Anurag Dikshit: Party Gaming Software Developer
Anurag Dikshit was one of PartyGaming's first employees, being hired on as the company's software developer. Thanks to Dikshit's hard work and dedication, he was able to develop appealing software for the launch of PartyGaming's most successful casino: PartyPoker. His skills and creativity made PartyGaming one of the top companies in their market.
To discover more about Dikshit, his childhood, his role in the advancement of PartyGaming, and the events that led to his early retirement, please continue reading this thorough biography. We end this bio by giving you details on what he is up to now.
Anurag Dikshit was born on February 17, 1973, in Dhanbad, India, to his parents, Manish and Amala, who were both sugarcane farmers. Since Dikshit was the eldest of 6 children, he was expected to take over the family farm upon finishing high school. Dikshit didn't want to do that, however, as it was his dream to go to college. He hoped that if he worked hard in school, he might be able to earn a full-ride scholarship. He spent most evenings and weekends studying, trying his best to earn good grades. Despite his efforts, he wasn't offered any full-ride scholarships upon graduating.
Since his family didn't have enough money to afford his college tuition, Dikshit was forced to get a job out of high school so that he could save up some money. He worked as a bartender at a local restaurant, often working double shifts to earn more money faster. After about two years, he had earned enough to afford his first year of college; he took out loans to pay for the rest of his schooling. He enrolled in Indian Institute of Technology, where he double-majored in computer science and engineering.
It was during his time in college that he first developed an interest in poker. He would often spend his evenings playing Texas Hold'em and No Limit Omaha with a group of guys from his residential hall. Dikshit wasn't a very skilled poker player, but he always enjoyed himself. After college, he spent the next few years of his life doing paid internships at a variety of companies, including AT&T, CMC, and Websci. At AT&T, he was a consultant; at CMC, he was a systems analyst; and at Websci, he was a software developer. His goal was to gain as much experience in the business world as possible.
Joining the PartyGaming Team
In 1999, he visited a Las Vegas casino for the first time. He was captivated by the bright lights and the exhilarating atmosphere. While in Las Vegas, he got connected with a woman named Ruth Parasol, who was trying her luck out at a nearby slot machine. She had recently started a company called PartyGaming and was looking for a software developer so that she could launch more online casinos. Dikshit's love of poker, educational background, and work experience made him the perfect fit for the job. As an incentive for taking the job, Parasol offered him an ownership stake in the company, which he eagerly accepted at age 25.
In 2001, they launched PartyPoker, which was one of the first online casinos to be exclusively dedicated to the game of poker. Dikshit worked 70-hour work weeks for nearly a year straight in order to make his software better than his competitors'. Thanks to his efforts, PartyPoker's software was both easy to use and very responsive. The site quickly attracted players from all over the world, causing the company to grow at a rapid rate. The following year, they launched PartyCasino, a site that offers both slot games and table games.
It wasn't long before Dikshit's workload was too much for him to handle on his own. He got permission to hire his friend, Vikrant Bhargava, to help him out. Dikshit and Bhargava were a great team who made sure PartyGaming always had the most up-to-date software as possible. They were constantly bouncing ideas off one another, discovering ways to make the software more user-friendly. Their biggest accomplishment was being able to create a multiplayer poker platform, which would allow up to 70,000 players to be able to compete in the same tournament at the same time.
Dikshit's contributions to PartyGaming are not just limited to software development, as he was also responsible for many of the company's marketing strategies. It was his idea to ask Mike Sexton to become the company's spokesperson, which attracted a lot of people to their site. It was also his idea to host the PartyPoker.com Million tournament. This event took place on a cruise ship and was broadcasted on the Game Show Network. People were drawn to this event because the winner of the tournament would receive a $1 million cash prize, making it one of the most lucrative tournaments available.
As the years went on, Dikshit became a valuable asset to PartyGaming. Just under Parasol, he was the company's second-largest shareholder. As the company continued to expand, so did Dikshit's personal wealth. By the year 2005, he had reached billionaire status. While he had no plans of retiring at that time, the events to come the following year would drastically change his mind.
An Early Retirement
In 2006, PartyGaming faced difficulties that were out of their control. The United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which made it illegal for online casinos to accept US customers. PartyGaming was forced to tell all of their US customers that they could no longer serve them; this resulted in a 75% decrease to their yearly revenue. Their stock also dropped nearly 60% overnight.
Dikshit was devastated when he heard about this new law and made a rash decision to step down from his position at the company. This was a good choice, as he was also facing charges from the Department of Justice for being in violation of the Wire Act. He pled guilty to those charges and was forced to pay a hefty $300 million fee. He released this statement in regard to his actions: "I came to believe there was a high probability that the company's business was illegal under US laws. I acknowledge my actions and have come to believe that what I did was wrong."
While Dikshit was undergoing trial, he still attended PartyGaming's board meetings so that he could have some say in how they spent their money. As the years went on, his involvement in the company continued to decrease. In 2010, he sold his remaining shares and completely left the online gambling scene. Although he was only 37 at the time, he had enough money to afford a cushy retirement.
Dikshit was excited about his early retirement because it allowed him to spend more time with his wife, Dr. Soma Pujari, and their two children: Hiran and Prema. They currently live in a 10-bedroom mansion in London, England. The family spends the summer traveling the world, having visited Greece, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, and a wide variety of other countries.
The Kusuma Trust
Dikshit and his wife established the Kusuma Trust foundation in 2007. On their website, they posted their mission statement, "We are a philanthropic organization working in India, the UK and Gibraltar to transform the lives of young people through education." Through this trust, they give out grants to different schools who need money for educational resources such as updated technology and sporting equipment.
One of their most recent projects involved funding the construction of a mid-day meal kitchen and feeding program for the students in Odisha. The kitchen they developed provides meals for over 190 schools and is able to serve around 100,000 students. Before the kitchen was established, students were forced to bring their lunches from home. Any students whose families could not afford their lunches would have to go through the entire school day without food.
Another project that stands out was the establishment of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) classes in various schools across the United Kingdom. Their foundation paid for teachers to get the proper training and equipment they needed in order to properly teach these classes to their students. They teamed up with the universities of Nottingham and York so that students would receive college credit for completing these courses, putting them one step closer to a higher education.
Dikshit is a highly-skilled software developer who was able to use his area of expertise to make PartyGaming's casinos the most advanced casinos on the web. As a result of his innovativeness, PartyGaming quickly became a multibillion-dollar company, serving millions of players from all over the world. Unfortunately, a run-in with the US DOJ caused Dikshit to step down from his position at the company and face an early retirement.
Dikshit now has more time to spend with his family and give back to those less fortunate than himself. He currently has no plans to come out of retirement, but we will be sure to update his biography if he changes his mind.