Meet Nikita Luther-The girl changing perception of Indian masses about POKER

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

By Nomita Kapoor New Delhi [India], Apr. 10(ANI): In a country like India where Poker is still in its infancy, 26-year-old Nikita Luther from New Delhi has been breaking all odds and stereotypes by not only playing the sport from last six years, but also participating and winning in various Poker tournaments across the world. Having a stellar talent for the mind game, Nikita has achieved great laurels for her game. She recently created history by becoming the first Indian female to win an International Poker Title. She has also won the coveted PokerStars Trophy in one of the largest, most prestigious tournaments of Asia - Macau Poker Cup. Besides this, Nikita also claimed a trophy in the Ladies Event at the India Poker Championship 2015 in Goa and has final tabled three other major tournaments with a second, fourth and an eighth place finish. An avid Poker Player, Nikita discovered her love for Poker during her college days and has been playing poker professionally from last one and a half year. When quizzed as to how she got started with the sport, Nikita, in a telephonic conversation with ANI, said "I have been playing poker recreationally for six years, but professionally for one and a half years. I got started with it very casually with some friends, but slowly over the course of the time, I realized there is a pattern to it." "There is a way of beating in the game. There is mathematics behind it. I got deeper in it. I researched then studied and eventually took on the sport way more seriously. And then took it as a profession almost 18 months ago." Nikita revealed that she had an aptitude for numbers since childhood and was always at the top in academics---mostly in Math. The 26-year-old admitted that the most intriguing thing about poker is the presence of innumerable variables, which makes it very exciting for someone like her who is fond of mathematics. "There are so many variables in poker. There is a mathematical angle to it -permutation, combination, probability and game theory. Then there is a psychological aspect of it like reading people, reading behaviour, perceiving a person, predicting other person's behaviour and understanding game momentum," she said. "The third thing is decision making strategy like under high pressure situation, how do you optimize your decision based on table dynamics and based on everything that you have picked up during the course of the game," she added. Nikita, however, believes that poker, which is still in its infancy in India, is fast catching nerves of the masses across the country and is gaining popularity. "People are getting more educated about the sport. People are now getting forward as India is now putting itself on the global map. The same way, poker is also getting integrated in the sense that people are getting more educated about it. They are now more forward in their thinking or mindset," she said. "There is a stigma attached to poker. Just because it is a game of cards, people think it is related to gambling. Because of the perception change, now the poker industry is literally burgeoning. In fact, the global poker industry has now started eyeing the Indian market. The potential of poker is growing in India," the Indian poker professional insisted. Nikita also revealed that although her family was skeptical initially with her being involved with poker, they started supporting her with the passage of time as they got to know more about the sport. "As far as family is concerned, they were initially very skeptical about it. It took me a while to educate them about poker and make them realize that it is not the gambling. Once they realized that, they just wanted me to do well. They have been very supportive and encouraging. And when they saw me that I am doing well in my game, they have been very supportive," she said. Nikita is a professional poker player for India's largest poker site, However, she is now ready to play in the Poker Super League (PSL), which is often quoted to be the most revolutionary development for the sport in India. In its inaugural season this year, the PSL is launching with 12 franchises, owned by top industrialists and accomplished start-up founders. Talking about the upcoming tournament, Nikita, who is also the Chief Operating Officer for the PSL, said, "PSL is a very exciting concept. It is the most revolutionary development of poker in India. In fact, nothing like this in the world exists. So we have literally introduced the league format in poker. We have 12 teams like in IPL, ISL or in Kabaddi League." The 12 teams will consist of a total of 108 players who will play for the prize money of Rs. 3.36 crores. These teams will be selected through 70+ qualifying rounds held across various cities for a period of nearly three months, as well as through online tournaments that will begin very soon. The players, who qualify to the 12 teams, will then compete to play at the Mega Finals, slated to be held from 24th to 28th May in Goa. (ANI)