Viaan Industries telecasts Match IPL Season 3 on MTV

Viaan Industries Ltd. promoted by entrepreneur Raj Kundra and actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra telecasted India’s first ever match poker league, Match IPL, on MTV. The season telecast on the popular youth channel MTV, is the third season of Match IPL.

The league’s Season 3 was conducted at a studio in Mumbai on 23rd and 24th October, 2018 and it was aired on MTV on 19th and 20th December at 9 pm. The total prize pool to be won at the 2-day event was Rs. 3.40 crores.

Earlier this year, Viaan Industries had also launched their real money poker site PokerRaj to widen their presence in the Indian gaming industry.

Season 3 of Match IPL held in October 2018 had nine participating teams—Ahmedabad Hearts, Bangalore Royals, Delhi Aces, Haryana Hawks, Jaipur Jewels, Kolkata Diamonds, Mumbai All Stars, Pune Kings and UP Indians, with a total of about 100 players.

Goa Lions was also set to participate in the 2-day event, but withdrew its participation upon getting into a legal tangle with the league.

Before the live Season 3 of the event, Poker Raj, in collaboration with MTV, hosted MTV Pro Hunt, where players from all over India participated in online poker tournaments to win to represent one of the eight teams that participated in Match IPL Season 3.

As per company’s press release, Day 1 of Match IPL telecast on 19th December received a positive response from viewers. On Day 2 of telecast on 20th December, the winner of Match IPL Season 3 was revealed.

Glamour was added to Match IPL with the recently introduced celebrity performances and presence at the event. Artists like Karishma Tanna, Shilpa Shetty and Sanjeeda Sheikh performed at MIPL this season.

The winning team at Match IPL Season 3 received a cheque of Rs. 1.35 crores, while the team that finished at the second place won Rs. 90 lakhs.

The winning team of MatchIPL Season 3 will play for Team India at the Nations Cup to be held at Dublin, Ireland in February 2019, organised by the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP).


Match IPL concludes Season 3; Pune Kings emerge victorious

Raj Kundra-promoted Viaan Industries Limited and Switzerland-based International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) hosted the third edition of the Match Indian Poker League (Match IPL) tournament at a Mumbai studio on 23rd and 24th October.

The two-day event started with a glitzy Bollywood-style opening ceremony that saw performances by Sanjeeda Sheikh, Karishma Tanna and Shamita Shetty as well as guest appearance by actor R. Madhavan.

Nine city-based teams competed against one another in the Match Poker format of the two-day event for a total prize pool of Rs. 3.40 crores. At the end of the nine sessions, Pune Kings teams dislodged the first-day favourites Haryana Hawks to emerge at the top of the table.

The winning team Pune Kings, which was led by poker pro Gaurav Gala and featured players like Tanmay Bagga, Suchi Chamaria, Rubin Labroo, Akash Shekhar, Tanay Hargunaney and Akshay Nasa, received a cheque of Rs. 1.35 crores, while the Mumbai All Stars team finished at second place and received prize money of Rs. 90 lakhs.

The Bangalore Royals team finished at the third place taking home a prize of Rs. 65 lakhs while fourth-placed Delhi Aces received a prize cheque of Rs. 50 lakhs. Poker pro Eka Vedantham of the Jaipur Royals team received the ‘Player of the League Award’ for his exemplary performance.

The Pune Kings team which emerged victorious at Match IPL will now represent India at the Nation Cups that will be organised by the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) in February 2019 in Ireland.

The first edition of Match IPL last year was won by the Harman Baweja-led Mumbai All Stars team, while PokerBaazi sponsored Haryana Hawks team won the second edition that was held earlier this year.

Read about offline and online poker in India.

Legal & Regulatory Poker

Goa Lions in legal tangle with Raj Kundra’s Match IPL; will not participate in Season 3

Exclusive Goa Lions, one of the teams participating in Viaan Industries promoted Match Indian Poker League (Match IPL), has alleged that the league is not fulfilling its contractual obligations and has consequently refused to participate in the forthcoming Season 3 of the league to be held on 23rd and 24th October in Mumbai.

Ability Games Pvt. Ltd., the company which owns the Goa Lions team has alleged that Match IPL is not honouring it commitment of holding an auction for poker players as well as conducting the event in the ‘match poker’ format using electronic devices.

Ability Games has stated that Viaan Industries does not have any ready software for conducting the match poker tournament and is instead conducting the event through physical cards, which makes the tournament format prone to irregularities and inaccuracies.

The company therefore refused to pay the fee of Rs. 50 lakhs for participating in the forthcoming edition of the tournament due to which Viaan Industries sent them a termination notice.

Ability Games thereafter approached the Bombay High Court against the termination of its contract. A single judge bench of Justice SJ Kathawala while hearing the arbitration petition filed by Ability Games yesterday, appointed Advocate Ranjeev Carvalho as the sole arbitrator to adjudicate the dispute.

The court vide its order on 15th October, 2018, also directed Ability Games to deposit the fee of Rs. 50 lakhs fee due to Match IPL with the Prothonotary and Senior Master of the Bombay High Court within two weeks, which shall be disbursed according to the adjudication made by the arbitrator or court.

The court further stayed the termination notice given by Viaan Industries to Ability Games and allowed the Goa Lions team to not participate in Season 3 of Match IPL.

Reacting to the allegations made by Goa Lions, Raj Kundra, Chairman and Managing Director of Viaan Industries said, “We are happy that the court has made Goa Lions submit the pending license fee of Rs. 50 lakhs and moved the case to arbitration. The (next season of the) league will go on with the remaining 9 teams.”

Kundra also rubbished the allegations leveled by Goa Lions and said the previous season of Match IPL was conducted by physical cards due to a technical glitch in the software and the same was agreed by majority of the team owners. He said it was a one off incident and that the forthcoming season would be held on the software prepared by the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP).

In January this year, actor Sachiin Joshi had alleged that Kundra’s Match IPL was rigged and that he had not honoured his contractual commitments.

Kundra on the other hand had claimed that Joshi did not pay his franchisee fee and that the cheque he had paid got dishonoured. Kundra also filed a criminal defamation case against Joshi for making various allegations against him and his poker league.

Read more about offline and online poker in India.


Raj Kundra’s Viaan Industries to launch new poker website ‘Poker Raj’ on Sunday

Exclusive Viaan Industries Limited, the listed company promoted by businessman Raj Kundra and his wife Shilpa Shetty is set to launch a new poker website and mobile app called ‘Poker Raj’ on Sunday. As part of the launch, the website will host  multiple freeroll tournaments from 16th-30th September, which will have a total prize pool of Rs. 10 lakhs.

The website will cater to millions of poker players in India and complement the company’s Match Indian Poker League (Match IPL), a team-based franchise poker event that it hosts along with the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP).

The platform’s technology and software is provided by Pune-based Salus Technologies. Viaan Industries hopes to distinguish its brand from other competitors in the market through superior customer service and customised features.

Commenting on the launch,  Kundra said, “We have been focusing on all variants of real money gaming in India that fall under the game of skill. We launched India’s first official poker league. We’ve also curated a new team of passionate poker lovers and Poker Raj is something we’ve been developing over the years and are now finally ready to launch one of the best poker experiences India has ever seen. We have completed the loop of poker offerings and will now focus on taking a sizeable market share of this booming industry with one focus in mind – the player!”

He further stated that the poker website will be a natural extension to the Match Indian Poker League and added that his company is very bullish on the real money gaming space in India and sees it to be a growing industry.

Interestingly, Kundra had attempted to start a similar online poker venture, Celebrity Games in 2016. However, that project could not take off and had to be wound up.

Kundra however noted that this venture would be different. “That (Celebrity Games) was in partnership and fortunately or unfortunately it did not work out as partners had mixed views on how it should be run. Guess there is always the right time for the right project”, he adds.

He also adds that Poker Raj is a brand 100% owned by Viaan Industries and will in future, become one of the top gaming revenue streams for his company. He also noted that the company’s other real money gaming brands such as bidding game ‘Chase Bid’ and spot the ball contest ‘Game of Dot’ have also been growing at a fast pace.

Read more about online poker India.


Viaan Industries launches new Online Team Poker League with Rs. 13 crore prize money

Raj Kundra promoted Viaan Industries has announced the launch of a new Online Team Poker League (OTPL) in a bid to promote e-sports and online poker in the country.

OTPL India, which will feature 30 city-based teams that will be given out to franchisees, will be played in the No Limit Texas Hold ’em format of poker on a special app designed by Viaan Industries.

Viaan Industries is selling franchisee rights for each team by charging an annual license fee of Rs. 55 lakhs, of which Rs. 10 lakhs is payable upfront and the balance payable quarterly. As per news reports,  15 teams have been sold by Viaan Industries till date and the company claims that the remaining 15 teams will be sold soon.

As per the format of the game announced by the company in a press release, every team will have eight players who will play Sit-N-Go tournaments online, twice a month, to top the leader board. The collective chip count of all team players will be added up, giving the monthly rankings of teams and monthly prizes. The team with the most chip count at the end of the season in November will win the cup and a prize money of Rs. 6.6 crores will be shared among the top eight teams.

Besides the annual prize money, there would be a monthly prize money of Rs. 60 lakhs each for all 11 months (totaling to Rs. 6.6 crores) of the tournament, which will be shared by the top six teams of the month.

While the first season will start in July and end in November, from the next year, it will be spread over January to November. The winning team will represent the country in the World Online Team Poker League to be held in December every year.

The company has claimed that besides India, it will be launching similar city-based OTPL events in other countries like USA, UK, Israel etc.

Besides OTPL, Viaan Industies already operates Match Indian Poker League (Match IPL) in collaboration with the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP), where 10 city based teams compete against one another in the ‘match poker’ format for prize money and to win a spot to play in IFMP’s International leagues.  The second season of the league was recently held in Kolkata.

Commenting on the launch of OTPL, Raj Kundra, the Chairman and Managing Director of Viaan Industries said in a statement,  “After seeing the success of Match Indian Poker League we at Viaan Industries Ltd, created this IP to have a year long poker event to give the opportunity to more poker players to come forward and use this platform to showcase their skills. We have designed the app to support and promote OTPL worldwide. It will create an exciting Poker in a team format that’s never been seen or done before. In December we will have the World Online Team Poker League (WOTPL) where the league winners of every country will play against each other in a one-day online world cup event.”


Sachiin Joshi and Raj Kundra spar over Match IPL dues

Former promoter of Match Indian Poker League’s Goa Kings team, Sachiin Joshi and the league’s founder Raj Kundra exchanged harsh words against one another over alleged non-payment of dues and allegations of rigging of the Match IPL team, as per a report in the Mumbai Mirror.

Kundra alleged that Joshi had defaulted on the payment of a forty lakh rupee franchisee fee for his ‘Goa Kings’ Match IPL team and the cheque issued by him had been dishonoured.

Kundra further alleged that Joshi, after taking advantage of the publicity and mileage offered by his league, refused to make the payment of the franchisee fee and did not answer his repeated calls and messages. He added that Match IPL will be taking appropriate legal action against Joshi for defaulting on the payment.

Joshi’s representatives, on the other hand, stated that there was no contract with Match IPL and hence no payment has to be made by them. Joshi also made a startling allegation that the entire Match IPL tournament held on 17th and 18th November, 2017 was ‘rigged’ to ensure that one particular team won the contest and prize money associated with it.

Manoj Asrani, a representative  of Sachiin Joshi while making the allegation of rigging in the Match IPL event said, “Raj Kundra initiated a poker tournament by the name of Match IPL and around 10 teams were formed. There were commitments made and the same weren’t delivered. When we got to know that the tournament was rigged for a specific team to win, we withdrew our participation and did not sign any agreement. We made sure that the payments don’t clear as there was nothing to pay for and also informed other partners that we are out of this fraudulent tournament. We are pursuing this legally and will make sure that this goes through the right justice channels.”

Both Joshi and Kundra exchanged harsh words and made personal remarks against one another on Twitter besides maintaining that they were right and would fight the matter legally.


Meanwhile, the Indian Match Hold ’em Sport Confederation, the federation which organises the match poker league in India, in a statement noted, “Match Poker as a sport is completely transparent and cannot be ‘rigged’ in any way or form. We are shocked and saddened by these allegations (of rigging) being made by Mr. Sachiin Joshi as they are completely false.”

Patrick Nally, the President of the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP), which is the umbrella body responsible for overseeing the conduct of match poker tournaments also rubbished the allegations made by Joshi and said, “It is impossible for Match Poker to be ‘rigged’ or the system to be gamed. I can assure you that nothing of that sort has been done and the Match IPL, and Match Poker, is a clean and completely honest professionally run sports league. Mr. Sachiin Joshi’s allegations are unfounded and without any basis. Unless an unconditional apology is rendered by him immediately, we will be forced to explore our legal options against Mr. Sachiin Joshi.”


Mumbai All Stars wins Raj Kundra’s Match IPL, receives Rs. 1.25 crore prize money

Raj Kundra’s Viaan Industries and International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) promoted Match Indian Poker League (Match IPL) concluded their inaugural season with actor Harman Baweja’s Mumbai All Stars team winning the two-day event held in Mumbai on 17th and 18th November.

The Mumbai All Stars team will now get an opportunity to represent India in the Match Poker World at Oxford, England next month. 

Seven teams representing different cities from across the country spent two intense days competed in four sessions for prize money totaling Rs. 2.5 crores. Match IPL had earlier announced that eight teams would be participating in the league, but the Pune Knights team was terminated from the league for alleged ‘breach of contract’. Consequent to the removal of Pune Knights, the total prize money was reduced from Rs. 3.36 crores to Rs. 2.5 crores.

Poker player Aditya ‘Bitti’ Agarwal’s Jaipur Jewels team finished in the second place and received a prize money of seventy five lakh rupees while Yatin Gupta’s Ahmedabad Hearts finished third and took home fifty lakh rupees.

Agarwal also received the ‘Player of the League’ award, winning a prize of one lakh rupees and also getting a chance to participate in the Match Poker World Cup. The highlights of the league will be broadcast on television channel MTV on 30th November and 1st December.

After the event, a party was organised by Match IPL at the Theory restaurant in South Mumbai. The after-party was attended by celebrities such as Shamita Shetty, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Harman Baweja, Kunal Kohli, Anita Hassanandani Reddy and others.


Match IPL postponed to 17th & 18th November 2017

In what may be termed by some as a setback for Viaan Industries and International Federation of Poker (IFP) promoted Match Indian Poker League (Match IPL), it has been announced that the poker league will not take place on 14th and 15th October 2017 as was planned earlier.

It is learnt that the Raj Kundra promoted league will not be hosted next month as the eight team owners, who met today in Mumbai, felt there was too little time to promote their respective franchisees and monetise revenues from the tournament. The two-day league is now scheduled to take place on 17th and 18th November at the Playboy Club in Mumbai.

It is also understood that the team owners resolved today to reserve one spot in every team for a female players in a bid to encourage greater participation of women in the game of poker.

“Thank you dear team owners appreciate your suggestions and involvement. Looking forward to a grand event in November”, Kundra said on Twitter  while announcing the change in dates.

The two-day league is scheduled to be broadcast on entertainment channel MTV and entails a total prize money of Rs. 3 crores.

Legal & Regulatory

Is Match IPL illegally charging 'annual membership fees' from players?

Earlier this week, Raj Kundra-promoted Viaan Industries, announced that it was launching a Match Indian Poker League (Match IPL) in collaboration with Switzerland headquartered not-for-profit, International Federation of Poker (IFP).

Kundra during and before the launch emphasised that his new venture did not involve any betting or wagering and was a free-to-play sporting league. Unfortunately, it appears that he was being economical with the truth and that he suppressed facts about the format and revenue model of the tournament.

While Match IPL is structured like a sporting league, where eight teams that are given out to franchises, compete against one another, players who aspire to play in the league necessarily have to download the ‘IFP Match Poker’ mobile application and play poker against a mechanical bot.

Not only does one have to download the app, but if a player wishes to be considered to play in one of the teams of Match IPL, he would necessarily have to pay an annual membership fee of Rs. 999/- to qualify.  Further, IFP and Kundra have also stated that paying the annual membership fee and even winning the maximum points against the bot in the app would in no way guarantee a spot in any of the teams and the franchise owners would retain the sole right to decide the team composition.

In other words, the team owners retain the discretion to select any or none of the top performing players who participate in the app. A team retains the right to select all players who would play in the league from outside those paying the annual membership fee, i.e. from the circle of their friends, acquaintances etc.

It thus seems that the method of selection of players who would participate in Match IPL is non-transparent and arbitrary. While ordinarily a sporting league is entitled to have its own rules, even if they are arbitrary and whimsical selection guidelines, what could make the Match IPL team selection model illegal is the fact that they are charging membership fees from prospective players.

What is termed as ‘membership fees’ by IFP and Viaan Industries could actually be construed as a ‘bet’ or ‘wager’ by the player in exchange of a chance to participate in the Match IPL tournament and the possibility of winning cash prizes.

This claim is further strengthened by the fact that there is no objective or transparent criteria of awarding points to the players who participate in the app. Further, the argument of the player using his or her skill also does not seem to be a valid one as the player does not have to compete against peers, but against a bot. The argument that poker is a game of skill is only used when the game is played against other, human players, where one has to use mathematical, analytical, psychological and game theory skills.

Playing poker against a machine can hardly be said to be a game which is substantially and preponderantly dependent on skill.

Charging money in exchange of the possibility of winning a reward in a game that involves chance falls within the well-accepted definition of ‘gambling’, ‘gaming’ or ‘betting’. Various judgments of the Supreme Court and High Courts have also, while interpreting state gaming statutes, clarified this position.

From the above facts, it seems that the Match IPL app could be running in contravention of various state gaming legislations.

It would not be surprising if Kundra, who shut down his stock exchange game, when question marks were raised about its legality, would do the same with the Match IPL app. After all, starting and shutting down businesses seems to be Kundra’s forte, who it is alleged, has not paid dues to many of his vendors and employees.


Viaan Industries announces the launch of Match IPL, grand finale with Rs. 3 crore prize money on 15th October

Although there was some uncertainty earlier, Raj Kundra-promoted Viaan Industries has announced the launch of a new poker league, namely, the Match Indian Poker League (IPL) in a grand opening ceremony at ITC Maratha Hotel in Mumbai today.

Viaan Industries, which has launched the new poker league in collaboration with Switzerland-based International Federation of Poker (IFP), stated that eight city based teams would be competing against each other in Match Poker- a specially devised format of poker by IFP in an event to be organised on 14th and 15th October, 2017 in Mumbai.

The eight city based teams are Ahmedabad Hearts, Jaipur Jewels, Pune Knights, Kolkata Diamonds, Bangalore Royals, Goa Kings, Delhi Aces and Mumbai  All Stars. Some of the notable owners of the teams include actor Harman Baweja, poker player Aditya ‘Bitti’ Agarwal, poker club owner Shammi Karira, Sachiin Joshi, promoters of Radico Khaitan and Living Liquidz.

Match IPL on their website also announced that a total prize money of  Rs. 3 crores would be awarded to the winners of which, Rs. 1.5 crores would be awarded to the winning team, Rs. 1 crore would be awarded to the runners up and Rs. 50 lakhs would be awarded to the team that finishes third. IFP has also announced that the winning team would also be representing India in the poker league of nations organised by it.

Viaan Industries had earlier announced that the franchisees would be signing a 10-year agreement to purchase the teams and would be paying Rs. 50 lakhs as franchisee fees for the first year. Further details regarding the players who would be participating in the league and the structure of the league are still awaited.