New online poker sites


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

But unfortunately not all for US players

The past few weeks have seen several major poker site launches, underlining yet again the confidence in this sector by large and well backed companies.

Probably the highest profile launch was that of Playboy Gaming, although the bash put on in London by Playtech's Tila Tequila Poker was mighty impressive, we're told.

Playboy's investment in the market shows that even established big-name brands are bullish in their approach to the future of the industry. With perks such as the chance to win a trip Hugh Heffner's Playboy Mansion or the option to watch Playmate videos at the same time as using the poker room or casino, the new enterprise has some powerful USP.

Another significant launch has been that of, (see previous InfoPowa reports) an online gambling community billed as a mix of MySpace and Vegas. Here punters have access to all the usual casino and poker games but also have the chance to set up their own profile, upload videos or pictures, write a blog, and join in forum debates. GNUF is run by ex-Ongame execs who really know their stuff and is powered by Microgaming.

Then there was the new Boss-powered debut of a poker site for Virgin Games, positioned as part of that very professionally presented online gambling site featuring the diverse offerings of the powerful group, which owns music and airline businesses that present formidable cross-marketing potential. Choosing the Super Bowl week to launch was a canny move for the site, which features a multitude of tournaments, ring games, tuition and free roll promos. When InfoPowa staff checked one week night there were 5411 players on 917 tables having a ball, an indication of the fast acceptance this new venture has achieved.

Also new on the scene is, believed to be associated with the doyen of poker playing and his successful Doyle's Room online poker operation. Powered by Tribeca Tables and due to move shortly to a brand new but substantial network we are told, Straightflush has a good selection of games, $4 million a month in tourneys, freerolls, education and desirable prizes. Owned by Straightflush LLC, the site is licensed in Kahnawake and has a fully certified entropy-based RNG.

Rounding off the good selection of new poker venues is Rileys, due for launch in April and backed by the software and expertise of the group in Gibraltar. Rileys is already a brand well known and respected in the UK, owning 168 snooker and pool rooms that presents good cross-marketing potential.

The UIGEA notwithstanding, many online poker rooms have been growing. PokerStars, which has remained open to US customers, has become the world's biggest poker room, pulling in nearly 20 000 real-money players at peak times, compared to roughly 10 000 before the UIGEA forced PartyPoker and others from the US market. Full Tilt, Bodog and UltimateBet have also prospered by remaining open to US gamblers.

And it's not just those who stayed in the US who have been doing well. PartyPoker, which saw its player numbers fall by over 50 percent in the immediate debacle of the UIGEA, has been recovering steadily and continues to push forward with ambitious European and Asian expansion plans. Player numbers are up by almost 70 percent since October, with the poker site breaching the 10 000 simultaneous players barrier regularly in recent weeks. That's not yet up to the pre-UIGEA levels of 13 000 players, but it's an extraordinary recovery from the initial drop down to 6 000 when Party abruptly exited the US market.

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