India has over 1.2 billion crazy cricket fans as the game is by far the most popular sport followed across the country. Former Indian captain MS Dhoni continues to have a cult like status in the country even though he hasn’t played international cricket for a close to a year.
MS Dhoni has over 22 million fans on Instagram and his wife Sakshi has over 3.5 million fans. MSD as he is popularly referred to is one of the highest paid brand ambassadors in the country.
He has now been roped in by PokerStars India to be their latest ambassador.
Ankur Dewani, CEO of Sachiko Gaming, PokerStars’ licensing partner, said the signing of MS Dhoni coincides with their goal of creating partnerships that will resonate to Indian audiences.
MS Dhoni is the former captain of India’s national cricket team, and led India to multiple international victories, including the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, Asia Cup 2010 and 2016, and the 2011 Cricket World Cup. In 2013, he captained the Indian team to claim the ICC Champions trophy, beating England. He is considered one of the best captains in modern international cricket and arguably the best captain to have ever captained India.
The 38-year-old started establishing a link with the online gaming industry when he also served as ambassador for India-based fantasy sports platform Dream11.
PokerStars Will Leverage Dhoni’s Cult Following
PokerStars India wants to leverage MS Dhoni’s achievements and popularity to improve the brand’s standing in the Indian online poker market. Unlike the many other PokerStars sites around the globe, PokerStars India is lagging behind its major competitors, sitting just fourth in the country when it comes to player traffic.
Since entering the Indian poker market in 2018, the company has continued to step up its efforts to draw more players. Late last year, the brand served as a sponsor for Big Boss, India’s equivalent of the reality TV show Big Brother. It also partnered with the Global Poker League (GPL) India, and became a sponsor for the league’s first season.
MS Dhoni joins PokerStars India’s roster of ambassadors, which include Indian actor Nawazzuddin Siddiqui, who represents the brand in social media and television, as well as Indian poker players Muskan Sethi and Sharad Rao, who became the company’s first dedicated Twitch live streamer.
India is currently among the world’s largest growth markets for online poker, with the top sites, such as Adda52, Spartan Poker, and PokerBaazi reporting an increasing number of registered players.