Sunday, August 07, 2005

Check out this Funny Video

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel like taking your frustrations out on somebody. Recently I have had numerous days when I’m playing poker at partypoker and I get rivered by a meathead who should be out of the hand and just keeps on chasing and I eventually lose I’d like to do this to the guy that just rivered me (maybe not, but this is pretty funny stuff).

Video is called Kid Hits another Kid with Shovel

Here's a pretty interesting article for you to read courtesy of The Poker Web on the owners of party gaming which runs the biggest online poker room going today; Partypoker.

America's Poker Passion Creates Newest Desi Billionaires

Move over, Vinod Khosla (founder of Sun Microsystems) and Sabeer Bhatia (founder of hotmail).

Its time to meet the newest technology billionaires - Anurag Dikshit and his college pal Vikrant Bhargava -- who got there by 'helping people find ways to lose money.'

Dikshit is also the only Indian to be inducted into Red Herring magazine's top 20 technology entrepreneurs of 2005.

Dukshit and Bhargava are the Indian duo behind PartyGaming, an online poker/gambling company based in Gibraltar that went public in London with a valuation estimated at around $10 billion. Thus making them the first-known online gaming billionaires.

Known as The Gibraltar Gang of Four, they are estimated to be worth as follows: Anurag Dikshit (net worth: $3.4 billion), Vikrant Bhargava (net worth: $1 billion). And the two other founders of the company Ruth Parasol (net worth: $1.8 billion), Russell DeLeon (net worth: $1.8 billion).

Recent reports in the press note that 'billionaire status has rarely been achieved so young or so quickly.'

Bhargava hints at the way in which the ride has left them breathless. "When we left university in 1994 - and you have to remember that the Indian Institute of Technology was one of the best schools in all of India - quite a lot of people went off to the US and got involved with dotcoms," he says. "So many people wanted to do something big, but I don't think we ever thought it would be this big. But the motivation was not money. We have done well at something we enjoy doing."

According to one report, PartyGaming's pretax profit has gone from about $6-million (U.S.) three years ago to more than $370-million last year, and in the first quarter this year it made $128-million, or $1.4-million a day.

Parasol founded the precursor company in 1997 after reportedly running porn sites. She brought on Dikshit to develop proprietary software in 1998. Parasol and her husband DeLeon now consult, while Dikshit runs the group and Bhargava oversees marketing.

Bhargava, aged 32, and originally from Rajasthan, pursued a career in banking before joining the poker party in 2000, having been asked to come on board as marketing director of PartyGaming by his old college friend, Anurag Dikshit. Bhargava, an MBA from IIM (Kolkata) is a whizkid behind the raging success of PartyGaming. Bhargava's experience prior to joining the Group included positions as a credit officer at the Bank of America, where he was responsible for managing credit exposure and revenue for a portfolio of corporate clients, and a business analyst at British Gas in the business development division. Married with two children, he is the only shareholder in the company to be seen in public and is a regular face in the crowd at PartyGaming's live poker tournaments.

A recent article in The Guardian described Mr. Bhargava as a "shy, modest workaholic." The PartyGaming executive, who owns a 15-per-cent stake in the company, told the British newspaper: "I don't think we ever thought it would be this big. But the motivation was not money. We have done well at something we enjoy doing."

Very little is known about Anurag Dikshit, the 33-year-old computer whizzkid who created the technology behind online poker. He is a graduate of IIT Delhi, and has worked as a software developer in the US for various companies such as CMC, Websci and later as a consultant for AT&T before he hooked up with Ruth Parasol in 1998. He owns 40 per cent of the company.

Dikshit developed an innovative platform to facilitate gamblers playing against other online gamblers at individual tables or in large tournaments. The company launched the service in 2001, just as poker enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity in America. As television programs, new books and celebrities got involved with poker, online poker sky-rocketed in popularity. So much so that Dikshit's platform which allowed 20,000 simultaneous users was inadequate and new technology was adopted allowing 70,000 simultaneous users.

The appeal of Dikshit's offering was that poker players could play at any time from anywhere without having to organise a social group to play. Total revenues for online poker from all providers was already a healthy US$92 million in 2002, but it then exploded, surpassing US$1 billion two years later, according to Christiansen Capital Advisors, experts on the online gaming industry. Dikshit's company shrewdly hired a well-known poker player named Mike Sexton as a marketing consultant, and with his help it developed the " Million" tournament which was televised throughout the United States and Europe.

Dikshit is not very well known beyond the secretive online gambling industry, which is considered a criminal enterprise in the United States. He is believed to be married to a doctor, to have one child and lives in Gibraltar. He is a vegetarian, does not gamble, wears braces to hold his trousers and has a moustache. He is said to "smile a lot when he talks."

A colleague says that Dikshit's head has not been turned by the company's financial success. "For someone so key to a company that is making the amount of money PartyGaming is making he is very self-deprecating. For Anurag, it's a systems challenge. How do you write software that can handle so many players and how do you deliver the product to customers?"

Dikshit keeps a low profile. Colleagues are unwilling to talk about his home town in India, for fear of identifying his family and jeopardising their security.

But at work, he does not hold back. "He has an unerring habit of asking the best questions of all the founders," says the colleague. "There's also a core of 20 to 30 people in senior management that he recruited and who are clearly extremely loyal to him. He's also not ostentatious. I don't know what he would do with the money if he were to cash out but I'm sure you wouldn't see him buying a palace on an island and a big yacht. He's just not like that."

There is one big caveat to this tale of good fortune. The legality of internet gambling in the US is a point on which the operators and the US department of justice cannot agree. So before Bhargava, Dikshit and their colleagues can turn any part of their theoretical fortunes into cash, the investment community has to be convinced that the business is not vulnerable to being closed down overnight in the US, its biggest market.

Observers say the signs are good. Sportingbet, a quoted British company, paid £169m last year for one of PartyGaming's rivals, Paradise Poker, and has seen its share price surge 150% since then, as investors wake up to the global online poker revolution.

Bhargava says more than 70,000 people play on Party Poker simultaneously at peak hours; two years ago, the figure was fewer than 2,000. Party Poker makes its money by taking a small slice from each pot - the rake, in the jargon.

Describing the way the game is played in cyberspace, a company spokesman said: “Party Poker is a website and 10 people can gather round a virtual table. Party Poker makes its money by taking a small slice from each pot - the rake, in the jargon."

One of the ironies of PartyGaming is that due to government rules, Indians in India are not allowed to play even though ninety per cent of its employees, totalling about 1,000, are based in Hyderabad.

For tax reasons, Dikshit and Bhargava live in Gibraltar where, according to one report, 'the weather is pleasantly Mediterranean but there cannot be too many distractions on which to squander their easily acquired fortunes.'

The two Indians keep a relatively low profile. The best that the Financial Times could muster up in a recent profile is the revelation that Dikshit 'always smiles a lot when he talks'.

Company executives include Nitin Jain [CIO - PEC, Chandigarh & IIM Kolkata] and Manish Grover [Director Customer Services, IIT Delhi, IIM Kolkata].

Due to concerns about the legality of online gambling in the United States, the company is incorporated in Gibraltar and has no assets in the United States. Nonetheless, U.S. consumers provide around 90% of PartyGaming's revenues.

Globally, about $200m has been wagered in tournaments over the past 24 hours alone, according to the online poker monitoring service,

Gamblers Anonymous, the gambling counselling service, said it had seen a dramatic rise in the number of calls it receives from people blaming the internet for their addiction.

"Gambling on the internet is like pornography on the internet. Clicking a screen on a computer is much easier for many people than going in to a sex shop and buying the goods face to face. People who are too scared or embarrassed to go in to a betting shop will bet online, and they can also bet unnoticed," said a Gambling Anonymous spokesman.

"As well as removing some of the social constraints around gambling, the internet also removes the physical constraints of having to hand over your cash to gamble. You don't have to keep going to the cash machine. It all happens electronically, which means you keep gambling without it seeming like a real loss. It gives you no time to think and consider your actions."

Celebrities such as Ben Affleck, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matt Damon and Tobey Maguire are all regulars at televised poker matches, and have also helped give the game a cult appeal. And so big is the potential for companies to make millions from the business that there is now a rush of other online gambling companies listing in the stock market.

To their credit, the founders are recognising the efforts of their employees to a degree many other billionaires might not. Some 5.6% of PartyGaming, worth $560m or about £300m at the top end of the flotation price range, will be gifted to an employee trust. All staff, from call centre staff in Hyderabad to London techies, will get the chance to earn two or three times their salary in free share options over the next four years.

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