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The next wave of poker talent: Indians

In the gambling dens just off the shore of the state of Goa in India, the next wave of poker talent is growing: Brilliant young whiz kids who excel at math -- and love cards:

“I don’t remember if I ever got paid for scoring a 100 in mathematics in school. But at a poker table, I apply my maths to calculate pot odds and probabilities of cards yet to show up, and I win. Besides the numbers involved, I also make sure I play the players at the table, not just the rank of my cards,” says the strapping young man with a baby-face, who calmly confesses to bluffing every tenth hand he plays, on average. Poker, played with the standard pack of 52 cards, is fast becoming a cult phenomenon in India, and Jain is one among many who’ve avidly taken to the game. Unlike other casino games, it does not involve any wheels spun, dice thrown, buttons pushed or breaths withheld for nothing but an extraordinary stroke of luck. Poker is different. Sure, it’s about the hand you’re dealt, but once that’s done, it’s also a game of skill and strategy. It involves reading your rivals’ mind, some mathematical aptitude to gauge the odds of various card hands, a great deal of patience… and a pinch of luck (only a pinch, no kidding; read the accompanying piece ‘ How I won Rs 1 lakh in Goa ’).

As a longtime journalist in Southern Nevada, native Las Vegan Andrew Kiraly has served as a reporter covering topics as diverse as health, sports, politics, the gaming industry and conservation. He joined Desert Companion in 2010, where he has helped steward the magazine to become a vibrant monthly publication that has won numerous honors for its journalism, photography and design, including several Maggie Awards.