Face to face
“We intend to take Spartan Poker on international level”
Amin Rozani, the Badshaah, the Shah Rukh Khan of Indian Poker Industry has been aggressively promoting the game in India. Thanks to his grand vision and flamboyant nature now the game of Poker is being taken very seriously in the country. With his trademark style he has hammered his two, now popular, slogans “It’s a mind game” and “Good things are happening in Poker” very effectively.
He is very humble, down to earth and soft-spoken. Yet, he has presented many a time his daring attitude which has taken people by surprise. With his out of the box thinking, he has created with his team, India’s best, the numero uno Poker website. If you wish to play Poker you gotta be at spartanpoker.com.
He is one of the most influential advocates of the game and authorities take his views very seriously. He was a member of the Law Commission panel constituted by Supreme Court of India, to look into the issue of legalising betting and gambling. It is his effort that Poker is attracting smarter crowds.
Amin Rozani firmly believes poker makes you a much sharper individual. In a telephonic chat in these daunting times when the fear of Chinese virus has swept the world, he speaks with confidence and full of positivity about the recently concluded IPC Tournament, and shares his future plans with Krishna Kumar Mishra.
There is collective view that post-Covid-19 people across the continent will undergo a lot of change, including how people will behave and entertain themselves. Your take?
Yes, we’ve already seen a lot of change in people’s behavior in terms of the options they chose for their entertainment. Their shopping pattern has given a big hit to retail sector and the social entertaining too has got a jolt. We are also a part of the digital world and see a lot of new people getting attracted towards online poker.
The lockdown gave people a lot of free time. What kind of impact Spartan Poker is registering?
We have seen a growth of 100 percent but there are two dimensions to it. One is in terms of the time they spend on the site which has certainly increased. However, because of economy and low sentiment a lot of people have started spending a little less. But as they are at home, nothing much to do so they do come on the site. But the good thing is they are playing.
Are you getting new leads?
Yes, we are attracting a lot of new people. The database we are collecting right now would be very helpful in the long run. Once the lockdown opens up and people are back at their job, with sentiment rising up again, that would be the time when we would be able to capitalize more on this database.
We hope that lockdown would be over, maybe in a quarter’s time. I’m very optimistic person. I’m sure good times will be back soon. Whenever that happens I believe that those people whom we’ve acquired and registered even if they may not spend enough time on the site still they will visit our site once in a while. So the situation for the online segment would be a little better than what it was prior to the lockdown.
That means the lockdown is kind of blessing in disguise?
I believe it would be a blessing quite openly for the pharma, hygiene, utility products, in a way the complete health sector. These are the products of the future worldwide. People will be investing a lot more on their hygiene and maybe a little bit more on digital entertainment.
“The new VIP Club consists of an extravagant joyride with exciting cash prizes, tournament tickets, rewards like luxury cars, international travel packages to name a few. To enroll and unlock these exciting offers, a player needs to have an account on Spartan Poker and he will get auto-registered in The VIP Club. The VIP points come with no expiry. To claim endless rewards, a player needs to keep playing and start accumulating all the VIP points.”
Do you feel the number of USPs of Spartan Poker will have to be increased?
In fact, in the last quarter itself we were planning for a new VIP Programme which will allow players to win really fancy and expensive gifts. It is supposed to be a new and exclusive tournament. A lot of groundwork was done and we planned to launch it in early April. Now in the prevailing situation the team has ample time at hand to make sure it is marketed well in advance. In the VIP Programme we offer up to 60 percent of cash back to the players and they’ll also get gifts like fancy holidays and fancy cars. The top prize is a Land Rover. To answer your question specifically, I must confess that we have already added quite a few USPs. Moving further also we have plans for all our customers to ensure they get really fancy return for their time spent on Spartan.
Tell us about recently concluded India Poker Championship.
This year, we had IPC in January in the Big Daddy Casino at Goa. We had more than 30 celebrities across the industry from TV to digital to Bollywood. Neha Dhupia, Dino Morea, Kunal Khemu, Raj Kundra and many more graced the occasion. The first prize of the main event was close to `60 lakh. We got a very good response and more than 4000 people visited and participated. With this yet again we broke our previous record and made the IPC the biggest reputed tournament in Asian continent. We hope to start the next edition at the earliest.
Share the experience and the lessons?
Every event provides a learning experience and teaches us something new. It helps us to gather feedback from the players in terms of their experience in the registration process, the food, the tournament timing, the guarantee and the marketing. With all the inputs that we’ve gathered we’ll try to improve the next season a lot better.
Any other place you have in mind beside Goa?
IPC is a huge property and we like to keep it within India. Currently Goa provides the best infrastructure as Big Daddy Casino is by far the biggest and best in the country. IPC is a big event. It needs a lot of space to accommodate 50 tables and large gathering. But whenever we’ll get another option we’re open to explore.
What is the road ahead?
We intend to take Spartan Poker on international level and to have ventures in Asia and Africa. At the domestic front we plan to do a lot of tie ups with other sites, merge them to make a bigger ecosystem. This way we can cut down expenses, or share our cost amongst the sites and pass on the benefit to players.
You’ve been constantly pushing your own benchmarks right from the Company’s inception. What is the secret?
I think discipline makes a lot of sense. I’ve a fantastic team. People who are associated with us in one way or the other, most of them are young, passionate and motivated to achieve their goals. I feel I just got lucky. I ask my team to explore, make mistakes. The team is very charged up and they are not afraid of making mistakes. If it goes right then we celebrate, and if not, then we learn from it and do it better next time. That has been working really well.
What is your growth projection for the current fiscal?
This year we should be adding 20-25 percent more in our top line. However, for this year final figure is yet to be calculated. But if you combine all our properties surely we would be 100 crore plus.
What is your philosophy of life?
Work hard, keep learning, have some
discipline, give your 100 per cent to whatever you do, and passion to be number one. I’m in love with Poker and want to experience how it can help everyone personally in terms of their patience level and in terms of their thinking rationally.
What is your routine like?
I like getting up early and workout for an hour. After I see my son going to school, I head to my office and reach by 0930 AM. I’m in office till 10 or sometime 11 at night.
Your defining moment?
When I joined Spartan and was given the role of CEO it was not doing well and we were almost planning to shut down. Before that I used to get up at noon but the immense pressure and responsibility shaped and defined my personality altogether. I became an early riser, a disciplined man with a high level of patience. I think that was my defining moment.
How you make a balance between your various passions?
My biggest passion is Poker and my work followed by the time with my son. The first two are at the same place. In a way, my life is around work and my son. So I don’t find any problem.
Which of your personality traits, you feel, has not been widely known?
Probably I take a lot of risk in business. I also put across my point of view very humbly. I try to ask the team for solution rather than getting them my thought process of how it is to be done.
Any regrets that you wish to share?
I wouldn’t say it regret but yes, I wish I would have improved my lifestyle at a much younger age. Like, I got into fitness late. That could have been better, but, as they say, never late.