There was silence in the room except for the sound of the dealer staking chips on the table, and suddenly “all in” echoed in the room. This all in could be worth one semester’s books but no one cared. This is the scenario that prevails in many colleges in India.

Samantha Bee once said that “The Best part about poker is that there is no downside”. This statement seems literal in the online poker scene in India. Let it be parties or weddings, poker has played a momentous role in the card playing custom. This poker culture has sparked interest in playing real money poker online. Students of various colleges or universities have not only used this game as an online gaming space but also as a medium to earn money.

Blind man’s bluff, one card poker, match pot betting and other variations which were conventionally played in college hostels, are now replaced by online Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. A teenager, Jake Cody decided to drop out from college in Edinburgh to spend his life playing poker even when his mother disagreed with his decision. But he played his cards right and has now earned more than £1.8 million playing the game.

So is the case of Pavan Jain, a 23 year old college dropout who is determined on playing poker full-time. Pavan is a native of Chennai and has won the India Poker Championship in Goa in 2015, raking in Rs 2.75 lakhs for the win.

Poker is a beautiful game, but is difficult to master. In order to be good at it, you need to manage risks and involve math, psychology and reasoning. Students believe that there are a lot of great skills that poker teaches them that help them in their personal and professional life. Jobs in finance, to name one.

Unlike casino games like Blackjack that are skewed in the favour of the house, poker is a game where players face each other. This further reiterates poker as a game of skill. At the end of the day, though, poker, that used to be played by students in the shady back rooms at night, has now shifted from being a hobby to a full-fledged channel of earning money for many in the country.