Vishy goes 'all in', turns poker league ambassador – Times of India

Chennai: In the world of chess, he’s known as a ‘poker-faced’ player. Now, five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand has taken his moniker a step further, signing on as brand ambassador for a poker league in India.

The founders of the Poker Sports League (PSL) call it their ‘biggest move ever’, towards changing the negative perception of the game in the country.

Although he doesn’t play the game, Anand, who refers to poker as “chess with a deck of cards”, says he wants to learn the game as many of his friends in the chess circuit play Texas Hold ‘Em. “In chess, I am called the poker-faced player. So maybe it’s time to learn to play the game,” said Anand in an email interview about becoming the brand ambassador for the 2017 edition of PSL.

“I have been following poker for a few years now. It is a game of skill and that’s perhaps why chess players take to poker naturally. It’s got me intrigued,” said Anand, who now plans to learn the game as he is still, in chess terminology, an “unrated amateur” in poker.

“What I have observed though is that poker and chess have some similarities in thinking process and being a chess player may actually influence your poker playing style,” said Anand.

The idea behind PSL is to promote poker as a mind sport in the country, and that was primarily one of the reasons for signing Anand on, say the league founders.

According to PSL co-founder Amit Burman, “Chess and poker are frequently compared as both games are based on strategic thinking and decision making. Both games also involve reading the other player at the table.”

This year, 12 teams from across the country are competing for top honours at the PSL, supposedly India’s first professional poker league.

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