Posts Tagged ‘Network’

Grand Poker Network Unavailable for Over a Month

 Grand Poker Network Unavailable for Over a Month

When people – lawmakers, in particular – argue against regulating online gambling, point them to stories like this to show them why it is needed. Lightly trafficked online poker network, the Grand Poker Network, has been offline for about five weeks without any real indication as to when – or even if – it will be back up and running. There may be a happy ending to come, but right now, things don’t look particularly good for the network’s players.

The Grand Poker Network is not a household name in poker. It is comprised of just a few sites: Grand Poker (also known as Dragon Room), VietBet.eu, 5Dimes.eu, Island Casino, and SportBet. Even when it was up, PokerScout listed it with fewer than 40 cash game players on most occasions.

According to ProfessionalRakeback.com, players began having trouble connecting to the network on November 5th, 2017. Conversations with customer service resulted in varied reasons for the issue: the network was down for maintenance, the network was switching servers and updating its software, or even that the network was closing.

Indications when trying to login were that the network and/or software was being “upgraded,” but those upgrades never arrived. This week, ProfessionalRakeback.com had a brief online chat with a customer support rep from VietBet, who said that the network would be returning, but other than that, had no information to offer.

One of the interesting things in this situation, as ProfessionalRakeback.com points out, is that the Grand Poker Network was founded by 5Dimes, which itself is a highly respected online sportsbook (it operates other gaming sites, but it is most known for its sportsbook). So the fact that this Grand Poker Network saga has been going on for over a month is quite strange.

It is almost certain that 5Dimes is losing money on the poker room and possibly on the network as a whole. Why 5Dimes started the network is unknown, but it could have been as an honest attempt to develop another revenue/profit stream, or simply as a loss leader, a way to expose poker players to its flagship sports betting business. The latter tends to work the other way around: sports books launch online poker rooms, trying to draw sports bettors over to the poker tables. This way, the site can keep more of its customers’ money – someone who wins in the sportsbook may take the winnings over to the poker room and win or lose, the site generates rake from the winnings it paid the customer on the sports side.

I suspect the poker room/network was a genuine attempt at another revenue stream, as using it as a loss leader doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. 5Dimes has a well-established sportsbook, so pulling a handful of poker players over to sports betting wouldn’t be worth the expense and effort of developing a new poker room and/or poker network.

The fear among poker players on the Grand Poker Network right now is probably that the network is going to disappear with their money and is just stringing them along right now while management figures out how to best remove themselves from view. But we don’t know that to be the case – especially because of the reputation of 5Dimes – so unfortunately, everyone is just going to have to stand by until further developments reveal themselves.

The post Grand Poker Network Unavailable for Over a Month appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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iPoker Network Withdraws from Poland

 iPoker Network Withdraws from Poland

The iPoker Network has withdrawn all of its member sites from the Polish online gaming market in response to new gambling regulations that took effect on April 1st. Some sites, like William Hill and bet365, already left the market in March, but now it is everybody. Things like this have been happening more and more over the last couple years, but word is that some of the poker rooms didn’t even warn their customers in advance, leaving many people searching for alternatives.

Online poker had not technically been legal prior to the new regulations – only the lottery and online sports betting were allowed – but clearly sites were operating in Poland. Polish regulators to “diversify” the local market with the new laws, and by legalizing online casino games, poker, and bingo, as well as allowing poker tournaments to be held outside of casinos, it did to some extent, but all is not quite as it seems. The state-controlled gambling monopoly, Totalizator Sportowy, is the only entity permitted to operate online casino, poker, and bingo games.

Now, even with that, the iPoker Network might have tried to remain in the country, as most of its rooms do have online sports books. It would have been possible for the sites to apply for licenses. But it seems likely that the final deciding factor on the exit from Poland is the nutty tax law in place for online gaming.

Regulations stipulate that an online gaming operator be taxed at 12 percent of annual turnover, a calculation that is essentially insanity. Typically, operators are taxed based on gross gaming revenue, essentially how much money the site brings in from bettors minus how much it pays out. Turnover, on the other hand, is how much players bet without taking into consideration how much of that turns into actual revenue for the site or how much is returned to players in winnings.

At one point, it was suggested to make that number 20 percent, which would have been simply astronomical. For most small operators, it is not worth seeking a license with the current tax rate. The Polish government has said that it would take another look at the tax issue in the future, but who knows if that will happen. Online gaming operator bwin (not part of the iPoker Network) seems to be counting on that, as it applied for a gaming license this month.

In the meantime, sites and networks are deciding what to do. There is always the option to flaunt the law and just keep operating in Poland without a license, though it remains to be seen who might take that step. The government has said that it will start blocking unlicensed domains as well as their payment methods by July 1st, but steps like that haven’t always worked very well in other jurisdictions.

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Winning Poker Network Moves to Weighted Contributed Rake Calculation

 Winning Poker Network Moves to Weighted Contributed Rake Calculation

Just as people like to make changes to their lives and get a “fresh start” when the calendar page turns from December to January, so, often, do online poker rooms. The Winning Poker Network (WPN) announced Monday that starting today, January 3rd, 2017, its member rooms will adjust how raked hands are counted in order to calculate loyalty points. Gone is the “dealt hand” system and in is the “weighted contributed” method.

In the previous, dealt hand method of calculating rake and loyalty points, rake in a cash game pot was attributed to every player who was simply dealt cards. For instance, if five players were dealt hole cards – regardless of how many players were actually seated (some could have been sitting out) – and the pot grew large enough to generate one dollar in rake, twenty cents in rake would be attributed to each player. This amount would then be used to determine how many loyalty points players earned, which is useful for things like VIP status levels and releasing bonuses.

During the poker boom of about a decade ago, most online poker rooms and networks used the dealt hand method. It was fantastic for tight players like me or for players (also like me), who shuttled around to different poker rooms to take advantage of deposit bonuses. As the years have gone on, though, most rooms have switched to the weighted contributed method, as WPN is finally doing now.

In the weighted contributed method, poker players must actually put money in the pot to be given credit for any rake generated. This “contribution,” as it were, can be voluntary as in a bet or raise, or can be involuntary, as in the small blind or big blind. Those who fold pre-flop and are not in a blind will not have any rake attributed to them as they were in the dealt hand method. Additionally, the rake attributed to each player is based on how much money they put into the pot compared to the other players, hence the “weighted” part of the phrase.

Using the same example from above, say there were five players dealt cards in a hand that generated one dollar in rake. Two early position players called pre-flop, the button folded, the small blind called, and big blind checked. Thus, four players contributed to the pot. If everyone checked down all the way to showdown, they all contributed the same amount and would therefore each be attributed with 25 cents rake.

The calculations change depending on how much money players contribute. If two of the players fold on the flop and two others keep betting through the river, those two that stay in the hand longer will have contributed more and will be given credit for more rake.

Clearly, this method is terrible for tight players who like to fold, fold, fold their way through a session, but is great for more aggressive players. It is also good for the poker rooms, as it encourages action, driving up pots, and increasing rake.

The switch to the weighted contributed method is inconsequential when it comes to tournaments, as it is the tournament fee that matters there; there is no rake per pot in a tourney.

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Is the 24-Hour Poker Network Poker Central Shutting Down?

 Is the 24 Hour Poker Network Poker Central Shutting Down?

Since it was founded in late 2015, the television channel Poker Central has been trying to find their way in a very difficult broadcasting world. Now news is emerging that, by the end of December, the channel allegedly may shut down its cable network broadcasting outlet.

Per Kent Gibbons at Broadcasting and Cable Magazine, Poker Central has been having some difficulty getting on various broadcasting outlets around the country. The network had a partnership with Buckeye Broadband to broadcast the network in the Ohio region, but other outlets were either not willing to jump on board or were waiting until after the new year to go live with the channel (according to sources from Gibbons). Up to this time (and without the other programmers offering the network), the network had been doing decently reaching its fans through their Twitch channel and various streaming devices such as the Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Apparently that wasn’t enough for those in charge of the network, including major investor/poker professional Cary Katz. The decision was made, according to Gibbons, by Katz to end the broadcast schedule on December 31 and it caught many of those in positions of responsibility by surprise. Gibbons could not even confirm the shutdown of Poker Central with the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Clint Stinchcomb (a former World Poker Tour executive), and many others were reportedly “disappointed” with the decision, according to Gibbons.

A press release from earlier in 2016 may have been the indicator that this move was coming. Back in September,  a press release announced the expansion of their digital (re:  online) product, partially because of their success on Twitch and partially to give their viewers what they want. “Poker Central is wildly popular with poker fans, who want the freedom to enjoy our content when, where and how they want” said Joe Kakaty, the president of Poker Central, during that press announcement. “We found an almost insatiable appetite for live poker and are investing in new studios in both New York and Las Vegas to feed it. Poker fans will love our full slate of live fast-action poker and our fantastic daily content offerings.”

Another member of the Poker Central hierarchy, Vice President of Content Sam Simmons, echoed Kakaty. “When our early access to the initial hours of the Super High Roller Bowl shattered Twitch records, we decided to embrace our audience’s preferred viewing habits,” commented in the press release.  “This means access to poker programming on the platforms of their choice, while expanding our live TV broadcasts by partnering with several fully distributed networks.”

Now it seems that those other “fully distributed networks” and the live television broadcasts are out the window. What will become of some of their broadcasting remains to be seen. In the September press release, it was mentioned that such programming as Pokerography (think A&E’s Biography, only about poker players) and the previously mentioned Super High Roller Bowl will be a part of their digital future. It was also mentioned that they would be mixed with “other live events, scheduled episodic web series, daily short-form news and edgy content that’s ideal for today’s consumption habits.”

What wasn’t mentioned expressly in the September press release or by Gibbons is the future of Inside Poker with Matt Savage or even Live at the Bike. The Savage program would delve into discussions with the major power brokers in the poker world (and some players would get in occasionally also), while LATB, the longtime cash game broadcast of live action from the Bicycle Casino in California, was looking to make its jump from just being an internet sensation to being broadcast across the country to fans. These programs may be a part of the digital future of the Poker Central offerings, but it wasn’t declared outright.

If the network is truly leaving, then it is unfortunate. Many attempts have been made at a 24/7 poker channel, both internationally and in the States of America, and it seems that there isn’t quite the audience to drive the bottom line for the programming. While having Poker Central as a digital outlet on Twitch or over the internet, it isn’t the same as sitting down in your chair to watch it in your living room on the HDTV.

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DFS iTeam Network Shutting Down

 DFS iTeam Network Shutting Down

Another daily fantasy sports (DFS) site – or should we say sites, plural – bites the dust. The iTEAM Network announced yesterday that it is shutting down. Customers of the network’s sites should not have anything to fear, though, as a network representative confirmed to LegalSportsReport.com that player funds were kept separate from operating funds (as they should have been) and everyone will be able to cash out just fine.

This is just another example of a small DFS operator having trouble competing. DraftKings and FanDuel are the two monsters of the industry, owning more than 90 percent of the pie, so trying to push that rock up the mountain is not easy for just about anyone else except for maybe Yahoo!. When the two big boys have guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contests with total prize pools well into the six-figure and even seven-figure range, it is tough to attract players to contests that might max out in the low six-figure range, if that.

This writer personally has enjoyed the smaller sites, but of course, one that I played at went under and the other stopped offering services to most states. Small DFS sites present an interesting dilemma. For many players, smaller GPP’s don’t necessarily matter; just like in poker, not everyone plays big tournaments. The question for some in deciding whether or not to sign up with a small site is not so much player traffic, but the level of competition. On the one hand, small sites often have very soft competition, as the best players go for the top prizes at DraftKings and FanDuel. On the other hand, it is often only the most dedicated DFS players that hear about these sites (ever see one advertise on ESPN?), so the competition can sometimes be quite stiff.

DraftKings and FanDuel recently announced that they have agreed to merge, pending regulatory approval, in 2017. This sounds terrible for the smaller DFS providers, but they do have hope that a couple things could happen that would actually help them. First, the legal environment for daily fantasy in the United States is full of terrors and so far, it has been the two industry leaders who have fought the battles. Their combination could help clear the way for their competitors, who couldn’t otherwise afford the lobbying and legal costs. Second, a significant percentage of DraftKings and FanDuel customers have accounts on both sites. After the merger, they will need to seek out other sites if they want to keep some diversity in their play. Enter the smaller competitors to scoop up some of that action.

The iTEAM Network made headlines in early 2016 when poker pro Phil Ivey announced that he was going to launch a site on the network. PhilIveyDFS, as it was called, never went anywhere. Dan Bilzerian also had a site on the network.

The iTEAM Network looked like it was making inroads in the hardcore DFS community, as one of its sites, Rosters.com, has been involved in promotional partnerships with Rotogrinders.com, the leading DFS hub and strategy site, but obviously any success it may have had couldn’t save the network.

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