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The news about women in India has been pretty serious lately A lot of the recent news has a lot to do with with women’s voting rights across the country and whether or not it’s safe for a women to visit Goa without worrying about sexual violence. Then, tension between women and the state escalated even higher when the Goa government made the decision to allow bars and liquor stores to remain open until 4 a.m. While the decision was made to accommodate the many tourists that visit Goa, women’s right’s organizations fear that it encourages Indian men to develop even worse drinking habits and leads to more safety issues for women.

So what is the good news coming out of Goa? As one of the few states in India that allow gambling, it’s become a very popular vacation destination. It’s also the place where Indian poker enthusiasts hop on legally-sanctioned floating casinos to duke it out on high-stakes tables. And aside from former WPT Paris winner and enigma Surinder Sunar, Goa is one of India’s only claims to fame in the Poker world. One thing that’s been missing from India’s poker conversation is the subject of women poker players.

Right now, there are two Indian women who have slowly risen in the ranks of the poker world. One of those women, Goa University-graduate Amrita Verma is not only a maven at the poker table, but as Head of Sales and Business Development for iCyberGame, she is developing software for a great, new online poker application. 

Professional model and Bollywood actress Anjali Pandey doesn’t seem bothered by the idea of going out to Goa. In fact, she prefers making the trip out there to play on their live tables rather than playing online. In February of 2011, she came in third place at the Indian Poker Championship 5K Freezout event in Goa. Months later in another match she lost to another Indian female poker star, Sudha Kedia. Here’s what Pandey had to say in a 2011 interview: “I still don’t see a lot of women playing poker in India. We need to encourage them to participate more and more.” 

The relatively new relationship between Indian women and poker goes from normal examples like these to the more wild and extreme associations like the one of model, actress, and Twitter sensation Poonam Pandey. In 2011 she made headlines when her seductive strip-tease videos caught the attention of an American gaming company, which then offered to create a strip poker game for Android and iOS users. “It is like the famous Teen Patti game,” Pandey told Times of India. “They will first show my video and when the game starts. As the player starts clearing various levels of the game, I will start stripping. I don’t mind stripping, but to what stage I will be doing it, I can’t say that now.” The game was never released.

While Pandey’s association with poker is, indeed, a stretch, India is gradually becoming more progressive, welcoming more women into the voting booth and poker games. Soon we will see more Indian faces in televised poker games and more names on those All-Time Money lists.


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