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Online poker review
Nowadays the top online poker sites tend to be the specialist online bookmakers such as Bet365 Poker, who are part of the largest and best poker network. These firms have mastered the seamless and immediate deposit and payout methods as well as using their huge customer service department to ensure their online poker players always have someone to refer to if necessary.
It was not always like that. Prior to 2000, bricks and mortar poker was largely ignored. It was regarded as a game played by old men who smelt of smoke and poker was only seen on television in a spaghetti western cowboy film. However it was the birth and growth of online poker that gave the game the biggest shot since August 1876 when Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down holding aces and eights (the dead man's hand).
Online poker was first born in 1997, but as with so many online disciplines, not all the front runners were to profit from their ground-breaking foresight and hard work. We have heard of first mover advantage. Well there also exists such a thing as first mover disadvantage. Do all the hard work and then get left behind by those companies who follow on the road you lovingly built with blood and tears.
One of those early movers was a site called Planet Poker. They had it all in 1998 but they subsequently lost out in the fickle world of online poker sites and now no longer exist as a cash money site. They went from 100% of the online poker market share to no share at all.
One firm that did see it through is Party Poker. However they too have suffered in the face of competition. By 2005 this famous poker site had a massive 50% of the online poker turnover. Now they are at just six percent. Nevertheless they have at least increased their turnover if not their share and they are a respected Plc rather than a shady outfit owned by a bunch of friends. It would be a big ask to have stayed at 50% given the competition they have faced from all the top bookmakers such as the excellent Bet365 and the commendable Victor Chandler Poker. The European-facing Bwin Poker is worth mentioning in dispatches.
So why has it been all-change in the online poker sites world? There are a few factors at work. One significant seismic shift was caused by the tightening of the regulatory prohibition in the USA. This saw the likes of Paradise Poker lose out big time. Most of their market share was down to an American clientele, which they had to switch off. The founders of Paradise Poker could afford a chuckle as they had sold at the height of that poker site's success, 2004, to Sportingbet for a tasty-looking $300million. No, that figure is not a misprint. So it was Sportingbet who was left holding the baby after the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act meant they had to stop dodging the bullets from the American authorities and wave the white flag instead.
Other changes in the power of the movers and shakers of the online poker world are down to spending power. Those who spent early on advertising gained market share, this is where Party Poker did well. We won't mention their early inventive advertising on porn sites, a business one of the five Party Poker founders was involved in.
The final major factor is software. Those who developed the best poker sites software are doing the best. This is where the iPoker Network, run by software company Playtech, has done very well. Their market share is circa 6% but within the UK particularly this figure would be many times higher, where they are presented by firms such as Bet365 Poker and Betfred Poker.
If we learn anything from the history of online poker, it is that the future will be hard to predict. The only certainty is that the winners and losers will be swapping places. The landscape is such that a small company can make huge inroads in the online poker sites market if they achieve in terms of technology and marketing and combine that with a neat sixth sense as to how the regulatory rules are going to play out.
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