"We Benefited From Waiting": Relax Gaming's Martin Stalros on HexaPro's Success

In the world of online poker, the Unibet Poker platform offers one of the more modern poker playing experiences. Incorporating features that are proliferating through the industry, the Unibet client was designed with the end user in mind giving it a look and feel that sets it apart from more traditional online poker software.

With features such as a blind lobby, anonymous tables and a ban on third party software tools, Unibet has continued to blaze the trail started by some of its predecessors that caters more to the recreational poker enthusiast than the high volume poker grinders.

We benefited from waiting, it gave the format time to settle and for us to create a fully evolved and optimized version.While Unibet has been an early adopter with some of its features, it has chosen to be a late adopter in other areas. Perhaps most notable has been its approach to lottery-style Sit & Gos.

In the following excerpt from an interview with Martin Stalros, COO of Relax Gaming, the company responsible for the development of the Unibet Poker platform, Stalros provides some insight into the strategy behind the development of HexaPro and how future development may be impacted by regulations in markets around the world.

The full interview is featured in The State of the Online Poker Industry Spring 2019 by Poker Industry PRO, a 52-page report detailing the major industry trends and regulatory developments and analyzing several of the traits that are expected to have a significant impact on the the performance of the leading online poker operators and the immediate future of online poker.

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Relax have been cautious in adopting certain features, particularly jackpot Sit & Gos. Obviously Unibet has a smaller player pool, so liquidity will always be a concern, but were there other factors that played into delaying its launch?

While we welcome market regulation, it definitely creates some complexities in product delivery. Back in 2013, I was already a convert to the game format, but the reality was adding another bespoke component to the software just wasn’t a priority. Rightly, I believe, we wanted to optimize the product we had, assess performance, and make improvements. The focus was to get the fundamentals right, then look to innovation once the core was cemented, proven, and building a following.

Then, it was on the roadmap for some time, but as others continually adopted the format, we decided that not being first to market meant success was dependent on striving to deliver something better than the competition.

We benefited from waiting, it gave the format time to settle and for us to create a fully evolved and optimized version. We focused on creating the most exciting version available, which you can see in how we handle the pre-game lottery, the all-in situations, and the prize distribution.

I’m very proud of our version and believe we made some significant improvements to what is already a strong and entertaining game format. So far, the results give me confidence that my instinct is right. We have beaten our quite high expectations already, and I can’t wait to see how it continues to develop with the pipeline of developments we still want to deliver.

Relax Gaming recently announced it was launching in the French market. It follows a launch into various European markets including Denmark and Sweden. How does country-by-country regulation throw in extra challenges and restrictions in product development?

While we welcome market regulation, it definitely creates some complexities in product delivery. In some jurisdictions, the regulations are written with casino in mind, so applying them directly to poker throws up additional challenges. It adds weight to why we’re focused on having both a modern and a dynamic platform to deal with future requirements and new markets.

Overall though, it’s fantastic to see the movement in both Europe and the US with some regulatory clarity. We are definitely moving in the right direction, and it’ll be interesting to see the sector’s evolution over the coming decade.

The State of the Online Poker Industry: Spring 2019 is available to all Poker Industry PRO customers. Non-subscribers can contact [email protected] for further information about obtaining a copy of the report and learning more about the leading data analytics platform dedicated to understanding the online poker industry.