At 9 a.m. local time on April 30th in Nevada, Ultimate Poker, an offshoot of Station Casinos, has launched real money online poker at UltimatePoker.com, making history as the first company in the United States to offer legal and secure online poker. The first hand was the first ever in a U.S. jurisdiction that licenses and regulates the Internet gambling industry.
Since the owners of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker left the American poker scene in April 2011, the poker community has been waiting for a Nevada casino firm to finally get involved with the business. That´s why dealing the first legal hand of real money online Poker in the United States created great enthusiasm among poker players although online poker is limited to those within the state’s borders for the time being. But still it is enough to create hope for other states, Delaware and New Jersey are two states which followed Nevada´s path and already legalized online poker.
It has been a little more than a week since Ultimate Poker launched in Nevada and there are already various complaints about the software. To be honest, if you ever played a single hand of online poker on any of the big poker rooms like Pokerstars or Fulltilt, Ultimate Poker´s software will look like a trip back to 1995.
But the design isn´t the only flaw, the lack of customization options and glitches seem to take the fun out of the game for seasoned players who are accustomed to more sophisticated software.
For example, hand histories are available to players however they are quite difficult to find and view. Players can´t disable card animations or shrink the tables as they wish which is quite annoying if you plan to play at more than one table at a time. And if you want to play some Omaha, well you are out of luck. Ultimate Poker does not spread Omaha games for now.
Verizon is another problem to players who want to use their mobile devices to play online poker. Online players must be in Nevada to gamble online and Ultimate Poker has an obligation to verify the location of those mobile devices however Verizon still didn´t give Ultimate Poker the permission. As a result of this, players with Verizon service remains locked out of the site.
Ultimate Poker doesn´t work with Apple computers either. So players who want to play on their macs ultimately need to buy a software which allows them to install and run windows OS on their macs. Ultimate Poker tries to make it up to you and offer to reimburse $200 for the purchase, but that´s only if you accumulate that much in rake. So in other words, Ultimate Poker makes it up to you, with your money.
Station officials are aware of the flaws and glitches of their software but they say they had to sacrifice some feature to reach their goal; being the first legal, real-money poker site in the country. And they did that.
“What was really important to us was getting the early-mover advantage. We figured what we should do is prioritize the most popular game with the skinniest offering. That allows us to get through the field trial with few things that could hold us up in terms of hurdles.” says Ultimate Gaming Chief Marketing Officer Joe Versaci.
Ultimate Poker is on a 30 day field trial at the moment and a public hearing will be held at the end of it for The Gaming Control Board to review its findings.
“We feel our technology is a major advantage. Ultimate Poker’s proprietary software is completely owned and operated by parent company Ultimate Gaming, allowing for continuous investment and product development,” said Ultimate Poker Chief Executive Officer Tobin Prior. “The technology was acquired in 2011 and initially developed by a U.S. based company with a completely clean regulatory profile.”
Station Casino officials said that an upgrade for the basic features is on the way however more advanced features, which are likely to benefit the experienced online players, will probably take more time since it is a question of design.
Versaci is cautious about adding more advanced features which will probably end up drawing more and more multi-tabling grinders. “It’s a delicate economy, we feel prudent and like we have a responsibility on how we roll out limits and multi-tabling (playing multiple hands at once). We want to make sure our poker economy is healthy and active before we open the reins and allow huge multi-tabling and HUDs (heads-up displays). We want it to be fun.”
Despite the criticism, Brand Ambassador and professional poker player Antonio Esfandiari doesn´t seem to lose his enthusiasm about the return of online poker to United States; “This day has been a long time coming. Online poker in the United States is finally here and totally legit. I signed on to be the ambassador for Ultimate Poker because I knew the people behind this company would do it right. I signed on because Ultimate Poker is where I would come to play. Now we all can.”