India’s Poker Consultant and Managing Director of The Spartan Poker – Amin Rozani, had a wonderful 2016. The Spartan Poker consistently saw good numbers and the website got ample public adulation for their promotions and software. New initiatives like “The Millionaire” and the “Spartan Super Series” saw massive numbers and they gave the Indian public a new rhyme to sing to. With multiple college events, contributions to various NGOs and celebrity endorsements, 2016 was a blockbuster of a year for Amin and Co.
Speaking exclusively with PokerShots, Amin discusses the past 12 months and what they meant to their long term plan.
How was 2016 for you and The Spartan Poker team?
It’s been a fulfilling year for us given that we launched a number of well received online initiatives like the Millionaire, IOPC and the Spartan Super Series among other promotions. Aside from this, we sponsored big college festivals like Umang which gave us a lot of mileage so the overall response to our marketing has been extremely positive. We are on the right track and hope to continue to better our offerings and services in 2017.
The previous year capped a great 12 months for you with the success of The Millionaire tournament series the crowning moment. How did the plans for the tournament come about?
Our core philosophy has always been to offer great value for lower and intermediate level buy-ins. Taking a leaf out of global leader PokerStars’ book, we want to offer so much value so as to be the preferred destination of not just leisure players but also those who are contemplating turning pro. Besides terrific guaranteed prizepools, we have given away high-end mobile phones and devices, foreign trips and even luxury cars in the past year.
The Millionaire has been a game changer not just for The Spartan Poker but we would like to think for the overall development of the game in this country. We have moved past the nascent stage of growth of this sport in the last 24 months. As with more developed markets, we felt there was a need for an intermediate buy-in, yet high-value prizepool tournament which can happen on a regular basis and that is the genesis of the Millionaire which we launched in September last year. It has proved to be a stunning success going well beyond our expectations. While it is a monthly event now, our efforts are to build this particular tournament’s brand to a level where we can perhaps think about doing it on a weekly basis sometime in the near future.
With endorsements from various TV and film stars like Kunal Kapoor, Dia Mirza, and Ujjwal Rana, are you hoping to leverage the entertainment industry in promoting poker to the masses?
Cricket and Bollywood are the most mainstream industries in our country, it makes sense to try and associate ourselves with them. What our sport needs is mainstream coverage and if we are able to do this by leveraging the presence of known faces, that will provide much higher levels of exposure for the game and of course our brand.
2015 saw a good number of poker start-ups; a trend which continued in 2016. Do you see something similar for 2017?
Many people see tremendous potential in our industry and therefore are looking to get into it. The growth of the sport has led to more platforms and therefore better services all of which lead to an enhanced player experience. From poker sites to poker-related businesses, it is an attractive space to be in right now so yes, we do expect the trend will continue. No matter which part of the industry they are involved in, there is plenty of hard work for any new brand to do and it will not be an easy path considering existing competition and new entrants doing the best they can to solidify their position.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs in the sport?
Too often people get into this business seeing only the lucre associated with it. But having a short term vision can prove to be detrimental to the brand and the industry overall. Poker is like a delicate plant which needs to be nurtured so the advice would be about thinking for the long term and providing good customer support.
In spite of the highs, there were some turbulent moments last year. There was an apparent fallout in the team which had everyone surprised. Can you elaborate on what happened?
This is an internal matter and all that can be said is people will come and go but the core team and its ideology remain the same. Our reputation and experience speak for itself which is why players love and support the brand. We have been in this industry right from the start and are not going anywhere. Business continues as usual and players can keep enjoying their time at TheSpartanPoker.com without any hassles.
Please give us an insight into what players can expect from The Spartan Poker in 2017.
We will keep doing the good things we have done this year in a bigger and better manner. The ongoing idea is to keep providing better value, better tournaments and cash game promos. The SSS, for instance, was a big success for us and we will look at building such value-offering properties going ahead. We are working on a few new offerings for players in the coming months so that is something which has us excited. Would not like to get into the specifics but we always believe in under-promising and over-delivering so players can look forward to some great value offerings soon.