In the News

We got funded :)- 9stacks becomes the first online poker platform to raise series A funding

Last week, we announced that 9stacks has raised 28 crore INR in a Series A Funding Round. The round was led by WaterBridge Ventures and included Astarc Ventures, Vinay Mittal, and our existing pool of angel investors.

For me, two things made this round special:

  • This is the first Series A raised by any Indian online poker company - a real vote of confidence in our team and the systems and processes we’ve put in place.

  • Many of our initial angel investors participated in this round again! Usually startups don’t expect angels to invest in subsequent rounds, but we were pleasantly surprised to see the strong interest from our early backers. Here’s hoping to generate stellar returns for them in the years ahead!

We had started 9stacks last year aiming to provide an authentic, transparent and simple online poker experience, which would make poker a fun sport for everyone. Along the way, we introduced many innovations to the Indian poker industry:

  • The Dual Wallet system  which soon became an industry benchmark

  • Our loyalty points - StackUp points - which offer super value to regular players

  • Sending 25 people to Vegas!

  • Our promotions and tournaments like Goal Digger, Tournament Milestone, Rush, Texasmash, Stack Wars, Peti@FT,  etc which the poker community has appreciated, and have been hugely successful.

  • All day time cash-outs within 2 hours, 365 days a year! And all night cashouts by the next morning. And all these cashouts happen after full fraud detection, thanks to automation and machine learning.

  • Last but not the least, we launched the Skills Dashboard, which is India’s first and only analytics tool to make YOU a better poker player. (Do try it if you haven’t yet - and yes, we’ll keep adding features to that as well!)

We have tried to break barriers and fight stereotypes at every step, be it encouraging women vociferously in the field of  poker, or building a fully automated, data driven platform with one of the safest and fastest cash out processes in the industry today.

And I’m glad we’ve been able to build a great team along the way!

It’s been a good year, and we look forward to more fun and games (of poker) ahead!

To read about our funding stories and to know what our investors have to say about us, please click on the links below.

Economic Times CalvinAyre.com VCCircle Entrackr GLaws IndiaToday Dalal StreetJournal

Sudhir Kamath

Nishant Sharma poised to take over the WSOP Main Event, #Bina Dare!

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While most 20 somethings are figuring out what to do with their lives, 26 years old #9stacksTeamIndia member,  Nishant Sharma is on his way to create history at the World Series of Poker 2018 in Las Vegas.

After smashing the #LFGVegas contest on 9stacks & winning the trip to Vegas as well as the $10k WSOP Main Event ticket, Nishant, AKA ‘DojingBULLETS’ has been giving a very tough time to all the WSOP veterans. All this on his very first foray at the WSOP Vegas! Whew!

Leading the Indian contingent into a historic moment at the World Championship, Nishant has just concluded Day 5 of the $10,000 Buy in Main Event (8.8MN GTD) with a very good looking stack of 5,800,000 and ranks at number 15 currently. The chip leader has a stack of about 12 MN, currently. Friend, colleague and fellow #9stacksTeamIndia member, Vivek Rughani is also going strong with a stack of 1,545,000 at rank 93.

Day 5 was brutal as it started out with 309 challengers and ended with only 109 survivors for Day 6. It has been a 40 hour plus grind and only the fittest have survived so far. 

Nishant started playing poker during college with his gamer friends and within a span of almost two years quit his job in event management to focus on poker professionally!
 

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Armed with his bright blue headphones and the famous mask, Nishant has been conquering major Multi Table Tournaments in India , as well as international tournaments in his characteristic, #BinaDare style. 

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 He has been playing a very focussed, consistent  game throughout the Main Event  and has remained completely unfazed and patient in high pressure situations. He has always preferred the MTT structure and  all that grinding for long hours over the years has led up to this moment. 

This is the first time any Indian poker player has gotten so deep in the Main Event.  Team 9stacks wishes the Nishant  and Vivek  the very best for day 6. Join us to cheer then on and watch LIVE updates tomorrow on our Instagram stories here :  

Good luck, Nishant, #LetsBringItHome  

No pressure, but yes pressure! :-p

 

 

Vivek Rughani ‘beasts’ it up at the WSOP Main Event 2018!

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Known for his beastly form on the poker tables, Vivek ‘Ik’ Rughani, AKA ‘Ibeasteverything’ on 9stacks has made a stunning entry into the top 309 grinders who have survived the brutal Day 4 of the  WSOP Main Event. 

9 Indian challengers took on the Main Event this time and Rughani is among the 3 who not only survived, but have also set the tables on fire  with their game. Rughani ends Day 4 with a flourish, bagging a good looking stack of 107,600 and coming In-The -Money ($37000 onwards) 

This is a historic moment for #9stacksTeamIndia as this is the first time anyone from the Indian contingent has made it so deep into the Main Event! Rughani outlasted  poker legends like Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth, along with other Indian poker greats like Jaideep Sajwan, Aditya Agarwal, Rohan Bhasin, Yudhishter Singh Jaswal , Sriharsha Doddapeneni and Apoorva Goel! 

Vivek Rughani participated in the 9stacks #LFGVegas  contest where all those who cracked Level 42 , the Platinum Stack, won a trip to Vegas and bankroll worth $999 to play poker during the WSOP.  Playing  and winning at the World Series of Poker had been a cherished dream for Rughani and we, along with him, wait with bated breath to watch him make it come true!

Rughani,a  professional poker player along with his friend and contemporary, Nishant Sharma started his WSOP journey earlier than the rest of the #lFGVegas pack, by playing the Monsterstack Venetian in June. After stunning the tables there, he moved on to dominate the tables at the Main Event and has been holding his own very well ever since!

Team 9stacks and every one back home wishes the ace the very best and we hope Vivek brings back home that beautiful bracelet!

Watch the LIVE UPDATES on our Instagram page and stories every day and cheer the G.O.A.T on ! Click here to follow us now!

#9stacksTeam India on a roll at the World Series of Poker, Las Vegas!

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Join us to cheer #9stacksTeamIndia at the World Series of Poker 2018 as they set the tables ablaze with their talent! 

9stacks had launched a 4 month long #LFGVegas challenge  with the aim of taking  a team of talented and passionate poker players across the country to Las Vegas during the WSOP season this summer.

The participants had to reach level 42 to win a free trip to Las Vegas, and level 75 for a WSOP Main Event ticket worth $10,000! 

We got an overwhelming participation from the Indian poker community with more than 40 players winning the Vegas package and 12 of them, winning the WSOP Main Event tickets. 

Over the last two weeks, 23 players flew to Las Vegas and have been on a roll every since! What is extremely exciting to note is that most of these players are playing the WSOP for the very first time AND have left an indelible mark at the tables with their game!

WSOP first timer and #LFGVegas qualifier Mayank Jaggi warmed up by grabbing the 6th spot at the Wynn Summer Classic 1 Million GTD NLHE tournament on the 28th of June 2018, winning a cool 56K in USD i.e about Rs 38 Lakh INR! Mayank plays the Main Event this week and we’re cheering him on to bring home THE bracelet! 

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Pros Nishant Sharma and Vivek Rughani, both terrific strategists on the tables, started their WSOP journey early, by playing the Monster Stack tournaments. From the updates we’ve been getting, both have made everyone in the arena sit up and take notice of their game! 

Both played the WSOP Main Event Day 1C and made it to day 2 with some very good looking stacks! Good Luck, boys!

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All of us lesser mortals back home can only wait for more updates on the fun they’re having at the tables. Watch the LIVE updates on our Instagram channel, @9stacksgaming and never miss out an important moment from these guys!

Arsh Grover aka @BigggTymeR and Vishal Tulsyan aka @Spartacus also battled valiantly  against thousands of Main Event participants but could not make it to Day 2. Well played and GG, Guys! Let’s crush the other tournaments!

First timers Aditya Pratap Singh and Rishab Jain are having a blast the casinos, playing smaller tournaments and winning big. 
 

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Rishab Jain made it to  Day 2 of the Main Event with a happy looking 97900 but busted out last night.

Aditya Pratap Singh (@muck_u) cashed $1000 in the  Goliath 500K GTD tournament &the Nuggets 500K GTD each on his maiden venture at the WSOP 2018. Aditya is now on day 2 and here's wishing him the best for an awesome run at the tables!

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9stacks co founder Pratik Kumar has also been killing it at the tables. This is his first time at the WSOP as well and  @Lazybones has lost no time in making the most of it by indulging himself in doing what he loves doing best- play poker all day! He has already landed in-the-money at one of the tournaments at the Aria casinos, with a great looking stack of 4,30,000!

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Sanjay Taneja (@Werewolf ) and Dinesh Singh (@FI$H) also join him in Vegas for all the fun as they hit the cash tables and participate in the innumerable tournaments that make up the WSOP. The trio makes for a deadly THREE OF A KIND, indeed. :P

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Keep watching this space for all the madness, the fun and 9stacks Team India 2018 is having in Vegas only on 9stacks!

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram on our handle: @9stacksgaming

Cheers,

Team 9stacks
 

SHETHEPEOPLETV : Indian Poker Company Sponsors Women Players

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In a bid to challenge gender stereotypes, Indian poker company, 9stacks, has signed a sponsorship deal with nine women players from across the country. The upcoming website wants to reach out to a larger and gender neutral customer base. These nine women represented the brand in the recently concluded Deltin Poker Tournament.

“Poker is a mind sport that requires strategic acumen regardless of their gender. We think there’s a huge market to tap, and we just need a small push to encourage more women to take up poker either professionally or just for fun,” 9stacks founder Sudhir Kamat said.
The company has named the team - The Nine Missketeers owing to their number.

Pro Muskan Sethi is going to lead the team at the tournament. The women come from diverse backgrounds. One is the founder of a news website about poker, Rupal Bansal, the other is a journalist, Radhika Mahalingaiah. There is also an IIM Kozhikode graduate, Lavanya Thota, and CA Ritu Chadha, communications professional, Sakshi Misra, advocacy professional, Chandni Malik, fashion designer Simrit Tiwana and online player, Prashaste Sinha.

For Sethi, this is the second major poker event that she took part in after she won PokerStars SharkCage qualifier three years ago through a free ticket
Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) is India’s largest poker tournament that ran from February 15 to 19 in Goa.

For Sethi, this is the second major poker event that she took part in after she won PokerStars SharkCage qualifier three years ago through a free ticket. In November, 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind also awarded her as she is the first woman in the country making a name in a man’s game.

Sethi stepped into poker in 2010 after watching WPT tournaments and watching Poker After Dark on YouTube consistently. She has raised $150,000 playing online and in live tournaments.

Sports and gaming in general have few women as professionals. While cultural stereotyping plays a big role, it also discourages women from trying out new things in life. Poker is one such game where we seldom hear about women. This initiative will hopefully spread awareness about the women’s game in the poker circuit and beyond.

This extract has been taken from the original article published on www.SheThePeople.com. To read the original article, click here.

Missketeer Muskan Sethi finishes 5th in the High Roller tournament during the Deltin Poker Tournament in Goa

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Leader of the Nine Missketeers, Muskan Sethi finished 5th in the High Roller Final Table during the Deltin Poker Tournament in Goa between 15th -19th February, 2018.

Muskan, who is the first Indian woman professional poker player to be awarded the President’s award for successfully carving her niche in the male dominated sport of Poker, recently, was one of the two women players who made it to the Final Table.

Muskan was short stacked on day 2 of the Highroller, with only 12 BB in hand. However, she neither lost hope, nor confidence, nor sight of her goals and survived till the Final Table with 10 BB  in hand! She finished 5th at the Final Table with 148000 chips and won Rs 4,27,600.

Muskan is one of the finest poker players in the country today  and has been continouslly shattering the glass ceiling in poker , and revamping notions about women who play poker. Muskan's stupendous grit and performance in the Highroller is testament that patience, strategy, hard work and sheer grit to never lose sight of the winning goal is what makes poker such a fascinating mind sport.

We wish her all the best for her endeavours in the future.

To get to know more about her poker journey, click here

Team 9stacks

Poker Tube : The Nine Missketeers Ready to Cross Poker Swords in India

By- 

Andrew Burnett,17 hours ago

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They are being billed as the Missketeers, but as opposed to the three (or sometimes four) Frenchmen, this bunch of fighters consists of nine poker-playing Indian women – an all-female team ready to hit the tournament circuit for their sponsors 9stacksgaming.

As well as the already widely-known Muskan Sethi pictured above – recently honoured for her poker contribution as one of 100 outstanding women achievers who have excelled in professions typically dominated by males – the Nine Missketeers cover a variety of backgrounds.

Journalist and scrabble fan Radhika Mahalingaiah is in the team, as is chartered accountant Ritu Chadha and fashion designer Simrit Tiwana makes the grade too, as does youngest member of the new crew, Lavanya Thota.

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The full roster of poker-loving women getting set to dive into action later this month at the Deltin Poker Tournament, played aboard the biggest floating casino in Goa, the Deltin Royale.

This excerpt has been taken from the article published on PokerTube by Andrew Burnett, on the 19th of February 2018. To read the original article, click here.

Calvinayre.com : India’s Deltin Poker tournament sees strong female participation

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By :  Erik Gibbs ON February 19, 2018 for www.calvinayre.com

Last year, India saw a marked increase in amateur poker enthusiasm in the country. The game has become particularly popular among women and has even commanded support by President Ram Nath Kovind, who honored 100 female players at a ceremony in November.  One of the newest online poker sites, 9stacks, is latching on to the fervor and is sponsoring nine females at the Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT), India’s largest poker tournament, running February 15 to 19.

9stacks’ founder Sudhir Kamath hopes to increase gender diversity in the country, and to inspire women to take up poker. The group, who has received the nickname “the Nine Missketeers,” is being led by Muskan Sethi, one of the women honored by Kovind last year. The group also includes journalist Radhika Mahalingaiah, writers Chandni Malik and Simrit Tiwana, social media experts Sakshi Misra and Prashaste Sinha, entrepreneur Ritu Chadha, India Institute of Management graduate Lavanya Thota and former Online Poker News founder Rupal Bansal.

Sethi is a professional poker player originally from New Delhi. Besides dedicating a great deal of time to the game, the 28-year-old is also employed as a social worker. Since picking up poker in 2010, she has racked up $150,000 playing online and in live tournaments. Her inspiration to get involved came from watching reruns of WPT tournaments and watching Poker After Dark on YouTube. She won a PokerStars SharkCage qualifier three years ago through a free ticket and took a seat at the $1 million event against some of the biggest names in poker.

Poker in India, as it has been in many parts of the world, has been dominated by male players. This has changed recently, as more women have been joining online poker sites in the country. 9Stacks decided to encourage more women to play, with Kamat stating, “Given that poker is a mind sport that requires strategic acumen regardless of [the] gender we think there’s a huge market waiting to be tapped here.”

The DPT has around $400,000 up for grabs, with the NLHE Main Event offering a prize pool of $180,000. There are also Pot-Limit Omaha, Bounty and High Roller tournaments available. The results of the final table action, including whether or not any of the Missketeers made it all the way through, have not been released at the time of publishing.

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This extract has been taken from the original article published on https://calvinayre.com by Erik Gibbs on the 19th of February, 2018.

To read the original article, click here

Cards Chat News : Indian Poker Site Challenges Gender Stereotypes by Sponsoring Female Players

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February 18th, 2018 by Daniel Smyth

The Indian poker industry is leading the way in breaking down gender boundaries thanks to a sponsorship deal involving an all-female cast.

Part of the industry’s ongoing efforts to paint a positive public image and reach as many consumers as possible, online upstart 9stacks announced a new partnership with nine players.

Under the terms of the deal, India’s newest online site has recruited women from across the country to represent its brand at the Deltin Poker Tournament this February and beyond.

As well as representing the brand, the women will be aiming to show casual observers that poker isn’t just a man’s game.

Ambassadors Represent Women and Poker

Dubbed the Nine Missketeers and led by established pro Muskan Sethi, the team hail from a variety of backgrounds. As well as Rupal Bansal, the founder of an online poker news site, the ambassadors include a journalist (Radhika Mahalingaiah), an IIM Kozhikode graduate (Lavanya Thota) and chartered accountant Ritu Chadha.

Although poker around the world has gradually diversified in recent years thanks to high profile wins by the likes of Vanessa Selbst and Liv Boeree, a deal of this magnitude is rare.

What’s more, with attitudes to women in sport not being as liberal in India as they are in other parts of the world, 9stacks’ announcement is even more significant.

“Given that poker is a mind sport that requires strategic acumen regardless of their gender we think there’s a huge market waiting to be tapped here, and we just need a small push to encourage more women to take up poker either professionally or just for fun,” 9stacks founder Sudhir Kamat said.

Another Honor for Sethi

For team leader Sethi, this is the second major honor earned from her time in poker. Back in November 2017, the poker pro and animal rights activist was honored with a Women’s Achievers Award for making a name for herself in a “male-dominated” profession.

“This time, we thought it fitting to bring together women who have been the first to make a career in male-dominated professions on a common platform and laud their achievement,” Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi told the Hindustan Times in October.

Named alongside 99 influential women in India, Sethi was recognized by President Ram Nath Kovind.

That award was not only a personal achievement for Sethi, but another example of how women and poker are starting to earn more respect among those in power as well as the general public in India.

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This extract has been taken from the original article by Daniel Smyth for CardsChat.com.

Read the original article by www.cardschat.com here : https://www.cardschat.com/news/indian-poker-site-challenges-gender-stereotypes-sponsorship-deal-58587

YourStory.com : With virtual skill-based gaming startup 9stacks, IITians and IIM alumnus have an ace up their sleeve

 

9stacks lets virtual gamers play online real-money poker and is betting big on the gaming industry in India, which is pegged at $60 billion, globally,  as of now.

What happens when 3 IITians from Kharagpur and one IIM-Ahmedabad student get together? There is business magic.

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Sudhir Kamath, Pratik Kumar, Rishabh Mathur, and Abhinav Nigam met through common friends in 2016 and realised that they had several common interests when it came to business ideas. But one of these ideas was on top of their list.

Pratik, who had been playing poker for many years and won online and offline poker events, came up with idea for 9Stacks in January 2016. It was a great idea as KPMG estimates that the online poker industry in India is to the tune of $100 million a year, not including the many Indians who play on foreign websites.

The 9Stacks team expects this market to hit $1 billion in the next 3-5 years, driven both by growth in the number of users and in the average value per customer. Their aim? “To be one of the top 3 players at that time.”

Sudhir Kamath, CEO and co-founder of 9Stacks, says: “For the first few months we worked on the business plan, started architecting the product, and had discussions with potential angel investors. In parallel, we got advice from lawyers and tax advisors on how best to structure the company’s operations, given the realities of operating a real-money poker company. In about 4 months we had all reached the conclusion that we had to commit full time to 9stacks, and put in our papers.”

Sudhir, 39 years old and an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, was formerly CEO at Suntera Energy (oil exploration) and McKinsey. He is also an angel investor in companies like INI Farms, Vienova Technologies, Shiksha Finance, and Swas Healthcare.

But the idea of 9Stacks came from poker fanatic Pratik. The 35-year-old former CMO of Nykaa.com and founding team member of Zivame.com has been responsible for marketing and product development in various roles. He has advised startups such as TVF, Roposo, Biba, and VelvetCase in marketing and scaling up operations.

The other two co-founders also come with stellar experience. Rishabh, 35, headed mobile technology for Nearbuy (Groupon India) and was Co-founder and CTO at 9monks and Blot Canvas.

Abhinav, 36, came with operations and strategy consulting experience at Boston Consulting Group and Accenture Strategy.

 

Here’s how it works

 

Real-money poker has a simple rake-based revenue model – every time customers wager against each other (never against the house) 9Stacks takes a small percentage from the winner’s pot. The major costs of the business are technology, marketing, and customer retention.

“The business will always make money. It is a tried-and-tested model, and this is one of the things that investors like about the sector,” Sudhir says. He adds that theirs is the “best and safest place for customers to play online poker”.

The company - with an investment of less than Rs 60 lakh - was launched in August 2017, and has been earning revenues from the first day of operations. They are on track to achieve operational breakeven within the next two quarters and complete breakeven (positive cash flows) within 18 months. Sources say that they have closed a funding round of Rs 10 crore in angel funding.

 

The challenges

 

The challenges are broadening the market to attract many more “casual” players who will play poker for fun, and at the same time see poker as a legitimate pursuit where they can leverage their skills to make money. This is their product challenge – to figure out what kind of games, tournament structures appeal to these players.

There is also the user experience challenge; basically how to make 9Stacks’ games easiest to play on mobiles. They are in place with the website, and say the poker lobby is “responsive and intuitive”.

The process challenge means the team must ensure that they have the quickest cash-outs when people withdraw money. Last but not the least is the marketing challenge – reaching “good” users when there are “restrictions to the channels we can use to reach them”.

 

What’s on the cards?

 

9Stacks’ competition comes from other poker sites, including companies such as Adda 52. However, they compete with other real money game-of-skill companies, including online rummy companies like RummyCircle and Ace2Three, as well as fantasy league companies like Dream11. The Indian industry is yet to scale up and has close to 100,000 people playing online. Big revenues are still a problem in the industry because of the low user base.

V Ganapathy, CEO of Axilor Ventures, says: “Gaming is big business. But scaling up in India is big challenge.”

But the co-founders’ time in various businesses have taught them the value of keeping things simple and that’s what they are trying to do at 9stacks. Their focus is on customers above short-term profitability – this is a sector where the lifetime value of a customer is very high.

The team says they don’t want to go in for fancy promotions or complicated offers. They’ve chosen to go in for simple signup processes and easy and quick cash-outs to make gaming a seamless experience.

“This also reflects in our user interface, which is simple and intuitive, and our clean look and feel,” Sudhir says.

Over the next few years, 9Stacks hopes to be a big player in poker. They have to spend money on increasing the user base and will have to do so with increased social media marketing spends. And they seem to be playing their cards right!

This extract has been taken from the original article written for www.yourstory.com by Vishal Krishna on the 14th of February, 2018. To read the original article, click here