Jonas Odman, the man credited for bringing anonymous poker tables to the masses, is stepping down as president of the Bodog Poker Network to concentrate on a new venture stateside.
In a press release, the poker visionary has hinted on creating a new business-to-business start-up in the state of California to expand his recreational player model in a country fast embracing online poker.
“I am tempted to drive a start-up company, based in The Golden State, which will be a B2B software provider for the regulated US online poker market,” says Jonas. “Already competitive, of course, but now that the model is a proven success I want to bring it to poker’s homeland too and nobody else is offering anything tangibly different like this.”
Odman was instrumental in turning Bodog into the first network to have all tables as anonymous. This would offer protection to new players from pros ready to take their money.
Odman, a Swedish national, entered the world of poker when he joined the Ongame Poker Network in 2004. It was there he began conceptualising he recreational poker model as he became convinced the money spent on attracting pros and winning players would work in the short term, but much like the practice of introducing any new predator to a closed eco-system, continuing to do so would damage and potentially destroy the poker eco-system companies were working hard to create.
Odman began conceptualising his recreational poker model that would focus on the net depositing recreational players rather than net withdrawing players such as pros and multi-table grinders. That model has begun to spread globally, with Full Tilt Poker recently launching New To The Game Tables which are for new players only.
Now his sights are set on the US where online poker, banned for years, is gaining traction.
States such as Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada have all passed bills regulating online poker and in May UltimatePoker in Nevada became the first online poker room regulated in the US. Other states, including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Mississippi, are in different stages of doing something similar, and there is also a new federal online gambling bill on the table, recently introduced by Republican Congressman Peter King.
Of course federal legislation is still a long way off and King’s bill faces a turbulent time in Congress before nationwide online poker regulation becomes a reality. Nevertheless, Odman sees a real opportunity, especially in California – one of the richest states in the entire country.
“If we start by looking at what different states are doing, it is obvious that for states with small populations, like Delaware and Nevada, player liquidity will be a problem—in the case of Nevada it already is,” says Odman. “Many people argue that inter-state sharing of liquidity would be the solution but as always when money is transferred across borders legislators will find it hard to agree on the rules.”
He believes that should California, with a population of 37 million people, regulate online poker, then it would create a “California Gold Rush for the online poker industry”.
“Everybody would want to have a piece of the action,” he says. “If poker operators would do things right from the start and launch with a recreational poker model instead of trying to implement it later, California alone is potentially a billion dollar market.”
What his plans are specifically, are still unclear, although Odman says that they involve bringing his recreational player model to poker’s “homeland”.