Come Diwali, Muhammed Yusuf (name changed to protect identity) barely has time to eat or sleep. Jetsetting across the country, he is much in demand at the gambling tables. For a few days at least, he is constantly in the company of the city’s rich and famous.
Yusuf is one of the rare breed of hired hands who can change the fortunes of his sponsors. For a hefty fee for sure.
“Crores change hands, fortunes are made and lost. We are hired to play and win in the game of cards…Our sponsors give us expensive clothing and book rooms in five-star hotels,” said 55year-old Yusuf sitting in his Cossipore shanty.
“There are only around five of us in Kolkata. Every season we are hired to play. We even fly down to Mumbai, Delhi and even Kathmandu,” Yusuf added.
Having hired hands to play for you is a relatively new trend among gamblers. The sponsor puts in the money and if the hired hand wins, the profits are shared. “But if we lose, the losses are solely borne by the sponsor,” Yusuf said.
So, what’s the secret of his success?
“Like a magician, we know how to manipulate cards,” Yusuf said, letting out a trade secret. He says, he learnt his tricks from a famous magician of the city, someone he is unwilling to name.