Women Forge New Paths in Poker via Adda52 and WPT in India

By Jennifer Newell Adda52 is the largest online poker brand in India, a market leader in a country with more than 1.3 billion people and a poker community in the midst of a boom. The World Poker Tour first partnered with Adda52 nearly three years ago – in April 2016 – and expanded on that…

Matt Clark
Mar 22, 2019

By Jennifer Newell

Adda52 is the largest online poker brand in India, a market leader in a country with more than 1.3 billion people and a poker community in the midst of a boom.

The World Poker Tour first partnered with Adda52 nearly three years ago – in April 2016 – and expanded on that relationship a year later with a WPT India event and WPT India Player of the Year competition. And for each of the past two summers, Adda52’s sponsored players have traveled to Las Vegas to play in the Zynga Poker WPT500 tournament at ARIA.

Interestingly, a look at the Adda52 sponsored pros reveals five names. The very first and most well-known of the pros is Nikita Luther, a woman with several live poker victories under her belt and the first woman from India to win a WSOP bracelet. Three men follow Nikita on the list – Kunal Patni, Amit Jain, and Tarun Goyal – before the celebrity pro completes the group. And that celebrity is acclaimed Indian actress Minissha Lamba (pictured), a longtime poker hobbyist.


Names to Know: Nikita and Minissha

To follow the global expansion of poker is to be familiar with Nikita Luther. The New Delhi resident is 17th on India’s all-time tournament winnings list with more than $218,000 to her credit thus far.


Nikita’s tournament successes date back to 2015, with wins at the Macau Poker Cup and India Poker Championship and several final tables at Deltin Poker Tournament events. When she traveled to Las Vegas in 2017 to play her first WPT500 (and first tournament ever in the United States), she made the final table and finished fifth, and she returned to Las Vegas again in 2018, that time winning the WSOP Tag Team event. Most recently, she took down a Deltin Poker event in Goa, at which she survived the field of 187 players, ousted three of her final table opponents, captured the trophy.

Minissha Lamba of Mumbai is a model and actress. Also a university graduate with honors and a writer inspired by global journalism, Minissha followed her talents into acting and is now known for her leading roles in acclaimed Indian films.


Minissha has been a fan and casual poker player for nearly a decade and occasionally played tournaments, such as an Indian Poker Championship event in 2011 that she final tabled. However, high-stakes cash games were her preferred setting. But in September 2017, she played the Ladies Event at the Dentin Poker Tournament series and won, beating Nikita heads-up for the trophy.

Adda52 signed Minissha as a brand ambassador one month later. But she is far from a celebrity player and likes to be considered a semi-pro.

Nikita and Minissha have been outspoken about poker as a game of skill. Their interviews with poker and mainstream media focus on the skill and study required to play the game well. And both are working hard to push for India to categorize poker as a sport, at the very least a mind sport like chess.


Poker: A Gender-Neutral Sport

Nikita once said, “Poker is a gender-neutral sport.” This is true.

She also said, “Poker is an intellectual game which is played by applying various concepts of math, probability, game theory, psychology, and so on.” This is also true.


Speaking to Minissha this week, she noted that the tournament fields in India are about two to three percent women. This is not much different than the ones in the United States. Rarely is there a tournament comprised of more than five to six percent women.

Minissha notes that more women are entering the games. “A lot of the new female players get introduced to the game through their husbands, who end up being passionate players.” She also added that many women tend to know of poker only as a form of gambling. “The moment that notion is done away with, more women open their minds to playing the game, just as they would learn chess or bridge.”

Poker has historically been a man’s game, especially in the public eye. So, when Adda52 and the World Poker Tour put women in front of the game, showing their proficiency and tenacity, their skills and fearlessness, it tells the public that the game no longer needs to be one dominated by men.

The gender-neutrality of poker can become a reality.

For now, Minissha said that most of the women she knows play recreationally. This aligns with the data that shows about 25% of the people playing online free-play Zynga Poker are women, a significant number as compared to the percentage of women in live cash games and tournaments.

Women can learn from players like Minissha and Nikita that poker can be a profitable game, a mind sport that can take the place of house-edged games in casinos. The more women who are at the tables shown on television and online, the easier it will be to convince women that poker need not be a male-dominated game any longer.

Meet Them in Las Vegas

Minissha and Nikita are both scheduled to travel to Las Vegas again this summer to play the Zynga Poker WPT500 Las Vegas event at ARIA. The tournament is a huge part of the 2019 ARIA Poker Classic, and it offers a $570 buy-in, though numerous satellites will award seats at a much-discounted price.

The action begins on June 21 and will open eight starting flights through June 25, half of them with turbo structures. Day 2 will then bring the surviving players back to the tables on June 26, and the final table will play out on June 27.