Random Thoughts: Rumor Mill Edition
It's time for another edition of Random Thoughts featuring brief commentary about a variety of subjects in the poker world. Let's begin...
Last week, PokerListings published an op-ed suggesting that PokerNews, the largest poker news portal, could be bought out by PokerStars. The article pointed to signs that PokerNews is struggling financially. The site is said to be owed substantial money by Full Tilt Poker and has now resorted to running AshleyMadison.com ads for revenue.
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Why would a PokerStars buyout of PokerNews matter? It essentially represents another major step towards PokerStars consolidating the online poker industry. They would turn the largest poker news source into a dynamic advertisement for themselves. PokerStars is a great product, but if they scoop up the most visited poker information site, it will become important for to seek out information from less-biased sites.
Speaking of PokerStars and their battle to take over the online poker world, there are some recent signs that their quest could soon face a major rival. Facebook social gaming app developer Zynga is currently taking bids from online gaming software developers in order to form a partnership to branch into the real-money online gaming world. Zynga's stock has been battered since debuting last December (it's down 67%). The company is now scrambling to right the ship.
With more than 30 million users to their Texas Hold'em Poker app, Zynga lurks as a powerful potential rival to PokerStars. Many anticipate Zynga will attempt to operate in the future regulated market in the U.S., but there's nothing stopping them from operating in places like the U.K. right now. With the pressures of answering to shareholders that a public company endures, it wouldn't be surprising to see Zynga join the fray of real-money poker providers sooner rather than later.
Regarding the future of online poker in terms of which sites will control the market, 'SwoopAE' made the following prediction in our poker forums, "Party Poker will die a slow miserable death from mismanagement as 888 Poker becomes the consensus #2 poker site over the next year or two. Then Zynga launches and becomes the new #1 if they do it right, Stars takes Tilt's position as the #2 and 888 becomes the #3 with Ongame and Party and iPoker sinking further into irrelevance."
For the most part, we can endorse Swoop's prediction. We gave Party Poker a C- in our post-Black Friday online poker grades. They recently made a controversial decision to ban high stakes games in order to boost player liquidity. But the writing on the wall is clear, they are struggling to maintain market share while 888 Poker is kicking butt. 888 Poker now only marginally trails Party Poker in terms of active player base according to PokerScout.com. Five years ago, it was unimaginable that 888 Poker could one day surpass Party, but that day is nearly here.
More rumors of a PokerStars, Full Tilt sale surfaced last week when a respected poker journalist reported that an "impeccable source" of hers said the deal was complete. For the umpteenth time, the poker world was turned into a frenzy of excitement on hopes that the $390 million stuck on Full Tilt would be reunited with its owners. However, for now, there is no official word from PokerStars of a completed deal so the rumors remain just that, rumors. Creators of the poker comic The Micros posted an appropriate cartoon of a player with cash stuck on Full Tilt resorting to putting a gun to his head as a result of exhaustion from hearing too many rumors of a sale.
Did anyone happen to see PokerNews creator and poker pro Tony G accompanying the Lithuanian athletes into the stadium during the Olympic opening ceremony? Here's a pic in case you missed it. He's the one that doesn't look anything like an athlete.
With the Olympics in full swing, it's an appropriate time to remind some people in the poker world that poker is not a sport. Can we just let notions that poker should be included in the Olympics die please?