Professor Deepak Dhayanithy, strategic faculty member of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Kozhikode, who devised an optional course called ‘Competitive Strategy: The game of poker’ (CSP), recently spoke on completion of six years of the first and only course on poker in a premier Indian educational institute.

Dhayanithy notes, “I feel satisfied when I teach this course. Managers are professional decision-makers and poker is a great mental sport to teach them the skills of decision-making. I am happy to bring the two together.

Poker is a great way to teach probabilistic decision-making. It may be new in India, but courses on poker strategies have been being offered in Harvard, MIT and other universities across the USA. And these courses teach approaches that are relevant in a variety of business settings, ranging from stock markets to vendor negotiations to capital investment decisions under uncertainty – and even extend to normal real-life decision making.”

Being a poker player himself, the IIM professor is very pleased that the course has proven popular and effective. Before every class, he plays a tournament and spends time studying about poker strategies, so that he can teach the class. 

Talking about the elective course, Dhayanithy says, “From about 60 students in its first year of inception, CSP is now sought by over 200 students. An almost equal batch proportion of boys and girls opt for the elective in their 2nd year. Most girls in the class are as competitive as the boys,”

For the budding poker industry in the country, he says the best way to protect the game and help in destigmatizing the name is to promote brand ambassadors – poker players who carve successful careers for themselves. Further, they are well-spoken, free-thinking, intelligent and hard-working – characteristics that would resonate with the larger audience.