Mr X loves gambling and casinos. He bets on cricket,soccer,friends marriages and is generally obsessed with The Odds. Hes played all over the world and is a regular at high stake south Delhi card parties where lakhs routinely change hands at the end of an evening. A year ago,X sensed that Flash,or Teen Patti is losing its lustre since many more wealthy Indians are exposed to casinos abroad and want to experiment with a variety of games. X invested in a professional Roulette table,trained five people to assist him and now runs a private casino. So,for example,if youre hosting a cards do this Diwali season at your home,you can call X,who,for the price of Rs 1 lakh,sets up a Roulette table at your party with liveried staff,chips,and money. In precisely half-hour,a pretty fancy looking,if makeshift casino,is ready for operations. X is the banker and doesnt seem overtly concerned about losing the shirt off his back. Hes calculated the odds. Besides,as folklore goes,the casino always wins.
In India,however,there are many laws against the business of gambling though casinos are allowed in some parts. Indian laws also make a distinction between games of pure chance and those involving some skill. In the US,commercial casinos provided 354,000 jobs last year and huge tax revenues going into billions of dollars for the state. In the case of the European Union,theres a pretty clear pro-gambling position and though some individual member states have attempted to legislate on the activity,not much has happened. Casinos continue to flourish throughout Europe. In Delhi,Xs little business venture is completely illegal but in the rarefied and tiny circuit where he operates,its unlikely anyones going to sneak on him. Roulette is catching on,however,theres just one Mr X providing this service. The game thats been slowly accumulating a huge following is Poker.
There are a couple of Poker tables in Delhi where players fly down from Calcutta and Mumbai every weekend to be part of the game. The younger lot,students mainly,are hooked to it on Facebook where you can play safely,with imaginary chips. One hardcore player I know disparagingly refers to Teen Patti as a ladies kitty party game and insists that even in Clubs with Card Rooms,poker tables will soon be the rage. Teen Patti to Poker converts have interesting reasons for switching. There have been too many occasions at high stake games where anonymous but professional players have cleaned out unsuspecting amateurs. In poker,falling victim to a cheat is not an issue since you can lose with Aces,unlike Flash. Poker fans claim it is way more cerebral,based more on skill than luck. In December this year,Goa is hosting the India Poker Championship,where the prize pool is Rs 10 lakh. Several thousand players have registered already. For more information log onto indiapokerchampionship.com