Author Archives: jnewell
The idea that cryptocurrencies could expand the online poker market is nothing new. Gaming operators have been working with cryptocurrencies to varying degrees for several years. Sites like SwC Poker, originally Seals with Clubs, operated solely on Bitcoin since it opened in 2011, but most other poker operators took a slower approach to integrating cryptocurrencies into their payment processing systems. A number of sites now include Bitcoin in their list of options for online poker deposits and withdrawals, while some have expanded to include Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin. And then there is the Winning Poker Network, which embraced dozens of cryptocurrencies for sites like Americas Cardroom to draw in even more customers in the new age of virtual payments. However, there are several sites launched in the past year or so with a complete reliance on cryptocurrency, and those operators have yet to garner any real momentum in the online poker market. EvenBet Aims to Be Different Originally launched as Enterra, EvenBet Gaming is a gaming solutions developer and provider that offers software for sites on the iGaming Network and others. The range of platforms includes casino games and bookmaking, but online poker seems to be the current focus. The hottest thing for us this summer is a launch of @NLC2Poker project – our first ever rake free poker solution based on their own crypto currency. The project ambassador is Johnny Chan, and it is on the news everywhere. Like, on Calvin Ayre: https://t.co/20lVPQGDYD — EvenBet Gaming (@EvenbetGaming) August 14, 2018 The company claims to have launched 50 online poker and casino rooms in its nine years of existence, though only two of its listed customers are even vaguely familiar to many gaming experts. PokerDom is popular in the Russian market for its online poker offering, and Poker MIRA is available as a Facebook flash game. And EvenBet has its own EvenBet Poker site as well. But EvenBet CEO Dmitry Starostenkov spoke to Gambling Insider recently about pushing online poker deeper into the cryptocurrency world. He believes that cryptocurrency-only poker sites are the key to the game’s future and no-rake poker software has a special appeal to longtime players. New thought leadership from EvenBet Gaming CEO Dmitry Starostenkov on Gambling Insider. If in doubts if there is a real growing market for crypto poker, go check it! https://t.co/dNSalrNzYk — EvenBet Gaming (@EvenbetGaming) August 17, 2018 No-Rake NoLimitCoin Still Relatively New In July, EvenBet launched NoLimitCoin Poker, an online poker room using its own cryptocurrency and operating on the EvenBet Poker network. The site boasts of no rake for its customers,
Preparedness can pay off. That seems to be the case for three casinos in Pennsylvania. Parx Casino, Mount Airy Casino Resort, and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack have been approved for online gaming licenses just one month after submitting their applications. What seemed like a hurried process, with sizeable applications containing dozens of documents submitted in the last days of the application window set by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, now appears to be moving at a quicker pace. And this is a positive sign for the online gaming process in general. Those anxiously awaiting the launch of internet poker and other games in Pennsylvania have endured a painfully slow system thus far, which started with years of attempts to pass legislation and then consisted of months of developing regulations and preparing for licensing. Just past the midpoint of 2018, it seems the rest of the path to online gaming may not be as long as many anticipated. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approves first wave of Internet-based gambling licenses https://t.co/sNI7jJhlXW — PGCB (@PAGamingControl) August 16, 2018 Three Approvals On August 15, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced that its Board for Interactive Gaming held its first public meeting, which resulted in the awarding of three interactive gaming licenses. The first of the three meetings in August – the second and third are set for September and October – considered three casino operators that submitted applications for all three types of licenses. Instead of paying $4 million for each of the three, they were able to pay $10 million to offer all three types of online gaming, which will be: –Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate slot machines –Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate table games –Peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate poker And with that, the Board announced approvals for Chester Downs and Marina (operating Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia), Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment (operating Parx Casino), and Mount Airy (operating Mount Airy Resort Casino). Each company now has 60 days to pay their $10 million licensing fees. Official presentations submitted by the 3 current Interactive Gaming certificate holders in Pennsylvania. PA online poker launch in upcoming months. Harrah's (888/WSOP)https://t.co/wUBWlImxSA Mount Airy (Stars/888)https://t.co/XqnOW8lRff Parx (GAN)https://t.co/1iFamT8KmG — David Huber (@dhubermex) August 16, 2018 Knowns and Unknowns There is little known at this point except that the three approved casinos have every intention of offering online table games and slots, as well as online poker. The fees are too high to apply for and obtain licenses for all three types without having some sort of plan to operate all of them. It is known that Harrah’s has
Two months ago, Jason Somerville took his partnership with PokerStars to a new level. The nature of the deal was somewhat vague, but it was clear that PokerStars had chosen to invest in Run It Up Studios, the brand that Somerville had built from a small livestreaming endeavor in his basement to a globally popular business that featured several types of poker content. The longtime poker pro and PokerStars-sponsored player got his start in online poker during the poker boom, but he lost the ability to maintain that momentum after Black Friday. He chose to continue living in the United States, and he allowed his passion for poker to dictate his next moves. Somerville clearly started livestreaming online poker out of his love for the game, as the stakes were low and the site he used was the first one available in the then-new Nevada online poker market. He garnered a sponsorship with the now-defunct Ultimate Poker, and when that company folded, Somerville simply took to another available site. He infused his entertaining and funny personality into his streams, garnered a significant online following, and transformed it all into a sponsorship with PokerStars. His Twitch channel became one of the most popular in the poker world. He then collaborated with other livestreaming poker pros affiliated with PokerStars to expand his Run It Up brand. He also hosted live tournament series once a year – now more often – in Reno, Nevada, which transformed his online fan base into personal relationships. The Run It Up Reno series now draw some of the biggest names in poker and span more than a week per series. Run It Up also includes an online store, a hand replayer, and gallery of fan art. The Run It Up Reno VII schedule has been released. The time to book your room is NOW. Head over to https://t.co/oYMhgHAJLQ and use code: RIURENO to save 20%! pic.twitter.com/MkEvOHrld4 — Run It Up Reno (@runitupreno) August 3, 2018 The latest boost for Somerville’s brand came in June when PokerStars got on board with Run It Up Studios to build the Twitch poker community through “key initiatives, including content development, innovation, and streamer development.” Taking Shape While the entirety of the relationship between PokerStars and Somerville’s Run It Up Studios is not completely clear, one piece of the puzzle was introduced last month. RunItUp247 launched in July as a new Twitch channel that provides round-the-clock poker content in the form of videos from the vast PokerStars library. Classic premium poker content now available around-the-clock for free! Here’s @erichollreiser talking about Runitup247
The story of online poker in New Jersey resembles a roller coaster, albeit with fewer ups than downs. Online poker revenue may increase from one month to the next, but it is typically followed by a decrease the following month. And the numbers almost always show a year-on-year downswing, with the industry having slipped so far down that it often seems impossible for it to find its previous norm. All the while, the overall numbers for internet gaming in New Jersey continue their continuous upswing. With very few exceptions, the revenue from the combination of all online games – including poker and slots – shows year-on-year increases of 20% or more each month. Revenue has been from $20K to $25K per month overall, and it eclipses all increases in the world of New Jersey gaming, often pulling monthly revenue up when land-based casinos show little to no progress. As we have been doing on a regular basis, let’s take a look at the monthly numbers as just released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for July 2018 to compare them to the previous month and year. July a Good Month for Online Poker The seventh month of the year tends to be a good one for online poker in general. Players are inspired by the World Series of Poker, and most of those who traveled to Las Vegas for the summer of poker returned home in July. In addition, the summer heat has set in, and many people in New Jersey – as in the rest of the United States – are happy enough to escape into an air-conditioned space and spend time online. Poker is the perfect way to spend those days. So @Gags30poker won over $70k playing online poker tournaments last week, exclusively at regulated US sites. I'm guessing this gets him to #1 in New Jersey, but more importantly this is a sign of the opportunities that are coming for US players who have been patient. — Adam Small (@AdamLoebSmall) August 13, 2018 And the numbers from online poker did show that more players did just that. After a good month of May and a sizeable downswing in June, revenue was back on its way up in July. –July 2018 online poker win: $1,848,553 –June 2018 online poker win: $1,757,839 –June 2017 online poker win: $2,008,124 –Month-on-month: 5% increase –Year-on-year: 7.9% decrease The monthly increase was significant, though it still doesn’t reach the level of May. Moreover, it doesn’t reflect the boost in revenue that the tri-state online poker liquidity project aimed for when it
Someone has an issue with online poker. Or cyber attackers see online poker sites as prime targets. The motivation and reasoning are unclear, but online poker sites have been the target of multiple recent DDoS attacks over the past week. PokerStars was the latest victim of a DDoS attack that started on Sunday, August 12, the busiest day of the poker week for any poker site but specifically the largest one in the world. And it certainly worked to take down the site for players in most parts of the world, as they were repeatedly disconnected from the site and not allowed to log back in. After PartyPoker and Americas Cardroom both fended off attacks – one more successfully and handily than the other – just last week and into the weekend, PokerStars is in the midst of its own fight. Days of Continued Attacks As a typically busy Sunday played out on PokerStars, the site’s servers began experiencing problems. Players were disconnected from tournaments across the board, including the Sunday Million, and their chip stacks were blinded down, and it took some time for PokerStars to figure out the issue. Please accept our apologies as we are currently experiencing technical issues. We are currently working on it and our services should be restored as soon as possible. — PokerStars (@PokerStars) August 12, 2018 Eventually, PokerStars determined the extent of the problem and paused all of its tournaments. While players continued to express their frustration on Twitter and forums like Two Plus Two, the operator tried to pinpoint the exact problem and repair it, all while handling customer service duties and figuring out how to restart the system. Several hours later, PokerStars posted an apology on Twitter and stated that the problem was resolved. But as players were receiving their refunds per the standard policy, many were complaining that they deserved refunds for the past hours. Frustration abounded. Our technical issues have now been resolved. Apologies to all affected players. While some refunds were made in accordance with our cancellation policy (available here https://t.co/FZ0J6tgTkI) we will evaluate whether additional refunds are necessary following our review. — PokerStars (@PokerStars) August 12, 2018 Not all countries were affected, however. Per Pokerfuse, the markets of Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Czech Republic not only remained connected, those players benefited from taking chips from the disconnected players in other markets. Meanwhile, Monday began with continuing to resolve the player refund issues until more disconnections occurred. Another wave of the attack – or a fresh attack – prompted PokerStars to pause the tournaments yet again.
The seemingly slow pace of the formation of the Pennsylvania online gaming market can be frustrating for players who are anxious to get online. Residents of the Keystone State have been watching neighboring New Jersey for years as numerous sites emerged and offered the now-elusive online poker games. The wait continues, but the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to come together. It was a bit unnerving when the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s licensing application window opened in April and no casinos applied to offer online poker, but nine of them eventually submitted their paperwork in the last days of that window last month. These casinos applied for combination licenses that will give them the authorization to offer online poker, table games, and slots: –Parx Casino –Mount Airy Casino Resort –Live! Hotel and Casino –Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem –Valley Forge Casino Resort –Rivers Casino –Sugarhouse Casino –Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack –Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course However, only a few have solidified their partnerships with online gaming operators. That’s what made The Stars Group’s announcement an encouraging update. @PokerStars can it be true? Has pokerstars partnered with Mount Airy to bring Pennsylvania poker? Please let this be true. — Johnny Ghost (@Hollowfied03) July 14, 2018 Official Partnership The press release came on Friday, August 10. “The Stars Group and Mount Airy Casino Resort today announced a partnership to enter Pennsylvania’s online sports wagering and gaming market.” The Stars Group offer online poker through PokerStars, online slots and table games through PokerStars Casino, and sports betting via BetStars. All of the sites will be integrated so that players will be able to use one online account, switching from one site to another as desired. This news comes on the heels of information relating to PokerStars in New Jersey, which is in the process of switching its player loyalty program over to the Stars Rewards system. PokerStars switched to the new club in all other markets, and current difficulties in New Jersey with the old system has prompted the company to make the change to Stars Rewards before the end of the year. Should The Stars Group receive its license through Mount Airy in the coming months and prepare its launch, it will likely implement Stars Rewards for all verticals in Pennsylvania, which will make it easier for players to earn points on one system while playing online poker or casino games or betting on sports. Also noted in the press release was the recent news of BetStars preparing to launch online and mobile sports betting services in New Jersey
There is a stark difference between online poker sites in today’s internet gambling environment. Operators that are part of publicly-traded companies are accountable to their customers and investors, so transparency is not only appreciated but required. Whether issues arise pertaining to customer satisfaction or in the technology sphere, they must all be taken seriously, addressed, and resolved. On the other hand, independent, private companies do not have those requirements. However, operators that want to survive and thrive in a competitive industry – and in which some of them function on the fringes of the law – should want to be transparent and prove their trustworthiness. They should aspire to ally themselves with their customers, striving for the highest levels of reliability, honor, and transparency. But some of them shirk those responsibilities to their players because they can. Over the past week, two online poker sites were victims of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. Hackers of unknown origins attacked the baseline systems of PartyPoker and Americas Cardroom – in separate attacks, presumably – to disrupt their services. It put the sites and their customers in danger of the theft of private information, inconvenience, and financial losses of varying degrees. The way the two sites handled the problems highlights the difference between the two primary types of poker operators in the business. PartyPoker Uses Transparency On a Thursday night, a couple thousand players are likely to be at the cash game and tournament tables of PartyPoker. The evening hours are the busiest; depending on what events and satellites are being offered, there could be anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 players on the site at that time. Last Thursday night, players were booted from PartyPoker without warning. Games stopped, players were unable to make any moves, including accessing their accounts. We are aware of ongoing issues I can assure you our team are doing their very best to resolve and resume normal service We apologise for the inconvenience and will update you all once resolved in full. — partypoker (@partypoker) August 9, 2018 Moments later, PartyPoker revealed via Twitter that it had been targeted by a DDoS attack, and the problem was being addressed. Apologies for the technical difficulties, we are working to rectify, the site has been targeted with a DDoS attack from third parties. We hope to resume normal business very soon and will keep you updated. Thank you for your patience — partypoker (@partypoker) August 9, 2018 The messages continued with regularity throughout the night, vowing a resolution by the following day. While players remained frustrated, it was clear
New Jersey online poker players are in a league of their own. While those playing on WSOP/888 are able to connect with players in Nevada and Delaware, those on sites like PokerStars are separated from the other American states and the rest of the world. That sounded more dramatic than intended. Nevertheless, PokerStars NJ is its own entity in more ways than one, including its continuing participation in the VIP Club, the last market doing so. While PokerStars has switched over to Stars Rewards in all other markets, New Jersey players are still in the old program. @PokerStarsNJ when are we getting star rewards chests? Why are we the only platform left on @PokerStars that's doesn't have it — Aret4EurO Poker (@Aret4Eur0) January 29, 2018 Finally, though, the launchpad for PokerStars in the new United States state-by-state market will be upgrading to Stars Rewards later this year. Many players don’t have a distinct preference, but the current system has been problematic for some time, and they can soon wave goodbye to those issues. Eliminating a Broken System It is unclear what has been causing the problems in the New Jersey VIP Club. The progress bar hasn’t been displaying, which keeps players from being able to track their rewards as they play. While players are supposedly earning their VIP Steps and StarsCoin, they’re unable to see how close they are to new next steps and actual rewards. PokerStars NJ has responded in forum posts and via messages to players, as Head of Customer Loyalty Dylan Coady noted the technical issues are being addressed. And players will be rewarded with extra rewards at the end of each month of problems. Instead of earning the normal 50% of the pro-rated value of the monthly progress, they will be credited with the full value as a way of making up for the issues and inconveniences. Some players are also receiving extra StarsCoin bonuses as friendly gestures. Not only is this costing PokerStars, it is frustrating for everyday players. For over two weeks now, players on @PokerStarsNJ have not been able to see or track their VIP status or progress. How has this not been fixed yet? Received an e-mail on 6/20 apologizing for the issue, but nothing further since. — BB_PitchingGuy (@FreelanceBBall) July 5, 2018 The latest update, however, prompted Coady to reveal the upcoming change. At the end of July, he wrote, “As I’m sure you’re aware, we haven’t been able to fix the lack of surfacing of the program in the NJ client. I won’t bore you with the technical details, but
Online poker companies have varying reasons for sponsoring poker pros or signing them on as ambassadors. A poker pro with a particular list of accomplishments and fame can help attract new customers and give legitimacy to the site to entice players from competitors. A person of a particular gender, ethnicity, or interesting background can become the face of the site for that demographic. And a well-known poker player from a particular country can help promote the site in that market. Enter Bruno Fitoussi, who qualifies for more than one of those reasons. To those who have been in the poker industry for more than a few minutes, Fitoussi needs no introduction. He is a highly accomplished businessman, poker pro, financial gambler, and gaming industry veteran. And in France, he epitomizes the game of poker. Fitoussi is now a member of Team PartyPoker, having signed a deal with the online poker operator to be an ambassador specifically for live poker events in Europe. And with poker liquidity growing among several countries in Europe as part of a 2017 multi-governmental agreement, the timing is ideal. [ #SPONSORING ] @partypokerlive réalise un joli coup en recrutant Bruno Fitoussi, figure française du #poker, joueur très respecté au niveau international. En revanche, le joueur est totalement absent des réseaux sociaux. pic.twitter.com/902hvSvaiI — L'Amateur de Poker (@jetonsethommes) August 2, 2018 Who is Bruno Fitoussi? He is sometimes called the King of Europe or the Godfather of French Poker. Lately, he’s been recognized for his puffy, afro-style hair. But for several decades, he has mostly been known for his contributions to and participation in the world of poker. Fitoussi was born in 1958 in Paris and was educated in the field of architecture. His wide range of interests took him into the music business as a producer and publisher, however, before he became a professional poker player in 1990. Some of his years as a pro were spent playing at the Victoria Casino in London, but he then “quit” playing professionally and relocated back to Paris. He then introduced Texas Hold’em to and spent 20 years as a consultant for the Aviation Club de France, the most well-known poker club in the country, located on the Champs-Élysées in the heart of Paris. Throughout those years, he became known as a skill player with great passion for and understanding of the game. He founded the magazine Poker 52 in 2010, commentated on countless televised poker tournaments, and he founded and still oversees a consulting firm called VIP Gaming. Seconding WSOP POY Leader @RealKidPoker's HOF choice of Bruno Fitoussi.
PokerStars has spent the last few months rolling out new poker game variations to entertain its players and to figure out what new features might spark new interest. What might strike the right tone with new players that would make them flock to the tables? What could add an extra bit of intrigue to traditional poker to boost interest? What game would be challenging enough to bring veteran players into the mix with analysis and strategy? The online poker giant has tried several games this year. There was Split Hold’em, featuring a version of running the board twice. Next was Showtime, which turned all folded cards face up. Rumors then surfaced of a game called Fusion, reportedly a mix of Hold’em and Omaha similar to Irish Poker. It was supposed to be rolled out before Unfold, but Fusion never saw the light of day. As for Unfold, this is the one that garnered the most attention from potential players. And those making decisions at PokerStars decided that Unfold would be the next game revealed. Unfold Previews Last month, hints about Unfold began to leak out, albeit purposefully and strategically. And it soon became evident that Unfold was going to be the next game made available to PokerStars players. The general idea was that players who folded their hands would be able to play in a bonus round of the game in which they could unfold their hole-cards and play on after seeing the board. Dear PokerStars UNFOLD players: We know. Oh, do we ever know. https://t.co/8DHETPnbyc pic.twitter.com/EbK6XO8dpu — PokerStarsBlog (@PokerStarsBlog) August 6, 2018 PokerStars did, in fact, introduce Unfold just days ago. Unfold will be available in no-limit hold’em cash games with a minimum of four players at the table. Every player will post an ante that becomes the separate Unfold pot. The game then proceeds as normal until the flop is dealt. If any player who folded pre-flop regrets that decision and wants to unfold his or her hand, that player may pay an Unfold bet, which totals the sum of the previously-tallied Unfold pot of antes. Those players are then done betting, but other players can continue betting on the turn and river for the main pot. Even if the main pot is awarded before the river, the final community cards are dealt for the sake of the Unfold pot. It should be noted that Unfold antes are collected in Unfold-eligible tables with the minimum number of players, but those antes may be returned if the main pot is decided before the flop is even dealt, if fewer