Wednesday saw the launch of LiveAce.com, a new US-based social/subscription poker site with a twist: the browser-based site is focused on rake-free ring games, not tournaments, and you can auction off your virtual chips for real cash. CEO Adam Stein-Sapir says traditional social poker sites are “plagued with poor play because the chips have no value.” Like other social poker sites, LiveAce allows players to play for free, purchase extra chips or gain access to hand histories and the ‘HandMaker odds calculator’ by becoming a ‘premium member’ for $19.99/month, but LiveAce also offers “unique daily auctions” that allow players to (theoretically, at least) convert chips into real money.
Here’s how it works: chips won during poker play are designated as ‘live’ chips. Every day, the site will allocate a certain pool of cold hard cash up for bidding. Players can make bids by specifying how much of their live chip stack they’re willing to trade for a specific chunk of that real-money prize pool, and the site crunches these two figures to determine your individual ‘bid rate.’ All bids are secret. At the end of the auction, the player with the highest bid rate gets the amount of cash they sought, while the next highest bidder gets the amount they sought, and so on until that auction’s cash pool is exhausted. Unsuccessful bids aren’t charged any chips, allowing them to try again at the next auction. (Watch the video at the bottom of this page for a slightly more nuanced explanation.)
LiveAce claims the auction gambit is legal in 31 US states and the District of Columbia (similar to ‘sweepstakes’ social casino offerings from the likes of GameHouse Casino). Whether all 31 state attorneys-general will agree with that argument remains to be seen and critics are already predicting a plunge in ‘live chip’ value once a critical mass of players sign on and start undercutting each other’s bids. Regardless, the site is now live and offering players a free week to try out its Club Live premium memberships. World Series of Poker bracelet holder and former World Poker Tour player of the year Andy Frankenberger has signed on as LiveAce’s first sponsored pro.