Online poker operators have been upgrading their software. Nick and Mike take you through some of the new features and games that have become available. The World Series of Poker has announced their online bracelet events for this summer. The guys discuss the new emphasis on the online game by the WSOP and add meaningful perspective to top line items. And finally, Run It Once Poker has turned 1 year old. The guys look back at its first year and forward to year 2 to tell you what to expect from the upstart online poker room.
Mike: Hello and welcome everybody to the Pokerfuse Podcast. It is February 19th 2020. This is episode number 43. I’m your host Mike Gentile along with my co-host Nick Jones.
Mike: This week on the podcast: More updates to some of the biggest online poker clients have been announced and rolled out, we’ll take you through the highlights.
Mike: The World Series of Poker has announced its online bracelet events for the 2020 series and the numbers are on the rise. We’ll compare the number of events this year to the years past and discuss the added emphasis of the WSOP on the online game. Finally, Run It Once Poker has had its first birthday. We’ll talk about some of the improvements the site has made in its first year and speculate on what could be coming year two.
Mike: There have been a few product updates in the online poker world since our last podcast. We’ve seen things like 6 Card Omaha go live, throwable items go live, both of those PokerStars by the way, GGpoker’s added spins. Nick anything else jump out a you?
Nick: Yes, they seem to be the big ones. It’s our regular segment now on the podcast where we just talk about stuff that we’ve reported like a new product updates, and there’s another trio this week all pretty interesting and worth talking about. I think 6 Card Omaha is perhaps the most interesting that’s live now in the .com market on PokerStars. Could be live by the time you hear this one on some of the regional clients like the UK and Russia, not quite sure the stakes to them, but that is rolling out globally as the name would suggest its Omaha but you get dealt six cards instead of four.
Mike: Interesting. Any sensor on how popular of a game that’s going to be? I know we talked about this game when we first found out it was coming but for the life of me, I can’t remember how popular it is.
Nick: Yes. I haven’t checked. It only went live like four or five days ago. I’ll be honest, I haven’t looked in the client to see how many games of this are firing off so I’m not quite sure. It was interesting about the launch is that all the games that folks have launched over the last two years from Fusion and Tempest or Deep Water, we’ve talked about a lot of them on this podcast, they’ve all launched with quite a bit of fanfare behind them, so it’s got a tab in the lobby, when you click on that you get a new designed lobby, a blind lobby, where you just hit your buy-ins and click Go and a table launches, then that table itself is going to be styled to fit, there might be custom animations and sound effects to fit the theme of the game.
This, which is I think we probably would have talked about before, which is what we predicted looks just like a normal poker game like any of PokerStars’ cash game variants that they’ve had for a long time kind of legacy, niche games, whether it’s Courchevel, or 5 card Omaha or Badugi, all these games, which are still in the lobby today it launched like that. Honestly, unless you know about it, you wouldn’t find them which is why I think that popularity wise, I imagine not a lot of these games are running just because you would have to dig down into the lobby to find these new tables.
Mike: Unlike some of their other recent variants, like Tempest and Deep Water Hold’em, some recent ones this one is a permanent addition?
Nick: Well, my guess would be yes because just the way it’s been deployed. I guess if it if it does not find any traction at all, I guess they’ll quietly just remove it but they seem to be happy to- You can still play or try and get going draw five card draw or seven cards start or and even in that I looked at these 5 card Omaha version, so they’ve had it last five or six years they launched 5 card Omaha, and they’ve got high-low split versions, they’ve got and then Courchevel is just slightly different, they’ve got a high-low split of that, they might even be limit version of that games. They’ve got five or six different versions of that game. God knows how frequently they run.
That kind of 6 card game just adds to that. I’d be surprised if this gets removed just because folks still seem happy to keep these niche games running even if they don’t get a lot of traction as they don’t take up any space in the lobby. My gut is that they are, they’re going to be there for the long haul. What’s interesting is to my knowledge outside of our articles about this, and this is from us spotting it, I see no PR from PokerStars at all.
I haven’t seen any of their streamers out there trying these games. I can’t see how these games are going to get going unless the word gets out a bit that they’re there. Maybe they’re just out there as a quiet trial to test things out before they do a bit of a push but I know in the past when they’ve done it, they’ve at least done PR and you might see some streamers playing them. It’d be interesting to see if this gains a lot of traction.
As you would imagine, the 6 Card Omaha, as the name suggests, is just like 4 Card Omaha except you get dealt six cards, you still have to make the best hand of two in your hand, two of your six in your hand and the five on the board. As you can imagine, that’s going to be a very loose game. 41 of the 52 cards will get dealt out by showdown if you’ve got a full table. Pre-flop equity’s going to run crazy close together. Obviously, an action game if it takes up. I think it’s played in part limit format, is the only one spread at the moment. That is live now. We will see if people play it at all.
Mike: Okay. While speaking of trials, we talked about recently these all in Sit & Go’s at PokerStars was trialing, not all inner fold, just every person, all in every hand. How is that going?
Nick: From what we can tell, it’s been removed. This game launched quietly, again, only spotted by us and written and talked about by us. It was in Spain only. As you say, basically lotteries, you enter, you don’t even have to be present. Everyone goes all in. Somebody wins. Sit & Go’s, these are on-demand and perhaps most controversially with quite a high rate. We talked about a lot of that I think last week.
Anyway, they launched within a day or two, the tab had been removed, but the games were still present. We think five or six days later, they were removed. Now today they’re not there at all. Not quite sure if we just killed it [laughs] from talking about on one podcast or whether it was this tiny trial to see what happened. Very few of these games did fire off. We did actually see, interestingly, they started removing these tables but one stuck around for 24 hours, because two people were sat in it, trying to get the game going and it never fired off and ultimately they removed that last table and the game is gone. My guess would be that that’s it and that we’re not going to see that again. We spent 10 minutes talking about it last week and now it’s over and most people never would’ve got to play. Maybe that was it. Maybe to see the first initial reactions from people.
Mike: Well, PokerStars, we also saw another update from them, throwable items. Something that was, or is available in the PokerStars VR product, has made its way now via Aurora to the main client. What do we know about that? Where is it available? What can you throw? What are the details?
Nick: This is only available in Italy and it has actually been quietly enabled in Italy for a long time, or a few months at least, but we only finally got to test it ourselves and we did an article on that this week, and a post and I talked about it. It’s got some wider attention that this exists. It’s not a new kind of mini-game or game type or anything. It’s literally as it would sound. Sat at the table, you can throw a fish at your opponent or a frying pan or a couple of other things. I can’t quite remember what they are.
It’s just a fun little thing that you can have. It’s also not new, as you say, PokerStars have got in VR. ATT have classically had it for years and years and years that you can throw items at your opponents. It’s just a bit of fun, a fun thing to have. The interesting thing is I think how well this is implemented. I know Aurora, their new game engine has a lot of critics from poker base.
From just my own personal experience and definitely as a casual player now, I think it’s a big step forward what they can do in terms of high fidelity games, better sound effects and animations. It’s much improved and you can see that through the novelty games that we talked about before, the way they’ve rolled out things Tempest and stuff like that. They’re much more engaging games and throwable objects is a really good example of that. These are fun to play with. When you use it, you fire like this crosshair at your opponent and they light up and this big arc shows up where you throw it and it follows that arc and you get sound effects.
It’s fun to use. It’s a good example of what they can do. As I said, it’s interesting that they haven’t deployed this wider, it’s been live in Italy, what we think is weeks, if not months. I think it’s two or three months. Why this hasn’t gone wider? I’m not sure.
I don’t see any downside.
The only other thing we know is we think that you only get two initially and to unlock the other stuff to throw, maybe you have to complete missions or achievements but we couldn’t quite work out how we did that for ourselves. We only had two unlocked, but that is live now on all tables in Italy for at the real money tables, tournaments, cash games. It’s all there.
Mike: Can the rest of the table and the target of the person that’s being thrown at, can they see all this animation and sound effects too? They know this is happening.
Nick: Yes, absolutely. We actually threw something to somebody and they checked back at us and threw something back at us. Obviously, you have to have Aurora enabled to see this. I imagine that, I think it’s default now everywhere, but I think you can still switch back, I believe, to the regular client. I will also say, I should mention the punch poker is added this to mobile and they plan to expand this to desktop as well. It’s also available and potentially inspired by a lot of the Asian sites, like PP Poker have stuff like this. People can definitely see it if something gets thrown at you.
Mike: Okay. We also saw an announcement about GGPoker adding some new game formats. What do we know on that front?
Nick: This is going to be their second attempt at a Lottery Sit & Go, Jackpot Sit & Go type game, perhaps better known as Spin & Go on PokerStars or Expresso on Winamax et cetera. GGPoker have had a game in the past in this style called Fortune, Fortune something, Fortune Gold. Let me look it up. Well, it doesn’t matter but anyway, that didn’t last too long and it was canned. It was quite, won’t get into details of how it worked, but it was quite different should we say two other games.
Then the new game coming out is called Spin & Gold, and that’s going to be, it’s got a few interesting twists, but it’s mostly going to be much like you get with other games, much less twists of what they had before. It’s going to be three-handed, winner takes all, random prize at the top, et cetera, et cetera. It looks their highest prize is going to be 12,000 times the buy-in, which seems to be like an industry standard. They’re going to have binds up to I think 4, $50 is their highest buy-in, we think initially. They’re going to have 1, 5, 20 and 50. Top prize, the top one is $600,000 and that is going to launch here in a couple of weeks’ time I think. At the end of this month that’s going to go live.
Mike: Do we have any indication if this is going to be a blind lobby type game for them?
Nick: Yes. II an’t really see how this game would work without it, and that’s what everyone’s done. Certainly, it’s going to be like a blind lobby type deal.
Mike: Okay. Well that, I think that puts a bow on all of the product updates or is there anything else?
Nick: Well, we could talk, we should touch on briefly what we think is going to be slightly different with these Spin & Gold games. The main standard tournament itself will be normal. They’ve got two interesting twists. One of them is just going to be like a built-in challenge system. When you start the game, you can say, “Right, I’m going to play for one hour” and then you can choose a target to aim for, the amount of gold you’re going to mine, in this game is the naming they’re going to use for that. You earn gold by playing- the high buy-in tournament, you earn more gold and if you place first, you win more gold, but any finished position, you earn gold, and if you play for your set number of hours, then you’re going to unlock an extra prize, and I think it can equate to 30% to 50% extra rake back. I think if you hit those targets.
Mike: Wow, that’s significant.
Nick: I hope that I’ve got that right. What’s interesting is from the screenshots is that you can be like, “Right, I’m going to play a six hour session”. It seems to be really encouraging big grinder sessions from these. Maybe it’s just something they want to get the games going and get them running. They’re really encouraging people to commit for long play periods but yes, just looking here.
Well, what we’ve seen is the PR screenshots that they sent around, but it says that you get like, “Right, I’m going to play for one, two, three, five or eight hours” and then when you click on one, the example I’ve got here, I’m going to play for three hours, and then you’re like, “Right, I’m going to shoot for mining 3,000 gold” and if you do that, you get $10 back, which is apparently 48% cash back. In fact, it goes up to like 63% cash back. Maybe those numbers are inclusive of the existing rewards, but either way that’s a pretty rewarding play, but I guess it might be hard targets to meet, maybe that’s a lot of tournaments and a lot of first and second places.
Mike: Do players have the ability to customize those targets or is this just dependent on the number of hours that you intend to play?
Nick: Well, you can’t customize it exactly, but you can choose from what looks one in six. The example they got here is three hours. Then you got six different targets, so anything from 700 gold to 27,000 gold. You decide what you’re going to shoot for basically. The absolute top one they’ve got here is like $120 extra in rewards, but I’m guessing that’s extremely hard to hit 27,000 gold mine. I’m guessing that’s a lot of multi-tabling.
Mike: I wonder if there’s an advantage to underestimating or overestimating your target.
Nick: Yes, that’s going to be the interesting thing for players to discover, isn’t it? You gave a high target but then does it— Again, I think it’s going to be luck-based because you earn more for first place and then for second place and you do get some for the last place but not that much so you need to run well in those as well or if you don’t then maybe you have to fire up extra tables. It would be incentivizing people to maybe move out of their comfort zone and also play high stakes so you can start off planning to play the $5, but if you’re not going to hit it, there’s the encouragement to step up to a higher buy-in which rewards more gold.
Mike: Okay. Well, that’s definitely an interesting development coming from GGPoker. I was a bit surprised when we discovered a while back that they didn’t have any kind of lottery-type spins in their product already.
Nick: What we were even most surprised about they don’t have any Sit & Go’s. Isn’t that right?
Mike: Right, yes.
Nick: They don’t have Sit & Go’s or Spin & Go’s now and it looks like they’re just adding Spin & Go’s. The other worth just touching on and the other interesting thing they’re adding is they seem like they’re going to have some kind of solid bet that when you play the game and the spin is turning to pick what your top prize is, you can take insurance on that. My guess is you take insurance on if it just comes up like a 2X prize so there’s a little message in the screenshot saying, “Don’t let a $2 prize hurt your bankroll”, and you can get your buy-in back. I’m guessing it’s a small side bet where if it does come up a 2X multiplier, you get you buy-in back.
Mike: Which is interesting.
Nick: Which is interesting. I think we’ve definitely written about that and I think talked on this podcast in the past about both PokerStars and Winamax have run promotions to reward the 2X prize. We talked about Winamax monopoly a few months ago. Winamax have always done this on a 2X thing, then you collect a card and if you fill up your bingo board or whatever, you get a prize so it makes that 2X not feel like a waste of time and you’ve lost out already.
It looks like rather than that— I think this is pretty clever of GG. They’re saying you can insure against that happening. It’s all going to come down to— I don’t think they’re going to be offering that insurance for free. That’s going to come at a cost. How much do you want to insure against just getting a 2X? It’d be interesting to see how they price that and how popular it is.
Mike: On average, what’s the percentage of 2X that come out? Like 60 or something?
Nick: Well, we don’t know with this. I haven’t seen the paytable for GGPokers. We don’t know the effective rate of these games. For the traditionally, it’s hard because everyone’s recently rejigged them and made the mid-levels more frequent and taken down that top prize. I think for most sites, I want to say it’s not over 50% so most games aren’t 2X, but it’s still by far the most frequent. It might be like 30 or 40%. I’ll be honest, I don’t have one up in front of me and I say they have recently changed so it could be a little off on that but you’re looking in that kind of area.
Mike: Okay. Well it’ll definitely be interesting to see the players and their feedback and what kind of strategy they develop around these new games at GGPoker.
WSOP Online Bracelets
Nick: We’re on the ramp-up to the world series of poker 2020 and we’re in that period, a couple of months where WSOP do a good job of keeping everyone on their toes, releasing once a week little snippet of a new part of their schedule to get people excited. A big one and perhaps the most interesting for us as journalist s of online poker is they released their full schedule for the online bracelet events. Mike, what are the top line things we’ve learned?
Mike: Well, first of all, we’re going to see a pretty sizable increase on the number of online bracelet events from last year. That number has been steadily rising since they first started offering online events. I think back as far as 2015, but this year there will be 14 online bracelet events, which is up from the nine that were offered last year.
Nick: It’s pretty incredible how much they’re putting into online. We don’t know how many total bracelets events they’re going to be. It’s looking like it’s going to be around the 100 mark. I think they’ve announced 80 to 90, something like that, but we expect a few more.
Mike: I think it’s just at 90 or just over 90 right now with still more to come.
Nick: We’re looking right now close to 20% of that bracelet events are going to be played out online. They’ll probably work out more like 15%, but particularly for people who are bracelet hunting, it was one for the first couple of years, then I think we have three and then four. Then nine itself was more than double. We’re getting to that point where it’s a real chunk of the schedule.
Mike: 14 personal events online is huge. It seems like they’re putting a lot of effort into their online product. They’ve announced that they’re running online circuit events now. There’s also another online series, I think it’s a free-buy series that’s running in conjunction with those online circuit events. Then there’s non-bracelet events that will be held during the World Series of Poker this summer. The online Championship Series, I believe, which was also run last year is Just more evidence that they are putting a lot of time and effort into the online product. I have to assume it’s because of the popularity.
Nick: Yes, I know last year, they paid out nearly $10 million across the nine online bracelet events. They had a really big turnout. It’s great to see that level of investment when, of course, there is still this cloud hanging over of the Wire Act, Reinterpretation, and there’s always the chance that New Jersey players won’t be able to play in the tournament’s held in Nevada. Obviously, they’re confident that that wouldn’t be the case, I guess, to be announcing such a widespread—
Mike: Well, the way that they’ve mitigated that risk is by not attaching any guarantees to these online events, which is not new this year. It was the same last year. There were no guarantees, I would assume in part because of the uncertainty surrounding the Wire Act and whether or not the players in New Jersey will be able to participate. Even if they don’t— I don’t know, looking at the numbers now, we don’t have a breakdown of how many entries came from New Jersey as opposed to Nevada. I would assume that these events will be fine to run without guarantees regardless of the outcome of the Wire Act.
Nick: Yes, that’s true. We’ve gone from nine to 14 events. Are there any in particular on the schedule that are different to the last time you auditioned?
Mike: Yes, there is one that is very different and that is the first-ever five-figure buy-in, a $10,000 buy-in super-high roller event. That is new on the schedule this year. There’s a wide variety of other events as well. The prices for the buy-ins and I don’t have it up in front of me, I think start as low as like $400. There’s PLO events, there’s just a wide variety of games to choose from, from the online product which is encouraging to see.
Nick: Yes, that 10K super-high roller, I can only hope that some pretty big name people will be in town to be grinding the live event, will be attracted to play that if they’re particularly inviting a lot of people in. That’s going to be one of the softer 10K super high rollers in the WSOP schedule, you would think.
Mike: Yes, it should be. I would imagine that they are prepared for the numbers to really skyrocket for these online events too. I would hope that everything is in place for that to go off without a hitch because if the popularity continues to rise as it did last year again this year, these events could prove to be very popular I guess, have a lot of entries.
Nick: Sure. Cool. The WSOP 2020 online schedule is fully out. The first online event, looking up here, the first online event is May 31st, which I think is the day that the live series kicks off as well. It starts off with a fairly straightforward $400. I’ll tell you something else that jumps out to me just looking at this schedule now, is I have three freeze outs as well. I think they only had one list last year, maybe zero, because I think we talked about a couple of weeks ago. About their attempts to address some criticisms from some members about the number of entries that. On this schedule, there’s three freeze outs and all but one of the remainder, just one re-entry. There’s one three re-entry, which is the 700 PLO, but all the others are just one re-entry. That’s pretty cool to see.
Mike: Yes. I also noticed that they have a period of time right before the 4th of July where I think it’s like eight events in eight consecutive days for the online bracelet events?
Mike: That should be an interesting time of the WSOP this year.
Nick: It kicks off on May 31st
and then there’s a week gap, then there’s two on June 7th and June 9th, June 14 so it’s just at the weekends but then it really kicks off as you see, June 28th, they’ve got one every day through to July the 5th, including the super high roller, including the 3K. Look like they’re all no limits, there’s a Hold’em championship in there as well so that’s one-week solid block which is cool because that’s going to overlap the start of the main event I would guess.
Mike: Yes, usually does, the main usually starts on or around the 4th of July break.
Nick: Yes. That’s really attractive if you’re obviously coming into town to play that and you could be at the table playing live and firing up and these every day if you’re bracelet hunting, you’re going to be playing all of these, I imagine, a lot of the 4 or $500 mark and they go through to the July 12th. Then at the same time as you mentioned before, there’s going to be the online championship events as well, multiple tournaments every day with guarantees I imagine so, yes, loads and loads of action online at WCOP over the summer.
Run it Once is One Year Old
Mike: In the new online poker room or I’m not even sure if we can call it new now, it’s just reached its one year birthday, Run It Once Poker, one year out in about live. Nick, what have been some of the highlights and things that people should know about the one year of operation of Run It Once?
Nick: It’s certainly been a tumultuous year for running one’s poker. I would say the one year anniversary mark, they’re in a much stronger position than they have been. I would say since they’ve really launched, they’ve got the best client that they’ve had, they’ve made some critical improvements over the last six months, a string of updates. They’ve become much more frequent, fixing a lot of bugs and adding some essential features. Does this set up along the way to go? Yes, but I think if you play it now and then you’ll certainly see a much improved product to a year ago.
Cash game traffic is almost an all-time high, it’s basically back to the real flurry of activity we saw in the first month of it going live, it’s back to those levels and pretty steady. Where it is today is very good, it’s certainly been a tough year getting to this point though.
Mike: Okay. We have two options here, we could look back at some of the highlights over the past year or we could look forward as to what might be coming. Which one do you want to do first?
Nick: I don’t want to spend too much time looking back I guess. I think after the initial flurry of activity, I think the clear problems and limitations of the client were thrust into the spotlight and the team spent the first six months just, I think, grinding away rather than work on fun, exciting features that they know they need to grow like a mobile client or Sit & Gos, they’re still not live today. They had to spend months and months, months fixing I think some pretty serious internal issues which slowed down their development pipeline a lot.
Initially, they had real problems with basic stuff like huge pauses between hands and unreliable client and then just adding basic things like hand histories, commitments that they made just took a really long time. Then during the summer, traffic slipped down to almost dormant levels and things looked pretty bleak but since around like September time, with the growing increase in online poker traffic season in any way, they’d done extremely well in terms of client updates, getting to that stable possession.
They made some important changes as well, like their rewards program, Splash the Pot was very cool when it first launched, but ultimately big grinders wanted weekly cashback and didn’t want to have to fight for their rewards programs. They made that change with the legends rewards program, that did very well and then we have the Phil Galfond Challenge, which Phil Galfond Challenge did not go according to plan, but in terms of site traffic only helped in really showing the platform off to other people and that really helped keep traffic up as well.
Mike: What is the current status of Phil’s challenge? I saw that he threw the towel in I believe, or did it end on schedule?
Nick: The last thing I checked, I haven’t seen anything in the last 24 hours, so I may be behind but the last thing that I saw was that he had put a pause to the challenge so I think the way it was is that they had an agreement that you can pause and skip a day and have to pay a fine to the other person of, a lot will say 6,000 but I was listening to the PocketFives Podcast, The Fives, and they said it was 3000, so maybe €3000 a day if you want to just skip a day and they already had I think the last week of this month booked off because one of them had travel plans so Phil down €900,000 after a third of the way through the challenge, something like that. It’s been an incredibly, even if he’s at a huge negative expected value, ten big blinds per 100 or something insane, that’s still running extremely bad.
I think most would agree now that probably Phil doesn’t have an edge in the game but even so, it’s still 80% bad luck. Down almost €1 million, he decided, “Okay, I’m going to pay the fine for the next six days. We then had our scheduled seven days off. That gives me time to really look back, reflect, and decide on whether I continue with a challenge or not, or just call it quits.”
Mike: Do we know who the next one up is? Is it Bill Perkins?
Nick: Yes. When I’ve looked at the order of play, the next one is Bill Perkins, thirst lounge game, which you definitely think would be an easier spot for him. It also has a cap on the maximum loss of one person, I think €400,000. I don’t think he literally can lose €900,000 in the Bill Perkins one. I think the worst-case scenario is losing the 400K and then paying a 400K side bet . I think he laid in four to one. 100K to Phil’s 400.
He can’t do worse in the next challenge, but is the Bill Perkins one but, of course, the schedule could always change. I guess I’m not sure Phil is locked into doing these other challenges. He might back out of all of them, but that has been pretty, pretty, pretty damn brutal for him but it did bring a lot of people to check out Run It Once, and it’s not like traffic has skyrocketed to the levels of Partypoker or 888, but in the evenings there are a bunch of tables running NL Hold’em and PLO.
Mike: Well, looking forward into year two for Run It Once, what are some of the things that we can expect? I know you mentioned that Sit & Gos, for example, is something that’s on their roadmap that they have yet to implement. Do you think we see that in year two or is that going to be a little bit further out?
Nick: It’s got to be year two. It’s meant to be their next update. I hope it’s very soon. I remember back something that Alex Scott said to us on our last special edition Pockerfuse Podcast, which if you haven’t listened to, you should definitely go and check out. It’s a few weeks back, you’ll find it in the archives, but a real wide-ranging chat. We talked about Run It Once briefly and he said, “I’m very impressed by how well they’ve done given how limited their potential subset of players is”. They don’t have a mobile client and they don’t have Sit & Go’s.That’s just such a smaller segment of the possible market.
The numbers really vary, but a lot of operators talk about, the vast majority of their customer acquisition, 70% plus come through mobile now and then, we know that in most markets, tournaments outstrip cash games by like 70%/ 30%. Just on the really crude format that, you could say like Run It Once, it literally got 30% of 30%, less than 10% of the market that the other operators work in. When you look at it that way, it’s really going to be a tough struggle for them.
Now, definitely mobile players aren’t going to be doing the volume of cash game of desktop players and people are going to transition from mobile to desktop. You can’t be that broad, but we can absolutely say with confidence that Run It Once have got a very small potential segment when they’re going up against the other operators. Until they’ve got a mobile client and Sit & Gos, they will always be struggling. They need Sit & Gos next. Absolutely. I really hope they are working on a good mobile client that launches on Android and iOS this year because again, if they don’t, just from a customer acquisition standpoint, they are always going to struggle.
Mike: What about MTTs? I know that MTTs are a bit trickier because they do require very high liquidity in order to be able to offer some of these big prize pools. Is that something that we expect to see in year two, or is that something that’s probably ways down the road, if on their roadmap at all?
Nick: They definitely need MTTs as well. I think even if obviously your guarantees never going to be what PokerStars, Partypoker, et cetera can advertise, just having €1,000 guaranteed Sunday tournament is enough to people to be like, “You know what, I like Run It Once”. That’d be a cool thing. I made sure I’m in on Sunday, or if I’m watching TV, I’ll fire up that tournament. See how well I do.”
Although their larger unibet poker, they’re four, five times larger. Pretty significant, maybe more, but they have a big slate of daily guaranteed MTTs, they’re very successful. I think it’s just a case of Sit & Gos are like MTTs but simpler. You start with the Sit & Gos and make sure they work.
Then the MTTs, you just have to add on your table, rebalancing and you have to add on final tables. You have to add on more complicated payout structures, maybe late registration, tournament breaks, scheduled tournament breaks, and then multi-day tourneys and phases and all that stuff. It’s just like start with the same go product, make sure that works.
Again, you can launch a single product with right, “ We’re just going to have €10 buy-in six max Hold’em Tournaments. “ J ust that and launch them and make sure they run. Then add in a €50, and then maybe multi-table. There’s a nice ramp up there. I hope once again Sit & Go’s going it’s a pretty simple ramp-up to the MTTs. 100% I think it needs to be on their roadmap for year two.
Mike: Then some things that may be beyond year two are things like spins or fast-fold games, yes?
Nick: Yes, they’re interesting ones because they could definitely make an argument that they don’t want them at all because they might consider them too damaging for the ecology of the player pool. Spins in that regard are very attractive. I think Unibet held back on them for a very long time but have been found a lot of success with their Hexapro products. They’ve have said to us in an interview that if they’d known how massive they would be, they absolutely would have launched them earlier. They were very hesitant worrying about liquidity issues.
Fast-fold’s interesting because Run It Once could have launched with fast-fold only. I think that’s an option because it’s a different poker experience but if you’re going basically fully anonymous anyway in terms of table rebalancing, it fixes the problems of tables constantly breaking and running. They opted not for that. I think you probably need quite a decent cash game liquidity to offer both at the same time, like blind lobbies and anonymous tables is like two or the three steps to fast-fold. In addition, it has you change plays every time. Run It Once does have where you can build up reads on people so you lose that out. Again the table balancing things.
I wonder if they add them at all, just because I feel like the decision was made not to go with them at the start, but definitely it’s something that we could potentially see. I think before the other game types, I think like, just from Phil and knowing his experience playing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he would like to add like mixed games in there, or some of the maybe Omaha 8 and stuff like that, where the game variants might be higher up on the list, but I’m purely speculating there.
Mike: From a development standpoint, do you think that that is more time-intensive than something like Sit & Gos or MTTs?
Nick: I think Sit & Gos and MTTs are probably a big hurdle to cross. My gut is adding in something like Omaha 8 or limit games, it’s probably less because probably the way they’ve designed like their poker logic, it would n’t be too hard to it, but just with Sit & Gos and MTTs, it’s new UI. That’s a lot more UI, you need tournament lobbies, you need to be able to register and unregister and all these extra user-facing stuff. Whereas when you’re out again—
Mike: Good point.
Nick: Yes, let’s say we just start again, Omaha Hi-Lo, from the user perspective it’s exactly the same. It’s just that some pots get split. It’s much more of a server thing than even adding in something like Seven-card stud. Okay, you need to be able to show up and down cards in front of the user. Again, it’s still mostly server logic. It’s the same buttons and all that.
The thing is, you have Sit & Gos and MTTs, they’ve got to come next. Even though it’s a bigger step. Mobile could be a huge undertaking depending on their code base and whether how much of that can be ported to mobile experiences, but again it has to be done. Even though it’s not low-hanging fruit, they’ve got to be plucking them from the tree regardless.
Mike: All right. Well, a big Happy Birthday to Run It Once Poker, turning one year old. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s in store for us for in year two.
Mike: Well, that wraps up this episode of the pokerfuse podcast. As a reminder, please give us a like and a subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow us and interact with us on Twitter. Nick is at @pokerprojones. I am @SpookyBugs. Thanks, everyone for tuning in.