Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Good News for Online Poker in Europe..


As a lot of regular MTT grinders from Europe will know, over the past few months the European sites have been slowly losing traffic which has been reflected in the tournament guarantees. Whilst this has been happening, the two big dogs in the industry, Pokerstars and Full Tilt, have seen ever increasing field sizes resulting in larger than ever prizepools for it's customers.

There are a few reasons that I believe this has been the case:

-Vastly superior software. The pokerboom in Europe has been around a good couple of years now and even the most casual of players are starting to realise that there are better options than just playing poker through their local sportsbook.

-Advertising. Pokerstars and Full Tilt have both had an increasing presense in European mainstream media such as TV advertising in the past couple of years which is inevitably directing traffic their way.

-Superior support. We're in a recession and quite rightly people are holding onto their pennies a little more than they were say 5 years ago. People want to put money into software where they know they will have good customer support and can rely on their money still being their in 6 months time (with the assumption being they haven't lost it in the meantime!). Too many smaller skins on the iPoker and OnGame network have gone under in recent years.

-Ability to take poker skills to a higher level. As the people that are just getting going a few years ago and have hung around are inevitably going to be looking at ways to take their poker-game forward and to become more profitable. They seek better structures and software that can allow them to multitable more effectively even if they are only playing on a laptop. Quite simply many European sites simply fail at this. Whether is be iPoker's clumsy software which means you can't resize the tables or Party Pokers terrible tournament structure resulting in every final table being a complete crap-shoot. People simply want better.

So it would seem all hope is lost right? Well no, you will be pleased to hear that the European sites are fighting back...

First of all, there is large rumours in the industry at the moment of a $1.8billion merger between Party Gaming (Partypoker) and BWin (OnGame)which, if correctly managed could result in a serious rival for Pokerstars and Partypoker in the European market. This would be the largest merger the gaming industry has ever seen. At the moment I play regularly on neither Partypoker due to their terrible structures or OnGame due to the abismal software. I would expect in a merger that the good OnGame structures (with them being the majority shareholders in the merger 52%) and I would also hope to have a complete over-haul of the software to get in-line with industry leaders. This could potentially be very very exciting news for the industry. For many that aren't aware, it was only about 5 years ago that PartyPoker was the global leaders in online poker before the American UIGEA act came into place preventing US players from gambling on the site. Since then Party has done little to expand their client-base and has in fact seen a significant decline in recent years. I'm more than sure that this merger would be in an effort to resecure market sure in the industry. Afterall they are a publicly traded company and I'm sure the shareholders are routing for something along these lines.

Similarly outside of this, I have recently been offered to Beta-Test some of William Hill's new software. Currently residing on the iPoker network which I believe to be the third biggest player in the game they too have seen large numbers of their clients migrate away from their pre-dated software onto Full Tilt and Pokerstars. I will give updates after Beta-Testing but what I will recommend to them is:

-Smoother software that allows for easier multitabling
-Better satellites into live European events such as GUKPT
-Better structures for their rebuy tournaments
-Timebank and resizing of the tables

More good news, slightly off the topic is the passing of the UIGEA in America. Very briefly this bill was put into place that made it very difficult and practically illegal for American citizens to get money online and gamble on poker-websites with it. Even sites such as Pokerstars and Full Tilt. So you can imagine a typical American fish who puts x% of his weekly pay-check in to gamble with every week is much more likely to give up and spend his money elsewhere is his debit card is constantly being refused access on the sites. Particularly if he isn't too good and has to keep topping up his roll every other week too!

Well this UIGEA bill is in the process now of making online poker legal in all states (unless they specifically opt-out which looks like it will only be Utah and Hawaii anyway) which theoretically should massively increase the number of casual American players on the sites. Afterall, 40 million people play on facebook poker every month. If only 5% of these people realise that playing for money online is legal and decide to put $100 on each, that is a huge amount of extra money being injected into the system. It also looks unlikely that the Americans will get to play on the European sites if the bill is passed. Rather have Full Tilt, Pokerstars and possibly Cereus network regulated by official bodies (rather than the current off-shore gaming that they are). This would mean more money to US-taxes but would most likely not effect us European players too much other than provide a lot more dead-money into the poker economy. Who knows, if the sites get regulated it might also spark some more deposits from this side of the pond from people who were skeptical of using their debit or credit cards for online gambling in the first place.

Regardless of all this, I think the main aim of this post is to say that things are looking up for Poker in the forthcoming 12 months. I think the industry will see a big improvement and if this bill gets passed a large surplus in additional players. It may all go tits-up but for the meanwhile I'm pretty optimistic...

1 comment:

  1. Great post sir. Well thought out and you talk sense. I will be in uni for most of these 12 months though so you go on crushing full time while i will only play my bit part!