Wednesday, 8 February 2012

New Blog: Working in Poker

Now I'm back to being an independent entity for the time being I feel it's only right I crack my knuckles and give my honest opinion of mine and the UK Poker scenes current situation. I'm going to cover two main points in this blog.

1. My departure from BBP.

2. The UK Poker Scene - radical ideas.

Leaving BBP

It wasn't long after my last blog that I was given the unfortunate news that my time at Black Belt Poker had come to an end. It came as a bit of a shock although working for a small company you accept that it's always a possibility.

I really enjoyed my time at BBP. Having worked for a Scandinavian brand before, I was eager to join a UK focused company as that's where my passion, contacts and marketing network had always lied.

I was part of some great promotions and two popular live events and met lots of excellent poker players. We parted ways on good terms, I certainly wasn't fired, nor was I replaced.

I have to congratulate Neil and all the BBP staff for what they have achieved. Neil especially is one of the hardest working guys I've ever met. BBP was basically an idea of his that he worked relentlessly to make a reality.

I really do think BBP could became a large success IF some major changes are made. I won't go into detail, but members of the site will know what parts of the site do and don't work both technically and theoretically. They've always had large ideas, but you have to get the basics right first, otherwise expansion is impossible.

I wish them all the success in the world and will always have my eye on them.

The UK Poker Scene - Some Radical, but Scaleable Ideas

As my recent departure from BBP proves, times are tough in the poker world. Everyone is playing catch up to Stars, but will one new site or current network ever get close? I think not as there are too many ideas floating around and too many people thinking they can become a success.

Year upon year we see sites come and go, thinking they can take the same old ideas and make them a success. Some try something new, usually with little success. BBP is hanging on in there, but like I said before I don't think they have a chance for large expansion until changes are made. Real Deal Poker had a real shot at being big. They had a product that could attract the fish to online poker, which in turn would attract online players to take them on. Had they of been smart, i.e. not greedy, with their idea, they could of been a big success. Yet they tried taking on the big dogs themselves and failed.

Can anyone do it?

I believe so, and without the need for fancy ideas and crazy business plans. What's needed is co-operation, utilisation of local knowledge, conquering separate markets and then forming a large entity. Let's take the UK for example.

We have several independent online brands in this country all taking 90%+ of their business from UK players. The best examples:

Black Belt Poker

Sky Poker

Dusk Till Dawn

Rags 2 Riches (The Western Club)

One Way Poker

Gutshot (The International Club)

Sure there are the Genting’s and Grosvenor’s, but I'm not worried about them, they pull enough revenue through their casinos to make online nothing more than a fashion requirement as opposed to a real necessity (I'd be interested to see their revenue figures).

Then there are the big brands like 888 and Party with a strong marketing presence in the UK, but they are hardly 'local brands'.

So, let's take the list above. Online the biggest is Sky by far, in fact they've been so successful they are on their own independent network. Add up the rest and you're probably close to doubling the player base Sky has to offer, but not only that, you bring into the mix some serious assets.

DTD is obviously Europe's best poker venue and the Western and International are both solid clubs in the London Area. BBP and One Way both have strong live poker ties with various smaller clubs and groups.

What if each of these companies merged to form one UK super network?


(please don't laugh at my graphical skills, this is just an example!!)

Here are some of the online benefits I feel this mega merger would bring:

1. Great traffic at reasonable times for UK players. Nearly everyone on the network would work, so would be playing mostly in the evening, just like live games.
2. Regular influx of recreational players. Let's not hide the fact, live games are always fishy, and the goal is to bring these players online. Affiliate deals can work, but it takes a lot of effort. If it's all the same brand, then it's much, MUCH more likely these players will play online.
3. Games are ALWAYS good. As I just mentioned, live games are always fishy. Sure there are some good players out there, but they are mostly lost within the wash of recreational player of varying skill. These type of games would be better mimicked online, making it tasty for the good players, but still fun for the recreational players, as they are never really picked on.

Some points about the software:

1. MAKE IT TRANSPARENT. People need to KNOW it’s a fair deal. Get regulated in the UK. SHOW people how it works. There should be no question about it.
2. Integrated HUD/Tracker software. Yes, the argument is that this is open to everyone, but the casual player will never go through the hassle of buying or learning it, or even knowing about it. What if it was all integrated, with options for beginner and advanced users, and of course plenty of info to help one learn. Now the playing field is definitely level, and the site can monitor what information is shared and used within their games.

Some of the live benefits:

1. The first ever CHAIN of UK poker clubs, not connected to a casino. A uniformed standard would be set, so you know whenever you step into one of these venues, you’re in for a great game of poker.
2. An easy route to expansion. With a wider stretch of players, and a wider audience, opening a new venue with an already established name will be much easier than opening a new brand.
3. Influx of online player live. While it’s usually the goal to get live players online, if we have a brand that’s happy with either, we can get nervous online players venturing out more.

Could anyone else join?

Of course. I really like the franchise business model. People pay to represent the brand, then earn income based on their personal performance. Other online sites can come on board and join the network, but instead of multi brand under hand competition, we all represent the same company, and all have the same goals. The same could happen with live venues.

What happens abroad?

Once the UK is conquered, we then launch networks in other countries made up of independent brands, using the exact same model. We succeed as we’re bringing in people with local knowledge, who know their market.

Once several countries are up and running, we have regional tables, and joint tables online. Perhaps you’re content to play against your fellow countrymen, but sometimes you might fancy the challenge of playing other regions. One word is important here, CHOICE.

Think about it.

Wouldn’t it be amazing? We take the best bits about local brands and turn it into a worldwide community. A poker network by poker lovers.

I wish.

Time to reel it back in. Where to next? I’m speaking to a few people with some interesting things on the table. I’m ready to get back in the mix and dedicate myself to a brand once again. I’m looking forward to the future.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all the support over the last couple of years. I will be back!


Nick the Greek..Dogfather said...

Hi Chris, Good blog but i have some points to make, Firstly you are more pro-online poker i think its fair to say and i happen to be more pro-Live poker, nothing wrong with that of course but the two are becoming miles apart as the game grows on a Global scale. When the game was put together back in the day, it was intended to be a long drawn out game with deepstacks and the involvement of certain skills such as reads on players and tells on opponents, now of course its about the click of a mouse and hope your luck holds up, all online poker has contributed to the game is speed, rebuys, re-entry and so on and most of the younger players will tell you they have pot odds and equity and...blah blah blah.
We all know where this has come from and its taking the game in a direction that i don't really want it to venture domination, although it may too late already, also lets take into account that most big tournaments are out of reach to most poker players unless you win a package of some kind and again that's dominated by online etc. and i think you will find that a large portion of online players are getting fed up with it also. So what is the solution!! well your idea about the Live venues could work as long as it was not controlled solely by the bigger companies, that would be disastrous long term, the game needs to get back to its roots in some way but keep the razzmataz and all that goes with it, then we would have the perfect game, keep thinking and maybe you will crack it, hope you find a job you enjoy once again and good luck.


Nick the Greek
Dogfather of the Pokerdogsuk.

markbax said...

u got some cracking ideas there chris,lets just hope the ones with the money sit up and listen,get yourself a backer and you could be the next richard branson : )
good luck mate

BurnleyMik said...

Some very good ideas Chris and in principle you are right with lots of what you say, but ets be honest in reality it could never work IMO. Just too many companies involved.

I agree a lot with what Nick commented, but we need more smaller live venues that don;t require these expensive gaming licences and unfortunately casino's hold the monopoly.

The market is incredibly cut-throat online, unless you are pokerstars and lets be honest they have what the players really want, great software and plenty of traffic. I just can't see anyone catching up at the minute...

Good post though.


amateur said...

Some nice ideas chris but regulation in the UK is very restrictive.
Also, if you want recreational players then get rid of huds/tracking. Most, if not all recreational players I know have zero interest in using them and see them as cheating by pros.
GL with future career moves

Johnny said...

It is always hard to make decisions like the one you made: quitting your job. It takes a lot of courage to do so and I can say congratulations for that. It's good though that you learned a lot while working and now you started your own 'business' which i consider amazing. Keep up the good work !