On Wednesday, two-time EPT champion Vicky Coren-Mitchell announced her departure as a Team PokerStars Pro due to the company making the decision to offer casino style gaming. Some will claim that her departure was some grand statement that PokerStars should listen to. Personally, I believe it was a bit short sighted considering that all PokerStars was doing was opening up their site to a market that may not come to their site otherwise.
Poker is Too Involved for the Average Gambler
The typical recreational gambler does not frequent the poker room because it’s a bit too involved. They’re not going to be a multi-tabling machine that has studied advanced poker theory and is trying to maximize his or her hourly rate.
Your typical recreational gambler wants faced paced games with a huge potential and bets they can control. They don’t want to analyze every single hand. They don’t want to bother with psychoanalysis of their opponents. They want games that are quick, easy, flashy and have a huge upside.
Poker, when played correctly, can be a boring game and is very involved. It is not a game that you can sit down, play a couple of hands, and hit a jackpot. Poker is work and your average gambler wants quick, easy and fun. If they want to work, they’d go back to their job.
Online Poker Needs Casino Gaming in the United States
While Coren may not approve of PokerStars move, she admitted that online casino games are a product that is desired by many players. Taking a look at legalized online gambling in the United States, it is clear that casino games are not only desired but necessary for providers to stay profitable.
New Jersey is a great example of the appetite of the American gambler. Online poker attributes for a bit under 25% of revenue collected in the state through October 2014. Nevada online poker has been on shaky ground in recent months, falling off nearly 40% since pulling in over $1 million in July. Nevada’s combined online poker revenue in October was 665,000. New Jersey’s lowest earner in October was Betfair and they drew $855.869 with online table games.
The recent closure of Ultimate Gaming was due in part to the lack of profitability in Nevada, an online poker only state. In New Jersey, Borgata is already claiming that their online venture is turning a profit. Online poker only attributes to 35.38% of their gaming win in 2014.
Online poker will not survive on its own until an interstate market of reasonable size is developed. At the present rate of legalization in this country, that could be many years off. Until that happens, online poker will need a symbiotic relationship with casino games should providers hope to become profitable in the developing years of the U.S. iGaming industry.
No Such Thing as Pure Poker
Coren-Mitchell stated that maybe in the future she would be able to work with the company on something that is pure poker. My question to her is what do you mean by pure poker? The modern day online poker site is no longer “pure poker.” There are elements on every site that actually lean towards, if not cross completely into, gambling.
Turbo tournaments cut down on the skill factor due to the fast-paced blind structure. PokerStars “Spin & Go” tournaments incorporate a lottery element to determine the prize pool and then players compete in a three-handed hyper-turbo Sit & Go.
Flipout tournaments and Kamikaze Sit & Go’s are two great examples of “poker” tournaments that are partially or entirely luck based. Flipout tournaments are pure luck to start with and then the final table is played out. You gamble to get to the final table and then move on.
Every online poker site has elements that lean towards gambling. The game is always evolving and companies have to evolve to keep players coming back. Companies have to find a balance to keep recreational players involved and feeling like they have a chance. It may not be ideal for poker purists, but it is the reality of the modern day poker industry.