Poker Flops, Part II
In our original Poker Flops article, we described three poker ideas that appeared promising but ended up falling short of their hype. This week, we'll feature three more flops.
Party Poker Monster
It was marketed on taxi cabs, billboards, television, and all over the internet. "It's Coming!" is all Party Poker would tell the world regarding their Monster promotion. For weeks, poker enthusiasts endured the ambiguous marketing while waiting to see exactly what type of Monster was coming. With a mountain of hype and anticipation in place, Party Poker announced the details of its Monster promotion: a series of freerolls stretched out over the course of ten months, concluding with a final tournament that was initially seeded with a prize pool of $5,000,000. Over $10,000,000 was scheduled to be given out through freerolls before the final tournament even got started.
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By taking an extra $.50 rake from all "Monster Jackpot" cash game tables, which immediately far outnumbered the regular tables at Party Poker, the prize pool for the final tournament ballooned like a networked progressive slot machine jackpot. The razzmatazz surrounding the Monster was working. Just a mere three weeks after its unleashing, the prize pool for the final tournament had already grown past $7,000,000. The jackpot was on track to exceed $30,000,000! To put that number into perspective, the most important online tournament of the year, considered by all serious players as the world championship of online poker, had a prize pool of just $6,275,000 last year.
After the passing of the UIGEA, you can not help but think that Party Poker's executives must have felt like Joe Pesci's character in Casino, lamenting over their fall from king to pawn, "It should'a been so sweet, too!" The Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, championed by Senator Bill Frist, resulted in many online poker rooms no longer accepting US players.
As a publicly traded company, Party Poker was forced to close its doors to the country that fueled more than 75% of their player base. In a statement released after the passing of the bill, Party Poker said, "Unfortunately, the structure of the PartyPoker.com Monster tournament makes it untenable to continue [should we close our doors to American players]." Players that had won Monster seats were compensated by receiving the cash value of each seat they had won to a Monster freeroll.
Since the explosion in popularity of online poker, many online poker rooms have popped up out of the woodwork hoping to get in on the action. It is no secret that there is a lot of money to be made through running a successful online poker room. Unfortunately, a successful online poker room relies on more than just the "if you build it, they will come" theory.
One example of this Field of Dreams mentality gone awry was an upstart poker room named Poker Mountain. In 2005, Poker Mountain launched its site with the hottest player in the world, Daniel Negreanu, as an endorser. In addition to Negreanu, poker legend T.J. Cloutier was also exclusively backing the site. Poker Mountain did a great job securing world class pros to endorse their company, but they forgot to provide users a quality software product. Each night dozens of poker players would line-up for a chance to play with Negreanu or Cloutier. However, chronic software problems ended any chance the site had of becoming a major competitor in the online poker world. Rather than shelling out money for high quality poker software, Poker Mountain decided to cut corners and build their own software with an under-qualified in-house crew.
After several instances of malfunctioning software, Poker Mountain decided it would launch a series of no-strings-attached freerolls as an apology to its player base. However, in almost comical fashion, each and every one of the freerolls had to be cancelled after Poker Mountain's software malfunctioned in the middle of each tournament.
Shortly after this dilemma, Daniel Negreanu announced he would no longer be endorsing Poker Mountain but supported them by saying, "They are hoping to be ready to launch the new software within the month as far as I know. I feel very comfortable in saying that Poker Mountain will give you a lot of bang for your buck and you should definitely check out the new software when it's ready." That comment was made nearly a year and a half ago. To this day Poker Mountain's website informs us they are still "renovating" their site.
Poker Players Alliance
The Poker Players Alliance was formed to further the interests of American poker players. The one issue most important to American poker players in 2006 was blocking any Congressional attempt to ban internet gambling. While the Poker Players Alliance lobbied against the UIGEA, it ultimately proved too weak to stop the bill from passing.
The Poker Players Alliance was a good idea that came too late. Had the organization been formed three or four years ago, it may have mustered a large enough membership base to be taken seriously by Congressional representatives. Instead, it was viewed by many as a small, makeshift organization that was really just a front for lobbying by online poker rooms.
Membership in the Poker Players Alliance has soared recently due to the UIGEA. Many angered poker players are joining the organization hoping to reverse the law. Currently, the PPA is fighting to get poker excluded from the UIGEA, just like horse racing and fantasy sports currently are.
Unfortunately, this is a near impossibility and most likely a waste of the group's efforts.
Americans can hope for limited enforcement of the UIGEA and eventually legalization and regulation of online poker at the state level. However, you're more likely to flop a royal flush at the final table of the WSOP than see a repeal of the UIGEA or a poker exclusion from the bill anytime soon.