I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Legal online poker started today.

UltimatePoker started online poker for real money today. The bad news is this is only for people in Nevada. UltimatePoker is a subsidiary of Station Casinos. Why in the world would they choose this name? Did they not know that Ultimate Bet was involved in a huge cheating scandal and ripped off thousands of players? What's next, Bernie Madoff Mutual Funds? Well, I wanted to review this software for you all, but the first thing I saw when signing up was that I would have to provide my Social Security Number in order to verify my identity. Are you kidding me? I am going to hand over my SSN to Station Casinos? I know for video poker players, and slot players this is no big deal, but for an advantage player worried about protecting his identity? Forget it!

Personally, I can't see traveling to Las Vegas, and sitting in my hotel room playing online poker. And you can't do this on a netbook because the software requires a bigger screen resolution. I am thrilled that the first crack in the dike is here for legal online gambling. I am eagerly anticipating the day when we can play all casino games on the net, in every state. But for now I will pass.


Fred said...

Here's a quick review of the issues. All of these are negatives, since the only positive I see is that you can cash in or out at any Station Casinos property.

Here goes:

1) There are no play money tables. I don't know if this is a regulatory issue or not, but that is going to be a major marketing hurdle since the play money tables let people get familiar with their tables, and enable them to build a community of players. Without free tables I'm not sure that any of the major offshore sites would have been as successful as they were.

2) The registration process is far more invasive than any offshore poker site. I'm not sure how many poker players want to give their social security number, name, address, cell phone number, and date of birth to a casino. Even if they were to offer the play money tables mentioned in #1 above, the information being asked for would likely hinder most registrations.

3) The interface is so-so at best.

4) I am in Reno and the software believes I am not in Nevada about half the time.

5) Anything external to the games themselves (deposit, account status, etc) opens in an Internet Explorer window - even if you have another browser set as your default browser. That is annoying because IE is, has been, and always will be very buggy. During registration, I encountered 2 "script error" messages from within IE.

6) As of this writing (11:05 pm on 5/2/13), there are ~150 cash players online. Considering the above issues, I consider that a miracle. But with so few players, you simply won't find the liquidity you will at offshore poker sites.

7) As far as I can tell, there is no Rakeback option, and I would imagine that there would be regulatory issues with them if there were. I am also curious if they will even be allowed to offer affiliate commissions or deposit bonuses for driving players to them.

So, in a nutshell, it's not a good overall experience right now. Some of it is regulatory, and some of it is laziness on the part of the company. I am a software engineer, and I could create the poker client they are using in a weekend by myself. I'm guessing that they spent millions on theirs, and that there are some very happy engineers who got paid tons of money for almost nothing.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if state regulators decided that they would bludgeon Station Casinos into gathering SSNs and all that other personal information? Or if Station Casinos decided on their own that a little gratuitous snooping might have benefits to them down the road? Certainly the information isn't necessary for the purpose of generating CTRs, because there aren't going to be any cash transactions.