The Indian Poker Circuit involves a few well-established names in this small but exponentially growing poker community. And one of the premium brands amongst these has to be FTR Poker. FTR’s journey so far has been a great one. Let’s find out more about them from Vatsal Thirani, the Founder himself.
To start with, how were your young days spent (background, education etc.)
My family was based in Gwalior and my early school days were spent at Scindia School. Later, I joined DPS RK Puram, Delhi. Eventually, I decided to join the ‘Mecca of Poker’ in India that is the Manipal University– where I opted for computer science engineering and this was the point where my love for poker increased. This phase ended with me joining my family in Nepal for setting up a business dealing Daimler (Bharat Benz). On another vertical, I was preparing for CFA (a US-based program which is one of the best and toughest programs for finance and money management in the world) and cleared it around this time.
Towards the end of 2015, my love for poker had increased in leaps and bounds and I decided to move to Gurgaon which was the inception point of FTR. My friend from Manipal, Kanishk Bansal and I set out to realize this dream.
How is Manipal significant in shaping the poker industry in India?
In my view, Manipal has proven to be one of the important shapers of the poker industry in India. At every hour, there used to be a game in the process and we all literally bounced from one game to another.
India’s poker industry has been shaped by entrepreneurs created by Manipal such as Navkiran Singh, Shashank Siddharth, Sahaj Bali, Abhinav Aditya, KanishkUpreti, Avilash Chatterjee, Awnish Singh, Rohit Madhur and many more. Around the same time, Casino Royale announced of setting up a poker table at the “pearl of the Orient”, Goa. This news interested many Manipal boys and it was just a 3-4 hour ride to be a part of it. Initially, we went more frequently, many a time coming back empty-handed, like a pauper, having no money for the commute. Keeping all downs apart, I am hopeful that Manipal will continue to bring out many more poker enthusiasts and players who will take this flourishing industry ahead.
How was it when Spartan Poker acquired FTR Poker?
At this point, the industry is working with around 20-25 poker sites with the top three having a market share of 80-90% and others share the balance of 10-20%. The lessons we learned at FTR is that the players always choose sites which have better player liquidity and better promotions. We did all we can to sustain as an independent poker room, but the things didn’t go well and we decided on a sell to The Spartan Poker. These issues were eventually resolved after the acquisition and the players can now play the best of tournaments and cash games.
‘Poker Network’ will surely be fruitful in the future and prove to be a really good platform for new/smaller websites to grow profitably.
Which tournament is a delight for you on your portal and why?
I am really excited for Daily Double (300K GTD, Buy-in: 1,650 at 0230PM and 1130PM).
The other one on my radar because of its payout structure is 5 for 5 (5 Lakhs GTD to Top 5 Places, Buy-in: 5,500).
Which other brands do you look at as your role models?
This list would, of course, consist of the top 3 brands in the industry that is, Adda52, Spartan and Baazi. These companies have taken the onus of taking the poker industry forward and I draw inspiration from their founders for doing so.
Do you have any secrets to share with your players?
FTR has always been out there and I don’t think there are any secrets.
Lastly, what would you like to say to the readers?
Poker is an easy way to make a hard living. It has nothing to be taken for granted. One should keep working on their skills and play only if one can afford. Never make money the focal point of this process, it is rather a by-product of one’s efforts.
I wish you all a very happy Diwali and a prosperous year ahead!