Team India at the 2023 Asian Nations Cup in Hong Kong – The Full Story

The 2023 Match Poker Asian Championships in Hong Kong was shaping up to be the biggest and most high profile event yet, with 12 national teams competing and Team India set to defend its title.

In November 2019, at the previous edition of the Asian Nations Cup held in Taoyuan city, Chinese Taipei, the Indian national team lead by Gaurav Gala were crowned Champions. The squad comprised of Gaurav Gala (C), Tanmay Bagga, Rishab Jain, Aditya Agarwal, Krina Gala, Taran Mundkar and Prateek Mishra.

Team India crowned Asian Champions in 2019 in Taiwan


The pressure would be on the Indians in Hong Kong as they were being billed as the team to beat. Our national team didn’t have their best performance at the 2021 Nations Cup Finals held in Macedonia last May but were determined to learn from their mistakes and do better in HK. 

A strong squad was put together, bringing together players that have a proven track record of success in the Match Poker format both in the national league (MatchIPL) as well as at international events like the Nations Cup.

The original squad was:


  • Jagdeep Singh (C): Arguably India’s best performing Match Poker athlete, Jagdeep has been competing at the highest level since the inception of the Match Indian Poker League in 2017 where he first tasted success with the Mumbai All Stars. He has since created his own team, the Haryana Hawks, and lead them to victory in season 2 and 4 of the national league. He has represented Team India on 4 previous occasions – 2017 Nations Cup, 2018 Asian Championship, 2021 Nations Cup Qualifiers, 2021 Nations Cup Finals.

  • Shuchi Chamaria: Shuchi has been a regular participant in the national league, playing an integral role in the Pune Kings victory in season 3 under the leadership of Gaurav Gala. She then went on to represent Team India at the 2019 Nations Cup in Dublin.

  • Harman Baweja: A Bollywood producer and movie star, Harman’s talents go well beyond acting as he’s proven time and again. Against the odds his ‘celebrity’ Mumbai All Stars team emerged victorious in the inaugural season of the MatchIPL, leading to him captaining the national team at the 2017 Nations Cup in Oxford where India finished 5th overall. Since then his team has finished runners-up twice in the national league, and this would be his second opportunity to play for his nation.

  • Abhishek Jalan: Abhishek was a member of Harman’s Mumbai All Stars in MatchIPL’s first season and after tasting success he too created his own team, the UP Indians, who he lead to a podium finish in seasons 2 and 4 of the league. Jalan was also part of the Indian team in Oxford at the 2017 Nations Cup and is very excited to have the opportunity to play for the national team once again.

  • Aditya Agarwal: Aditya was an integral member of the title winning Indian squad in Taiwan and after having tasted success there was desperate to help defend the Championship, and add another gold medal to his collection. He was awarded ‘Player of the Tournament’ after his solid performance in the inaugural season of the Match Indian Poker League which not only helped his team, the Jaipur Jewels, finish in second place but also allowed him to become a part of the national team. He has represented Team India on 3 previous occasions – 2017 Nations Cup, 2019 Asian Nations Cup and the 2020 Virtual Nations Cup.

  • Abhishek Goindi: Abhishek was a member of the national team for India’s first ever performance in a Match Poker event – the Asian Nations Cup in Sanya, China in 2013! Since then he has gone on to really improve his skills and also teaches poker through his Poker Bootcamp. He has fond memories of his previous participation and representing India, is extremely excited to see the evolution of the sport over the past 10 years and having the opportunity to put on the blue jersey once again.

  • Gaurav Gala: Gala lead the national team to victory in 2019 and wants to do all he can to ensure Team India continue to be Champions of Asia. He has been successful at the national and international level, helping bring the best out of the team and players. His introduction to Match Poker was in the 3rd season of MatchIPL where he took over the leadership and management of the Pune Kings, making them national champions!

  • Loveleen Singh Bachhal: Loveleen proved himself playing for the Delhi Aces in MatchIPL and was selected to represent the Indian team at the Nations Cup Finals last May. Another strong performance by him lead to his selection for the upcoming Asian Championships, which will be the second time he is playing for Team India.

The team was focused and had been studying their opponents, reviewing strategy and discussing the various nuances of the format of Match Poker to give themselves the best chance of success. Regular zoom calls and practice sessions between the team members filled them with confidence of being able to put on a strong performance in Hong Kong, even with a very skilful line up of competitors.

Team India’s jerseys were being made by Sportsqvest, with Copter7 coming on board as the kit sponsor. Each team member would receive a jersey and a jacket, personalised with their name and number at the back, and initials on the front. 

Everything was set and the team was raring to go. The only thing left was to get to Hong Kong! Usually HK has been amongst the easiest countries to travel to, with visa on arrival for Indians that required no paperwork or application. However in the last couple of years, they have introduced a pre arrival registration form which everyone must fill in online (contains very basic information) and usually upon completion and submission you receive an instant approval. A single page confirmation is provided and this is needed to board your flight to HK and at immigration to enter the country. 

When the Indian team began this process, 4 out of the 8 members had their pre arrival registration declined! This came as a huge shock and to make things worse there was no reason given for this rejection. There was no way to appeal it or re-apply either, the only option now was to try and get a regular visa for Hong Kong. Unfortunately the processing time for this is 4 weeks! Last option was for someone in Hong Kong to visit the immigration department and appeal to them to help and perhaps overturn these rejections so the individuals can re-apply and travel to Hong Kong. 

President of Match Poker India, Varun Goenka, was already in Hong Kong and went to the immigration department with President of the Match Poker eSports Federation of Hong Kong, China, Ricky Cheung, to try and resolve this extremely unfortunate issue. As it turned out, there was nothing that they could do and even an ‘expedited’ visa application would take 2-3 weeks to be processed.

This meant that we had to now replace these 4 players who would not be able to travel to Hong Kong – Jagdeep Singh, Loveleen Singh Bachhal, Aditya Agarwal and Shuchi Chamaria. After a lot of investigating and asking around, we came to the conclusion that these 4 applications were declined because of where their passports are issued from. A very experienced travel agent informed us that there is over a 50% chance of pre arrival registrations from the North and East being declined, without being given a reason as well.

After 24 hours of absolute chaos and confusion, the balance 4 team members – Harman Baweja, Abhishek Jalan, Gaurav Gala and Abhishek Goindi, managed to find players that could travel to Hong Kong and wouldn’t have any issue with their pre arrival registrations. Sanskriti Lohia Jalan filled the role of the female member of Team India, and was joined by Siddharth Kadel and Areyann Gurbaxani to make up a playing squad for the national team.

Not the situation we’d have wanted to find ourselves in, especially as we began the defence of our title of Asian Champions in Hong Kong.

Harman Baweja took on the role of captain and was determined to keep the team fighting till the very end, appreciating the circumstances and composition of the team.

The opening ceremony took place at the Hong Kong Metropolitan University, emphasising the link between education and the sport of Match Poker. Each team captain was introduced and asked a couple of questions. Harman’s brilliant interview can be seen below:

The 12 competing nations were divided into 2 groups:

Group 1 – Taiwan, Hong Kong ‘B’, Philippines, Mongolia, China, Singapore

(Kazakhstan also had some players with immigration issues and couldn’t make it at the last minute)

Group 2 – India, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korea, Vietnam


The first day of play saw each group playing 300 hands, divided as follows:

Session 1 – 50 hands

Session 2 – 50 hands

Session 3 – 100 hands

Session 4 – 100 hands


After the group stages, the top 3 teams in each group would progress to the final 6. The finals would be 100 hands to determine the new Champions and which teams qualify to the World Cup in Zurich later this year.

Team India was unfortunately not successful in defending the Asian Nations Cup, and failed to progress past the group stages.

The closing ceremony of the event was held at the iconic Olympic House in Hong Kong – a major milestone for the sport of Match Poker. Each participating player was asked to sign a big banner while news reports and camera crews took interviews and shot footage from the ceremony. 

The Indian team at the Olympic House


Chinese Taipei emerged victorious, with China in 2nd place, Israel in 3rd and Singapore in 4th. The Vietnamese team finished 5th and Korea in 6th. The individual award for Player of the Tournament went to Jack Wu from Chinese Taipei. Team Vietnam were also granted a qualification spot to Zurich and will compete with the qualified Asian, European and American national teams.

Jack Wu (left) with teammate Serina Liu (right)

In addition to the national pride, qualification to Zurich and trophy & medals on offer, there was also a prize pool of HK$ 100,000! This was distributed among the top 4 finishing teams as per:

1 – HK$ 40,000

2 – HK$ 30,000

3 – HK$ 20,000

4 – HK$ 10,000

2023 Asian Champions – Chinese Taipei

A humbling experience for the Indian team, full of learnings which we will no doubt implement in upcoming tournaments to ensure the tricolour is at the top of the podium once again.

The next Indian team will be made up of the winning team from the 5th season of the Match Indian Poker League, which is scheduled to be held in July. Daily online qualifiers will be running on PokerMatch India from Monday 13th March – register and start playing to win your way through to the national league finals and hopefully even Team India!

MatchIPL Season 5 Update

News for all Match Poker fans in India!

Announcement – MatchIPL 2023 Qualification Update 

In December 2022 PokerMatch India announced a great partnership with the Match Indian Poker League. PokerMatch India has partnered with the World’s First Professional Match Poker league, the MatchIPL thereby strengthening the Indian poker market and the poker community. The league was founded in 2017 and has already conducted four successful seasons. Over the years, more than 8.6 crores in prize money has been paid out in the league, with the winning teams representing India at the International Federation of Match Poker’s Nations Cup events.

We will do everything possible to make the game in our room comfortable and interesting for each new customer. The online poker community needs more like-minded people, so we are building the friendliest community in the industry. It is very united, and thanks to this, we have achieved a level of loyalty that is simply unachievable for many competitors. We know how to make players fall in love with poker. Therefore, we are sincerely glad to join the competition of such a scale. PokerMatch India is confident that the upcoming poker tournament, Match IPL, will be organised at a high level. The Indian poker players and teams will once again demonstrate a high level of their skills. We wish inspiration and good luck to the future champions.” comments Ruslan Bangert, CEO of PokerMatch International.

The league’s governing council and organising committee has decided to host the 5th season in July, with the winning team going on to represent Team India at the Nations Cup later this year. Therefore we will be launching a new schedule of online qualifiers starting in March, offering many more opportunities for aspiring league and national team players to win their way to the grandest stage of sports poker.

You can register for the Qualifiers as early as March 1, 2023 and all details including the exact schedule and structure will be released via the Match Poker India website and social media in the coming weeks. We thank the poker community for their interest and patience in dealing with the teething issues experienced in the early stages of the qualifiers, and are grateful for all the feedback in helping us improve the overall offering and gameplay experience. We are working hard to offer the Indian market a world class online poker platform which provides the best practices and fair competition to all players.

More information, as well as the schedule will be available on the PokerMatch India website 



30th September 2022, Mumbai – The world’s first professional Match Poker league, the Match Indian Poker League (MatchIPL), which was created in 2017 and run successfully for 4 seasons is now planning its 5th season to be held early in 2023.

The league was jointly created by the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) and Viaan Industries. The complete ownership and management of the league and all relevant IP has now been transferred over to the federation and its commercial partner West Nally Pvt Ltd. The league will continue to be sanctioned by the Indian national federation, the Match Holdem Sports Confederation, and the winning team will go on to represent the Indian national team at global Match Poker events.

The IFMP is working on its calendar of events which will include an Asian Championship in Hong Kong and the World Championship in Zurich. Team India will be defending its Asian Nations Cup title after their victory in Taiwan in 2019.

Additionally, a new event is also being introduced by IFMP based on the establishment and success of various national Match Poker leagues across its member nations. This event is being called the ‘Champions League’ and will involve the top teams from the various leagues taking place around the world.

The next season of MatchIPL will take place early in 2023 and will be competed by a minimum of 6 teams. The winning team will become the national team while the runners up will represent the Indian league at the Global Champions League event.

History of the League

Season 1 was competed by 7 teams, namely – Ahmedabad Hearts, Bangalore Royals, Delhi Aces, Goa Kings, Jaipur Jewels, Kolkata Diamonds and Mumbai All Stars.

Harman Baweja’s Mumbai All Stars emerged victorious and went on to represent Team India at the Nations Cup in Oxford where they competed against the likes of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, Italy, UK and Digital.

Prize money in season one was 2.5 cr paid as:

  • 1st place – 1.25 crores (Mumbai All Stars)
  • 2nd place – 75 lakhs (Jaipur Jewels)
  • 3rd place – 50 lakhs (Ahmedabad Hearts)

10 teams competed in season two, which was held in Kolkata after the success of the inaugural season held in Mumbai. The new teams were the Goa Lions, Haryana Hawks and UP Indians. Goa Kings from season one rebranded to become the Pune Kings from the second season.

The Haryana Hawks were crowned Champions and went to Bangkok to compete in the Asian Championship as part of the Bangkok Sports Festival recognised by GAISF and the IOC.

Prize money in season two was 1 cr paid as:

  • 1st place – 40 lakhs (Haryana Hawks)
  • 2nd place – 25 lakhs (UP Indians)
  • 3rd place – 20 lakhs (Delhi Aces)
  • 4th place – 15 lakhs (Kolkata Diamonds)

Season three saw each team run qualifiers with MTV (broadcast partner), as part of a MTV player hunt where one spot per squad was reserved for a ‘MTV Player’. 9 teams competed in this event which involved exciting Bollywood performances and recognition awards given to Harbajan Singh and R Madhavan by Shilpa Shetty.

The Pune Kings became national champions after a thrilling finish in the final session of play, leading to their participation in the 2019 Nations Cup in Dublin and Asian Championships in Taipei where India finished in first place!

Prize money in season three was 3.4 cr paid as:

  • 1st place – 1.35 crores (Pune Kings)
  • 2nd place – 90 lakhs (Mumbai All Stars)
  • 3rd place – 65 lakhs (Bangalore Royals)
  • 4th place – 50 lakhs (Delhi Aces)

The most recent edition of the league also had 9 teams competing for the title and bragging rights. Being crowned champions for the 2nd time was the Haryana Hawks, who put on a hugely impressive performance to emerge victorious. They have since competed in the 2021 Nations Cup virtual qualifiers where they topped their group and then went on to play in the 2021 Nations Cup Finals held in Gevgelija, Macedonia this May. Prize money in season four was 1.7 cr paid as: 1st place – 65 lakhs (Haryana Hawks) 2nd place – 45 lakhs (Mumbai All Stars) 3rd place – 35 lakhs (UP Indians) 4th place – 25 lakhs (Delhi Aces) Totally, 8.6 crores has been paid out in prize money over the 4 seasons of the league with every team achieving atleast one podium finish – proving the competitiveness and high skill levels of all participating teams. MTV has been the broadcast partner of the league, providing national TV coverage along with its OTT platform Voot also showcasing this new sport. Stay tuned for all relevant updates and information on the next season, how to qualify to compete in the league and even potentially represent the national team!


Match Poker is a team sport where the luck element in conventional poker via the “random draw of cards” has been removed. Far from being another poker “variation” to sit alongside Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Stud etc. it is in fact a revolutionary approach for how any of these variations can be structured into meaningful and sporting competition through a more skill based format.

Match Poker was devised by the International Federation of Match Poker to reduce the element of luck inherent in traditional forms of poker, ensuring that it is a contest based on players’ skill and conforms to the accepted definition of a sport.

The International Federation of Match Poker holds Observer Status of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), is a signatory to the WADA Code and has over 65 members federations worldwide. It is on the ladder to Olympic recognition and is currently the world’s only recognised digital sport.

Match Poker was created as a team-based mind sport where the element of chance inherent in the ‘random draw of cards’ has been removed. As a result, it conforms to the widely accepted GAISF definition of a sport as “not relying on any element of luck specifically integrated into the sport.” IFMP has successfully developed the Match Poker technology including innovative use of smartphones in gameplay and administration, making Match Poker a true 21st century mind sport and an e-Sport.

  • Match Poker is a team sport incorporating regular Texas Hold’em, albeit typically with a pot-limit pre-flop and no-limit post-flop structure.
  • Teams are split onto different tables with one player from each team in each of the different seat positions.
  • All players start each hand with an equal number of chips and receive their cards on a digital device.
  • The same cards are dealt at all tables (hole cards and community cards). This means that every player in seat 1 (each from a different team) has identical cards. The same is true every other seat. This allows the best players and the best teams to be identified.
  • Each team’s combined chips are compared after every hand and points allocated accordingly. Players reset their stacks and the next hand begins.
  • After a pre-determined number of hands the team with the most points wins. All action is recorded electronically enabling real-time automated scoring, animated replay and detailed analysis.

An individual gameplay offering called Match Poker Online has also been developed and launched a few months ago. It is available to download in both the Google play store and the App store. This offering allows an individual to simply sign up and start playing Match Poker, generating and improving their official ranking based on their performances. Available here –

Further information from:

Varun Goenka (

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