Second-Rate Products from US Poker Sites Setting the Industry Back

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The early reviews are in for South Point’s Real Gaming online poker room, and it’s pretty safe to say that the launch was a disappointment on every level.

Let me add that I’m not trying to single out Real Gaming. This has been a major problem in the newly-launched US markets.

But back to Real Gaming.

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and the impression left by Real Gaming may have not just damaged but may have utterly destroyed the company’s chances of becoming a viable online poker option in Nevada.

Bad software and early glitches

Real Gaming’s software has been described by several people I have talked to as falling somewhere between subpar and unplayable, and the site even had to pull their Sit & Go tournaments for an unspecified reason on Wednesday.

I don’t expect perfection, but when you’ve had two years to develop your product I do expect something that passes as modern technology.

These test launch periods are for the state, not for your software – these types of issues should already have been tested internally.

Ultimate Poker dodges another haymaker

Real Gaming’s head-shaking rollout also allowed their most vulnerable competitor to fade another river card.

Ultimate Poker has been losing ground and players to in Nevada ever since launched.

But fortunately for Ultimate Poker, was their only competition, so if players were unhappy with for any reason they had no choice but to play at Ultimate Poker.

Of course, that’s no longer the case, as Real Gaming became the third online poker room in Nevada last Wednesday, but it’s still the case because Real Gaming isn’t a viable playing option.

All Real Gaming (or any other provider for that matter) had to do was launch with a superior product to UP’s (which doesn’t seem like a difficult task) and UP players would have at the least taken the site for a test run.

Instead Real Gaming launched with a vastly inferior product compared to Ultimate Poker, which is almost hard to imagine considering the criticism UP has taken.

This is good news for Ultimate Poker – a company that I really like and think has a chance to do some good things in the industry – as it buys them some extra time to get their ducks in a row.

In my estimation Real Gaming will have zero impact on the Nevada online poker industry.

Advice for future US online poker sites

If you’re not up to the task of developing a competitive online poker product don’t even enter the race.

All you are doing is throwing money away because nobody is going to play at these sites if they have any other viable option.

I’m not saying you have to be PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, or even PartyPoker, but if you’re developing your software and it looks and plays worse than pre-UIGEA rooms, don’t launch.

If your software is choppier than InterPoker circa 2005, don’t even think about launching. Nobody in the poker community wants anything to do with your software if it falls below (and in some cases, well below) this bar.

We’ve seen better, we’ve played on better, and we expect better.

What is occurring in the US market is insanity.

Why do these providers think players will drive a 1972 Pinto Hatchback when they’ve been driving modern cars for close to a decade?

Please, pretty please, stop taking steps backwards with online poker software. If you’re incapable of creating modern software then partner with someone who can.

What’s next, moving your forum back to a newsgroup? Foregoing e-mails in favor of direct mailers?

Maybe opening up a MySpace account to get on this social media bandwagon people have been talking about? Or perhaps bringing back those old school credit card swipe machines that make a carbon imprint of the card?

Anyone who can look at the finished product presented by Real Gaming and say, “I think we are good to go here,” either hasn’t played at a major online poker site in the last five years, or is deluding themselves that their product is good.

Ultimate Poker pulled this same stunt in Nevada back in April of 2013, using the old “it’s good enough” line, but the difference was they were the only option at the time.

UP was making a calculated decision between waiting and potentially letting others beat them into the market or launching early with an unfinished product.

Real Gaming, and any site that comes after them doesn’t have a decision to weigh.

They can either launch with a fully developed and competitive product or continue working it out. Launching a vastly inferior product in a developed market simply isn’t going to cut it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head to my lab and continue to work on my upgrades for a Sony Walkman – “Its gold Jerry!”

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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