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Poker: The Next Big Wave

By Daniel Michaels, May 20th 2005
The trend has been accelerating for the past two years or more - online poker in specialised Internet rooms using a diversity of both familiar and lesser known, purpose-built software suites.

Well known turnkey industry names like Real Time Gaming, Microgaming and iGlobal are all active in the burgeoning poker room sector, with the top firms offering increasingly sophisticated multi-player and multi-table gambling to their operators.

The latter is particularly important because it makes large tournaments worth millions of dollars possible and these are used as a major attraction for generating more action. However, multi-table capability is pretty much confined to the top sites, giving them an edge in a market that is becoming more competitive by the day.

In an online casino industry that for a variety of reasons seems to be contracting or at least consolidating, a new and dynamic direction for online gambling is particularly welcome - especially one where ring games can generate wagers worth $42 million over a 24 hour period..

Constituting a potential online market with enormous potential in the USA alone, an estimated 40 million to 50 million Americans play non-Internet Poker recreationally, according to the World Poker Tour and other sources.

Thanks to extensive and positive media coverage, poker has quickly become a major cultural pastime as one of Western pop culture's top recreational fads. And Internet players who have made it big in the real world such as Chris Moneymaker who is a world champion are great role models.

The experts and historians tell us that despite its present day cachet, poker includes elements of the Persian game Nas, Indian Ganjifa, French Poque and German Pochen, and is believed by many to have originated in Louisiana sometime in the early 1800s.

It is said that the critical mass for real success in the online poker space is between two to three thousand players, when business begins to rapidly snowball and growth accelerates exponentially. Party Poker can boast between 4 500 and 5 000 players simultaneously on-site every evening, developing tremendous excitement, games and table choices, and improving retention rates on newbie visitors. Their specially built iGlobal poker room software is reported to have the capability to handle between 500 and a thousand ten seat tables - bigger than most if not all land poker rooms, and was recently selected by the Intertops group for their foray into online poker.

Although the new poker marketers trawl online casino players for new customers, their sights are mainly fixed on sportsbook betters who are happy with computer and internet technology. The reason for this is that a considerable proportion of sports betters - up to seventy percent - know how to play poker and enjoy it.

The offline poker player is also an appealing target audience, and this is likely to grow as more technology-oriented generations "graduate" to the pleasure and convenience of internet poker playing.

Among the current "heats" being played is a tournament that will send a number of players to the World Poker tournaments at land casinos like the Borgata in Vegas, where the winners are given extensive sponsorship to the World Series and can duke it out with the best in the world...land and online. Prima is also getting into the celebrity stakes by signing deals with respected international poker experts like Andy Glazer and The Hendon Mob.

One of the Prima core marketing messages really sums up the unique opportunities afforded by the internet, and that is a worldwide network of more than twenty top sites where players can get online anytime and find someone, often in another country across the world, to play against.

Dominant regional market for the new wave of online gambling is the USA (35 percent), with Canada next followed by Europe which is reported to be growing rapidly. Around 85 percent of poker players are male and their favourite game by a long way is Texas Hold 'Em. Australians like to play a poker variant called Manila, and most online poker rooms offer at least five different styles of poker.

Networks make it possible for online pokerheads to get together and play against other fans of the game (instead of a computer dealer) when they feel like it - the bigger the network the more action at any time of the day or night, especially where the network is international in nature. More tables gives more games choice, too and the added excitement of tournament play with big rewards.

Recent innovations in the sector include celebrity sites, where celebrities are contracted to play at the site and interact with the players. Plans to expand this may include the organisation of major events where members can physically meet with other members and celebrity greats. Notoriety can be a celebrity bonus, too - Celebpoker.com has signed Nick Leesom, who's claim to fame is that of the rogue trader who brought about the downfall of Barings Bank .

For the online poker novitiate, the main difference is that the cards are on your computer screen instead of in your hand, but the game controls are easy to understand and are literally at your finger tips. With the better softwares you have access to your immediate playing history and statistics, empowering you to analyse your play and improve on it.

Most importantly, the huge advances in technology enable you to play what you want, when you want to and against other poker players across the globe...and all from the comfort and convenience of your own home!

Related News
May 20th 2005 For Senior Citizens: - Why Gambling On The Internet is Good For
May 20th 2005 Websites hoping to cash in with poker win
May 20th 2005 Understanding the Table Comping System

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