The popularity of partypoker LIVE has risen amongst the rank and file of the Hendon Mob community, but does this mean that they will win the Game of Doors, and what on earth do doors have to do with anything?
Kids surround me.
“Are you sure this is going to be any good?” my wife asks.
We are in the Battle for Metropolis ride, as part of Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest, in Los Angeles.
Batman and Superman finish explaining how the Joker and Lex Luthor are taking over Metropolis, and how we are the only people who can prevent that from happening, and three doors open ahead of us.
90% of the crowd squeeze through the centre door.
I see this happen in the poker world.
An online poker room creates a new product, and the other online poker rooms create similar products with a different name.
You get my drift.
I imagine the offices of the online poker room production and design teams are full of bright minds all eager to create the next big thing. So why is it that so many online poker operators prefer to join the faceless collective instead of creating something unique?
In an industry dominated by the players who learn to embrace a high-risk strategy, those who provide the playgrounds often seem anything but. Those outer doors seem too edgy. Following the back of the head allows the fear to melt away like our ever-warming ice caps.
Which Door Does partypoker Walk Through?
A Hendon Mob survey reveals that since March 2017, the poker community’s opinion of the partypoker brand has jumped from a 40.4% positive vibe to one of 63.4%, and poor opinion declined from 24% to 16%.
They are on a roll.
They seem to be doing all of the right things.
The headhunters brought in John Duthie and Mike Sexton, two highly respected stalwarts within the poker industry. Both of whom are synonymous with two of the iconic brands in live tournament history: The European Poker Tour (EPT) and the World Poker Tour (WPT).
The headhunting didn’t remain in the boardroom. Some of the most respected players in the poker industry have joined the partypoker revolution. The central theme seems to be respect and trust as they lay markers in strategic locations around the globe.
They made a vow to become the world #1 live tournament operator. They are well on their way. The MILLIONS concept with a hybrid online/live early phase structure, vast guaranteed prize pools, and seven-figure first prizes have been successful. Players have voted with their feet, ensuring that what partypoker says they are going to deliver, they have.
In recent weeks, partypoker has also focused their all-seeing eye on the high stakes online poker scene. Sam Trickett, Patrik Antonius, and Fedor Holz are all set to create the 2017 version of Rail Heaven. Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan will follow and with them a hike in more popularity ratings.
But is partypoker LIVE following the head, or are they moving out to the edges?
I see a company doing similar things that online poker rooms have done in the past, except better. And they are doing all of this in a perfect storm after PokerStars began taking their once loyal supporters for granted.
The WPT used to hand out seven-figure scores like confetti.
It doesn’t happen anymore.
What is partypoker LIVE going to do to prevent a repeat?
Virtue Poker Skirting on the Edges
Last week, I sat down and spoke to Ryan Gittleson of Virtue Poker. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about half of the time. And while I believe communication is a key issue for a new startup like Virtue Poker, it won’t stop their flow.
Like partypoker, Virtue Poker has also begun hiring respected poker players to promote the brand in Dan Colman and Brian Rast. But that’s where the similarities end.
Virtue Poker isn’t following anyone’s head. They are not walking through the centre doors with the masses. They are at the edges of the industry trying to create the safest and most reliable place to play poker in the universe. When was the last time you heard an online poker room put safety at the top of their agenda?
Everything about the Virtue Poker setup is fresh for poker, including its use of blockchain technology, Mental Poker, and the Justice System. The inclusion of Colman and Rast (Colman approached Virtue Poker to get involved) shows they are creating something that poker players value.
Choose a Door, PokerStars.
And what does the market leader think of all of this jostling for positions?
As the doors open where do they saunter?
The wind is behind partypoker’s sails, and so I can see how people believe they will eventually breeze past the world number one. I don’t think PokerStars are worried at all.
From their Olympian vantage point, I imagine they are unconcerned about partypoker’s moves in the live tournament arena because this is not where PokerStars is going to make the big bucks or create the happiest punters.
PokerStars is a company that likes to move in the channels. You don’t often see them walking through the main door. So, as partypoker continues their strategy to take over the live tournament scene, and prize the High Rollers away with promises of regular cash games, private jets, and access to the men and women with the biggest bankrolls in Europe, PokerStars is working on changing the game entirely.
PokerStars Power Up, and not partypoker LIVE, will create a cataclysmic change in the poker ecosystem, one that will create shockwaves for years to come.
Once the real money version comes online, and people begin playing it, it won’t be long before the thought of playing poker as it stands today will be as ridiculous as recording music with a tape deck. Then everyone will want what PokerStars has got.
There is a war raging.
It’s beautiful to see.
The online poker room that wins won’t be the one walking through the centre door; it will be the one who goes to the places their peers aren’t prepared to go.
When that happens, watch the sheep follow.