“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison.
Greatness is achieved through a combination of complete and utter howlers. Nobody gets it right first time, and anybody that tells you otherwise is telling porky pies. Edison is the archetypical case in point. The legendary inventor, and businessman, is famous for failing many times in his pursuit of the creation of the incandescent light bulb. The benefit of history shows us that despite getting it wrong 10,000 times he eventually got it right. He was, however, fortunate that his 10,000 mistakes weren’t shown in one location on the World Wide Web. Otherwise someone might well have beaten him to the punch.
On Tuesday, 30th April, Ultimate Poker won the race to become the first Nevada-licensed online poker site to offer real money games within state borders. The event that everyone in the gambling industry had been talking about had finally arrived, and unlike the pioneer, Thomas Edison; CyberArts (Ultimate Poker’s software developers) had plenty of role models from which to pick the best parts and discard the trash. Just trawling through the threads on 2+2 for PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, PartyPoker, et al provides you with all of the prayers of the online poker player – all you have to do is provide the answers.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that particular memo found it’s way to CyberArts, with a 190+ page thread on 2+2 littered with complaints concerning graphics, ease of access, speed, getting money in and out and a whole host of issues that have, at one time or another, affected at least one other online poker operator in the not to dim and distant past. Is it too simplistic to just copy the PokerStars model, slap on a different dress and just make it a whole lot better?
It seems the memo that CyberArts did receive was pretty straightforward, and that was to ensure they were the first online poker site to open their virtual doors in the US.
But at what price?
In football – soccer to all you Americans – when a player delivers a short pass to his colleague, thus enabling his opponent to come crashing in with a well-timed tackle, they call it a ‘hospital pass,’ and that is exactly what CyberArts have given the customer support team at Ultimate Poker. The level of basic programming mistakes and cosmetic issues is amazing. You can understand the issues surrounding cellphone triangulation and IP address woes, but hand histories issues, table resizing problems, auto post feature issues, lobbies that are missing stack sizes or blind levels and problems getting money on and off the site is basic stuff.
That hospital pass combined with the lack of the basics has driven some of the American online population to the point of despair. They get excited, they have a terrible first experience, they contact customer support, customer support is snowed under with complaints and cannot respond and the customer gets even angrier.
“Weeee Ultimate Bet is back!” Said one 2+2 poster called Fizzypants.
If you want to cast your eye on what a true marketing cock up looks like then you don’t have to look much further than the International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT) before the lads from Dusk Till Dawn (DTD) flew in and saved the day. If the ISPT was a DIY shop you would have walked in asking for a hammer and walked away with a drill, and this is part of the problem that Ultimate Poker now has. The picture that everyone connected with the site promised the public has just not materialized. In addition, not only does their name almost mirror that of the famous site that stole millions from their players, but they chose to do business with IOVation, the player verification service set up by Greg Pierson that provided Ultimate Bet’s software, and lest we not forget, the infamous ‘God Mode’ that Russ Hamilton used to prey upon his defenseless victims. Ultimate Poker has since severed ties with IOVation after the news spread on 2+2, but why on earth did they allow the partnership to even begin? Is it a secret that online poker players have been stiffed left, right and center?
2+2 forum poster, Topdog87 states: “this site is a joke…extremely sub-par software…terrible judgment(GP)…worse name…client crashes on the regular…location issues…phone issues…tourneys cancelled mid-way thru…WHAT A JOKE….please WSOP.com…get out to market with something that resembles PS or FTP, “ before continuing, “I’ve been following this thread since UP launched…i just cant believe how stupid poker players are…that they are willing to deal with all this 2nd rate service/software just to play…i don’t know about u but seeing two nine of spades on a flop is pretty bad imho…but hey…they are working it out…NOT…this site is history.”
Despite admitting that he hasn’t even played a hand on Ultimate Poker, Topdog87 does raise two very important points. As the world economy continues to splutter, companies are driving cost out of their business to the detriment of service. The decision makers are blind. In their desperation for a balance sheet that looks great right now; they fail to see that the lack of customer service will likely result in a significant loss of profits further down the line. This irresponsible attitude has left the world with possibly the worse customer service it has ever witnessed, and it has reached such a level that we now expect it. It has become the norm. As the ISPT and Ultimate Poker will prove. People will put up with anything and this is especially true if it’s the only thing on offer. Why else would millions of people be driving the movie and music industry out of business by choosing to watch, and listen, to second-rate products? It seems Ultimate Poker can screw up as many times as they want and we will still look lovingly into their eyes.
My second point concerns Topdog’s plea for WSOP.com to enter the market with something that resembles the PokerStars or Full Tilt client, and it takes me back to my initial point when I challenge the decision to be first into the market and ask ‘at what price?’
The Ultimate Poker site rep on 2+2 called Dax – who should be knighted for answering so many complaints – said that they are going through what is known as a ’30-day field trial,’ so the Nevada Gaming Control Board can check that everything is hunky-dory, hence the reason so many of these issues cannot be immediately rectified. But there are now 190+ pages on 2+2 that WSOP.com and any other online poker operator can use to their advantage to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes. Being the first out there means you will always be used as the yardstick when the new kids come on the block. This is why I believe sacrificing quality in order to be the first into the market is going to be a mistake that will be magnified when their competitors push their products through the door.
“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” Thomas Edison