A review of Ultimate Poker on its first day of online poker in Nevada

It is going take more than geo-location problems and sign-up issues to stop Nevada citizens and visitors celebrating the launch of the first ever regulated real money online poker site in the United States.

Yesterday, Ultimate Poker opened the doors to the first real money games and tournaments in Nevada.

The Nevada Gaming Control Commission has called the it a “field test,” and, as can be expected, the launch did not go entirely smoothly.

One of the major teething problems was with player verification. Nevada regulation requires an operator take the necessary steps to ensure that any player is within Nevada state boundaries when they play. Ultimate Poker not only checks your IP address, it also requires cell phone triangulation by sending an SMS message to the player during sign up.

Unfortunately, the triangulation does not yet work with Verizon, which is the largest wireless provider in the US. Phones with LTE also reportedly have issues, though disabling the LTE on the device apparently fixes the problem. Ultimate stated that they are working around the clock to come up with a solution.

Players also reported software issues, with firewalls and anti-virus, including Internet Explorer’s built-in malware checking tool, blocking the download.

Yet despite these issues, the launch should be seen as a success. At its peak around 11pm PST, 15 cash game tables and over 100 seats were filled. At one point four 3/6 NL games were running, the highest stake offered.

According to PokerScout’s data, already tracking the new poker room (and already live on pokerfuse PRO), there was an average of 75 players playing yesterday, and a peak of 136.

One welcome surprise was just how low the rake is—with 4.5% rake across all NL stakes, the rake table is very similar to that of PokerStars, recognized as having the most player-favorable rake in the industry.

Customer service can also be commended. Representatives from Ultimate were active with the poker playing community, fielding all questions on both the 2+2 poker forums and the Quad Jacks radio show, which was “live streaming” during the event.

Only Hold’em games were available for launch, but a decent spread of 6-max and full ring SNGs, from micros up to $100 buyin, were made available. Low stakes HU SNGs were also made available. As for cash games, only NL games up to $3/6 have been rolled out, with limit games up to $10/20.

Currently the software does not generate hand histories, which means no player tracking and no HUDs. Although still up for consideration, Ultimate reps currently plan to keep a HUD-free poker room.

One decision less welcome by many players is the minimum and maximum buyin to all big-bet games set to 20-50. Deeper tables are likely to be rolled out later, representatives assure, and all player feedback will be considered.

The software is dated, something the Ultimate Poker reps openly admit. A new client is slated to only be months away, and Mac and mobile support are also in the works. But instead of delaying the launch, Ultimate wanted to get out there first.

And first they are.