Finding the way around the house of cards
A low probability of winning does not seem to dissuade thousands from playing rummy online and occasionally, spending fortunes in the process
‘Win Lakhs in Real Cash’, ‘100 % Legal Join Now & Get Free ₹2,000 Bonus’, ‘Play Indian Rummy and Win Cash Prizes at Rummy Millionaire!’ ‘Claim ₹1,000 Rummy Bonus and take a shot at winning millions of real money - Play Now’! Lucrative taglines such as these are luring thousands across Tamil Nadu to play the popular card game online. Pop-up screens with such messages often appear when you try to log on to any e-commerce platform or while playing games on your mobile phone. Estimates indicate that over one lakh people from Tamil Nadu play rummy online every month.
RummyCircle, one of the largest rummy portals, said that in Tamil Nadu, over 15,000 unique players log in daily to play various versions of the game, such as pool rummy, points rummy and deals rummy. Another online gaming portal, which wished anonymity, said that in July 2017, it had more than 4 lakh game sessions approximately and of these 6% could be marked as originating from Tamil Nadu, with slightly more than 5 % originated from Chennai. “Chennai accounts for nearly 85 % of our traffic from Tamil Nadu,” the spokesperson of this firm said.
“I don’t want to come on record because people still have a misconception that this is gambling. This is a skillbased game,” said the chief operating officer of a gaming firm, whose main revenues come from rummy. This firm has nearly 8,000 players from Tamil Nadu.
“In my view, it is a very healthy and invigorating pastime and hones one’s soft skills like memory and retention, attention to detail and ability to take decisions based on incomplete information,” the marketing officer of a Mumbai-based rummy firm said.
While doing this story, The
Hindu spoke to nine rummy players in Chennai to find out how the game is played online, the amount invested and the probability of winning. One player, Amar (name changed), said, “I have been playing for over five months and the probability of winning is very low. Of the 20 games (average) I play every week, I win one. I usually spend ₹1,000 a week and there are offers each week too,” he added.
Another rummy player, S. Ram, explained that after each round, the winner gets the money from the other players on the table. The money comes into the account of the player after the company deducts a service charge for the game. “When you first register, the portal asks for you bank details and PAN details,” he said. His friend, Akshay, who has never won a single game till date, said, “I log on to play during the weekends. Once you win, you feel like winning more and once you’re out, you feel like trying till you succeed.” He added, “People spend thousands at gaming zones. So what’s wrong in betting on rummy?”
‘Players are aware’
When asked whether this could be a ponzi scheme, an analyst said the player is wellaware of what he is doing. The websites of companies have disclaimers that state they are not responsible for losses incurred. It also has clauses and details explaining that players should not be involved in money laundering, spamming or log in from multiple IDs.
At RummyCircle, no one controls the game. There is an internationally certified random generator that randomly distributes cards among players. Another rummy firm said its software is merely a facilitator. “The software performs the shuffling of cards and deals hands to all players, maintaining the game state, validating the winning hand, computing the scores of the losing hands and settling the winnings and losses,” a spokesperson said.