Ultimate Poker Karma: WSOP Has Accidental "Soft Opening" of Real Money site

04 June 2013


Ultimate Poker may be the only fish in Nevada’s online poker sea at the moment, but the sharks are circling. And these sharks come with lasers.

One month out of the gate, Ultimate Poker has experienced the strains, pains, and gains of any new online enterprise. Social media instantly aired early successes and dirty laundry with equal fervor, and the competition was quick to comment on any bad press.

Like Ty Stewart, for example. The World Series of Poker Executive Director made light of the early missteps made by Ultimate Poker in the days and weeks after its April 30th launch. And no one would really blame him. After all, when it was brought to light that Ultimate was using an unlicensed and downright unfortunate service provider to identify new players, we were all at a bit of a loss (but not for words–speculation ran rampant). And when two Nine of Spades showed up in the flop of a game of Hold’em, well, everyone cringed. And most did verbally.

Enter line about karma and its unfortunate split personality.

The World Series of Poker experienced a glitch recently that allowed its unlicensed website to go live, allowing players gain access to the pay-to-play area prematurely. Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which owns the WSOP, luckily caught the mistake relatively quickly, shut down the site and notified Nevada gaming regulators of the incident.

While we may see a few chortles back and forth between Station Casinos (majority owner of Ultimate Poker) and Caesars at the other’s expense, the real story is that these two companies comprise the lionshare of Nevada’s online poker market. While the state has approved the applications for over 20 casino operators and and technology companies, only Ultimate Poker has launched its site, and WSOP, depending on the outcome of the glitch (some would say “soft open”), could wait as late as November before launch.

Despite Las Vegas being such a beacon for gambling, both figuratively and literally, several potential online gaming companies are finding its small population to be detrimental to their bottom lines. Until the federal government drafts national legislation making online poker legal or Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval enters into online gambling compacts with other states to increase player pools, Nevada’s online poker potential will be as limited as the number of online poker rooms players have access to. Currently players have to be physically located within Nevada’s borders to play poker online.

Limited choices means WSOP and Ultimate Poker will fight tooth and nail (or other applicable poker reference) for each player it can. This summer’s World Series of Poker event will bring more than 50,000 players from around the world to Nevada, and there will be more at stake than the individual events. Professional and amateur poker players alike tend to play poker even in their downtime, and Ultimate Poker could have the upper hand if it is the only real money site available.

“Having 100 percent market share is great, but we know it wont last,” said Tom Breiting, Ultimate Gaming Chairman in a Las Vegas Review-Journal article. We can imagine, though, they’ll ride out the winning streak for as long as it goes.

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