennials, wait for Diwali night to boast their card skills during house parties. However, with social distancing, card games will be virtual this year.

To get a glimpse of game nights on this Diwali, Entrepreneur India interacted with the founders of online card game platforms to understand what innovations they have brought to tune with the trends they are witnessing.

Private Tables Are "New Baithak'

Everybody loves to have a gathering of closed ones and have a heartful laugh while playing their favourite card games, after all this is the true essence of festivals. However, this year due to the ongoing pandemic, people are advised to stay indoors. To lift up the mood and invoke the sense of togetherness, online card gaming platforms are introducing private tables, wherein friends and family can play together.

Baazi Games—which consist of PokerBaazi.com and RummyBaazi.com—ahead of Diwali has introduced Private Cash Tables for PokerBaazi. Reasoning the launch, Navkiran Singh, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Baazi Games, said, "In a country like ours, where card parties are an integral part of the way we socialize during the festive period, we wanted to uphold our responsibilities and encourage people to play in a safe and secure environment during the pandemic."

There is no fun, if users cannot communicate with each other. PokerDangal, a 2017-founded online poker gaming startup, has introduced private tables wherein players can chat with each other without being intruded by outsiders.

To take it a notch higher, 9stacks, another online poker platform, has introduced a voice-enabled private table wherein one can talk to friends during the game.

Commenting on their latest upgrade, Sudhir Kamath, CEO and co-founder of 9stacks, said, "Basically, it is like hosting a Diwali poker party while sitting at home, with complete authority to choose who can be a part of it."

Understanding the growing inclination towards private tables, Pocket52, a 2018 online poker platform is planning to add a private table option under 'Bluffwalidiwali campaign' soon on its platform.

Diwali 'Dhamaka' Offers

The online card platforms which have witnessed an incremental rise in user base over the years wait for festivals like Diwali to acquire more market share. With jaw-dropping offers and handsome prize amounts, these platforms aim to see their user base grow.

Singh's Baazi Games which caters to over 5.5 million users across the country said for Diwali the startup has increased the frequency of free entry tournaments which are now running at an interval of 30 minutes. Relying on their skills and prompt decision making ability, a user can enter these free entry tournaments and end up winning from a cash pool worth INR 27 lakh.

In the coming months, Baazi Games will be increasing the cash prize.

PokerDangal which entered the market in 2017 and currently boasts of over 300,000 users is organizing more tournaments and have increased its giveaways by 30-50 per cent, thus drawing more players to get better return on investment.

Nitesh Salvi-led Pocket52 has introduced "Big Bluffing Hours'. Apart from this, the startup is celebrating Diwali for five-days with freerolls, where a player can win prize from a pool prize of INR 3 lakh, without spending any money. For new users, the startup also has different freerolls, where a player can win up to INR 7 lakh without any investment.

Rocketing Users Base

The online gaming industry in India has exhibited no sign of slowing since the past 5-6 years. The primary reason behind this growth must be contributed to the deep Internet penetration, thanks to Reliance Jio along with cheaper Internet tariff rate. Apart from that, entry of cheap and affordable Chinese mobile manufacturers in the country with low disposable income has further added tailwind to the online gaming industry.

According to a KPMG report, the online gaming industry in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.1 per cent and touch INR 11,880 crore by FY2023. Within this, the online card game is growing at 50-100 year-on-year. One can only say the lockdowns and need to remain home, has further tossed the figures higher in the air.

With Diwali ahead, these online card games platforms are expecting to see significant traction on their respective platforms.

Singh of Baazi Games claimed that popularity of card games in India increases during the Diwali season and that they are witnessing a 15 per cent rise in the daily active users and are expecting to grow further.

For PokerDangal, Mahna is expecting a 30-40 per cent increase in traffic, which is similar to last year's number during Diwali.

Pocket52, which has already witnessed a surge of 20 per cent in terms of users per month, is expecting a 40-45 per cent this Diwali, an additional surge of 20 percentage points compared with rest of the months.

9stacks, which has recently roped in Suresh Raina as its brand ambassador, has registered a 38 per cent increase in the number of games played and a 20 per cent increase in number of paying customers compared with last year. The startup is upbeat about this festival of lights.

"We will definitely be seeing new sign ups as we move closer to Diwali since people will prefer playing online," Kamath concluded.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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