Monday, October 10, 2005

Hey, I Have An MBA

The big news in the online poker world is Party decoupling their skins from their main base of players.  Otis and Bill Rini have posted about it already, with Otis having a potentially nightmarish situation on his hands.  Hopefully things will work out for him; I anticipate they will.

We can all exercise some caution about our online poker site choices.  One of the things I’ve told some co-workers whenever we’d talk about online poker is that I would try not to keep so much money on an online site that I couldn’t live without it should things disappear overnight.  Whenever my balance at one particular site crosses that threshold of “more than I’d feel comfortable losing,” I make a cashout.  I think most of us have Neteller accounts and holding a balance there may be more secure.  Certainly that’s debatable, however at this point, having money at Neteller is not illegal.  But because deposits from Neteller are near instantaneous, it doesn’t limit what I can do with my money, since reloading any poker site is quite easy.

The online poker “industry” is certainly approaching commodity level in a business sense very quickly.  There aren’t too many barriers to entry.  Most of the poker client and server software can be licensed and with a few hundred thousand dollar investment, some bandwidth and some customer support monkeys, launching an online poker site has never been easier.  (I say “easy,” but obviously it’s not, just easier in a relative sense than it was three years ago.)  Just take a peek in any recent CardPlayer magazine.  How many adds for poker sites are there now?  Twenty?  More?

From my perspective, the biggest asset any poker site has is their player base.  When there were only a few sites to choose from, maintaining a reliable player base was much easier.  Now, however, it’s no longer the case.  I don’t know for sure how many sites can be profitably supported by the current player base.  It may be less than what’s currently out there, which means that we will see some consolidation (Empire/Noble) and some companies that will go completely out of business.  That is most certainly a real risk we face.

As Otis mentions (as well as is stated on their print media ads), Pokerstars entrusts their player’s money with a third party.  Their player base is also quite large.  Those two items alone make Pokerstars an attractive site at which to play.  Please note that I am not affiliated with them, it is just an objective recommendation.

I also have some money at Full Tilt.  Their site has some additional games (read Razz) that I like to play and some nice promotions centered around playing with recognizable professionals.  I do not know how their player money is managed however; perhaps some of the other bloggers that work there can enlighten us.

Regardless of where you play, just remember to play it safe.  Things happen very quickly on the intarweb and it’s not totally unreasonable to believe you could lose your entire online bankroll in the blink of a bit.

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