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Interview: “Poker Platforms need to focus on solving the Recreational Paradox,” Says Tessy Jose, Co-founder of PokerNXT

Speaking with the TechGraph on ‘How online card game looks like in Indian market’, Tessy Jose, Co-Founder of PokerNXT said, “We believe that the trend should be for Poker Platforms to focus on solving the Recreational Paradox.”

Read the complete transcript here:

TechGraph: Before we start the interview, can you please let our readers know more about PokerNXT?

Tessy Jose: PokerNXT is a bespoke online real money poker platform designed and developed with great care and attention to create an Enhanced, Unprecedented & Recreational-friendly Experience through gamified engagement in a market that is skewed towards servicing and supporting only Pro and semi-Pro players. 

With a focus on three poker formats currently, No-limit Texas Holdem, Pot-limit Omaha (4 cards), and Pot-limit Omaha (5 cards), we have something to offer to not just the heavyweights in the ecosystem, but also to all those who are exploring the game for the very first time and can feel his/her groove on Flop, Turn & River.

We enable this through unmatched UI above par current offering through clarity and simplicity of visual hierarchy of designs and robust technology concentrating on gameplay user experience,  game ambiance, FTUE (First Time Use Experience) onboarding modules and UX encouraging usage, in addition to  User-focused Single hand  UI with portrait view to support comfort and ease of playing, Responsible gaming features & Tilt loss protection to name a few. 

TechGraph: What was the story behind PokerNXT? How did it all get started?

Tessy Jose: PokerNXT is a dream of me & my fellow cofounders, to offer best-in-class value and services to Indian Poker Players – our Eureka moment, this is where it all started for us. A brainchild of a like-minded but vividly diverse troop of astute Professional Poker Players & visionary Entrepreneurs with affirmed experience backed by a passionate and diligent technology development team, our offerings and ethos back our target and aspiration which sprouted from the decade long reverie.  

We wanted to offer the Indian gamers the chance to appreciate & savor Poker as a lifestyle, with not just the pleasure of monetizing their smarts but also gaining a quantitative and qualitative value for the time spent with us on PokerNXT.

The gaming market stands at a cliff-hanger with doors wide open for a disruptive proposition – there is room for an industry leader to take roots now in this effervescent industry. PokerNXT and its team come together as a gestalt to this opportunity – an organized whole that is more than the sum of its parts. Now more than ever, we are ready to take the plunge and grab the bull by its horns!

TechGraph: How do you feel ‘PokerNXT’ stands out from other big players like Rummy Circle, Zynga Poker, Teen Patti, and others who are already in this business?

Tessy Jose: As a team composed of industry and gaming domain experts, we observed a red ocean market offering, catering only to professional grinders, ignoring recreational gamers constituting the bulk of the Indian gaming market. We call it “the recreational paradox”. 

The proportionality of recreational gamers’ contribution to the gaming ecosystem in comparison to the benefits reaped is skewed in favor of the professionals, be it in terms of ease of usage, skill development, or capacity to win the rewards on offer. Furthermore, pro players see and chase games with more action, which are found only with a healthy mix of recreational players as opposed to tight games with pros all around. 

Having deciphered this market situation, we built skeletons of our business around a blue ocean strategy focussed on mammoth unserviced recreational volumes by designing and modeling our retention drivers and rewards frameworks to be not just achievable only by pro players. 

This also enables us to deepen the market with an environment that encourages (instead of intimidating a new gamer) to spend more productive time while he/she is gaming.

Following a doctrine of marginal gains, we aim to execute a sustainable gaming ecosystem with these tenets whereby we will bring about significant improvements in the average time spent in real money gaming. 

TechGraph: Could you please walk us through the key features offered by PokerNXT?

Tessy Jose: Our strength comes from our agility in product development and the robust strength that allowed us to customize the vanilla poker platform to a product that will delight a regular just as much as a newbie. 

We want to be part of your adventure, their story … your enterprising exploits on the table. With in-house technology development offering us flexibility on product features, as a team, we strive to bring a top-notch User experience (UX) and User Interface (UI ) dedicated to you, our players  – encompassing and carefully curating what you need, what you value and addressing you pain points. 

And that ain’t an empty claim –  with our collective professional gaming experience and players’ voices, which we gathered before we started our product development, we wake up every day with one single mission – to bring you a product that stands class apart in every aspect of the gameplay and its supporting engagements. 

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For the Pro in you, we call upon you to experience the best value for rake back. And if that wasn’t enough, our HUD (Heads Up Display) will leave you gaga on the ease at which you can read your statistics and break down your gameplay. For the recreational player in you, we plan and simply offer you a better value for your time deployed with all the support and nudges you need to explore the Poker horizon and who knows, perhaps even become a Pro!

TechGraph: What according to you is the scope of an online card game business like this in the Indian market?

Tessy Jose: We believe that Poker is not a game of cards but a game of people. Information, be it complete or incomplete, along with its timely  & accurate usage to execute various degrees of leverage and decisions are the key flavor of the game. 

Often referred to as one of the few games where your decisions have a direct influence upon your chances of winning or losing, your unbiased information gathering and subsequent processing of this information to decide with the best value is what separates it to be a game of skill. 

With the recognition of Poker as a Game of Skill by the enactment of the Nagaland Online Gaming Act 2016, poker has become a mainstream sport in the Indian markets. 

With progressive views paving way for regulating the online real money gaming industry in the country, the Online poker and other card game businesses are spreading their reach and familiarity beyond major centers like Mumbai, Bangalore, NCR, and Kolkata,  spreading across the length and breadth of our country. Expansion seems a natural course, as long as one offers value to players, through secure money management, fair play, responsible gaming, and an opportunity for an enthusiast to understand the game and give it a go.

TechGraph: What is your goal in terms of the customer base? What will be the average time that you are aiming to be spent by gamers on PokerNXT?

Tessy Jose: Our approach is not to design discounts and offers to improve stickiness. Our solution is to understand customer behavior well and aim to address the recreational paradox by servicing the hyper-casual recreation gamers, thereby deepening the market itself. 

Poker calls upon your cognitive and emotional intelligence- which are basic requirements of a wide range of professions.  Be it as practical tutoring on how to use Game theory in your next marketing strategy or leveraging an arbitrage over a trade, Poker offers pearls of wisdom unparalleled by anything else out there! We would even venture to say Poker games can serve as your finishing school to life (and the adulting it calls for !!)  and its myriad nuances. 

Don’t get us wrong, Poker is not the solution-to-everything, fix-it-all magic wand, but it’s a strong weapon to be walking out in the world with an edge, that little distinguishing advantage in the melee of people. 

We think that for a country of 1.35 billion people that are used to playing strategy based card games, poker with a current reach of 2 million subscribers, has still not reached its true potential and it will only happen through solving the recreational paradox.

TechGraph: What kind of growth or fall has online gaming registered during the pandemic? 

Tessy Jose: The growth of online poker has been significant during the lockdown phase, but it peaked in the initial month and then plateaued to a level higher than before the lockdown, which itself has been a substantially high growth rate.

TechGraph: You have recently raised seed funding from marquee investors, how did this happen? Are you planning to raise more money in the coming days?

Tessy Jose: The company is currently valued at USD 4.1 Million as of date with broad-based Investor participation from Singapore, Europe, and UAE, and has a planned and thought-after product roadmap to launch PokerNXT in India, and then for favorable geographies globally. 

We are also looking for other products in the gaming space that are currently under development following the PokerNXT launch. This expansion phase will see the next sets of fundraising.

TechGraph: What is the roadmap for PokerNXT going forward?

Tessy Jose: We have categorized our roadmap into Short term and Long term.

●    Short Term: Market validation of the product and utilize user feedback to refine and improve the proposition

●    Long Term: Deepen the market for games – To take gaming to the masses, on the strength of robust technological offering and right value proposition to promote engagement. 

Solve the Recreational Paradox by motivating recreational gamers to accept the platform and evolve their paradigm.

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