If you made a living grinding Stars from your swanky U.S. apartment, Friday’s indictments probably seem like the end of the world, but for a large swathe of the online poker industry, the news came as an unexpected boon.
Most sites withdrew from America following the UIGEA in 2006 and there are plenty who were only founded in the last few years. With players abandoning PokerStars and Full Tilt in droves, these companies are eager to snatch up the wandering traffic.
Enterprising PR people didn’t waste long capitalising on the big two’s dire misfortune. All You Poker Stars, Don’t Tilt – VC Poker Is The Absolute Nuts, read one email that hit my inbox yesterday. The brazen glee is palpable.
Rather than just gloating, Winner Poker had an idea to tempt in these floating customers. They offered to upgrade anyone who had acquired over 6,700 Full Tilt Points or Platinum, Super Nova, or Super Nova Elite status on PokerStars. Even if Winner Poker’s VIP system can’t compete with the toppled big guns, they may be able to tempt in a few players who have lost confidence in their site of choice, but don’t want to risk losing elite status.
It took the good folks at Chili Poker less than 24 hours to come up with a special ‘Purple Day’ selection of promotions. Among a handful of bonuses, they too were offering to buy vacated loyalty points from indicted sites.
The one thing all of these missives have in common are their attempts to reassure customers. Even though the non-U.S. facing sites have nothing to fear in the way of legal reprisal, they know that ousted players will be understandably spooked about the safety of online poker. Amid stories of lost cashouts and bouncing cheques, users’ confidence in depositing is at an all-time low.
Any online poker company worth their salt has leapt on the chance to advertise their integrity and safety. Trust has become an important buzzword. Just look at this prominent banner on Bodog’s website:
As one of the few remaining companies to still accept U.S. players, it’s very important that Bodog reassure their clientele that they won’t suffer the same fate as their larger competitors. Whether or not you can actually trust Bodog to keep your money safe and accessible is up in the air, but they’re going to do everything they can to make sure you give them a chance.
Money is far and away the most important issue. Poker in one place or the other is not so materially different. Most players are solely recreational and will be satisfied so long as there’s a game available at their preferred stakes. Their real concerns will be about leaving money in a safe place.
This banner has popped up on Titan Poker’s homepage. Not only does it reinforce a reputation for safety, but also specifically the deposit and withdrawal system. With PokerStars et al. lost in a sea of worried support emails, some players are still waiting for withdrawn cash to hit their bank accounts. Having money floating in the ether is very disconcerting and the knowledge that your poker site has guaranteed the success of your withdrawal is likely to be appealing for prospective players.
PartyPoker seem to know this better than anyone. As the largest non-U.S. site currently operating, they are in a prime position to regain the throne they relinquished back in 2006.
You can’t fail to miss this new logo on the PartyPoker homepage. Their marketing team have obviously been trawling the web, reading poker forums, reading tale after tale of panic withdrawals. Offering prompt payments shouldn’t really be something you need to advertise as your company’s selling point. Most players would expect the PartyPoker payment system to work swiftly, but after Black Friday, all bets are off.