India’s Uday Bansal Wins First PokerStars Festival Manila Main Event

India’s Uday Bansal has won the inaugural PokerStars Festival Manila Main Event, the biggest international poker event to be held in the Philippines.

With a buy-in of PHP30,000, the event  attracted 594 entries and generated a prize pool of PHP28,809,000 ($572,190) surpassing the guaranteed amount of PHP20 million. Along with the prestigious trophy, Bansal’s title win has netted him a cash prize of PHP4,676,000 ($92,793).

Uday Bansal Profile

A native of Delhi, Bansal calls himself an amateur poker player. He has been playing poker for around seven years and his biggest poker win so far was when he finished as the runner up at the India Poker Championship in 2015 and won $15,942.

When not playing poker, Bansal runs his company ‘SkyBulls’ which specializes in financial advisory using artificial intelligence. He has a Master’s Degree in business administration and management from the London Business School.

Bansal closed in on the title after an exciting hour-long heads up with Finnish player Antti Halme which also included a deal for ICM numbers. Bansal gradually increased his chip lead over Halme and before the final hand, had gained a comfortable lead of 10:1 helping him take the title.

Bansal highlighted the growing presence of poker in the country and noted that it was exciting time for poker players. He also hoped that PokerStars would make an entry into the country soon.

In a statement Bansal said “I started playing about seven years ago, and about five years ago I was living in Vegas for two or three months playing poker and there was not that much happening in India. And now there poker rooms in most of the cities. There are big tournaments happening. We have the GOA [India Poker Championships] running which gets about 250 to 300 runners. So it’s pretty healthy and it’s growing steadily.”

Poker Thriving In India

Bansal has now reached the 24th spot in the all-time Indian live tournament winnings list with this recent win. The fact that an Indian poker player has won a PokerStars tournament Main Event also gives one the indication the increasing popularity of poker in India.

The Indian poker market is estimated to be in the region of Rs. 1000 crores (approx $150 million). The poker industry in India has been growing both offline and online. Numerous poker clubs are operational in major metro cities and several online poker sites offer poker and casino-style games. The leading online poker website in India is Adda52.com

This year alone, three poker leagues have been launched in India with each of the leagues promising to promote the game of poker and host lucrative poker tournaments going forward.