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Who are Pokerwize

Our resident analyst, Dan C gives you his thoughts on Pokerwize, the latest entrant to the 3D poker market.

So what…… its just another 3D site isn’t it?

No its not. It looks like Pokerwize will be playing with the big boys. Pokerwize will be joining the Prima poker network. The Prima poker network is run by Microgaming, one of the giants in online gaming software. This network will provide the entire back end for PokerWize.com – that is the payment system, card dealing etc. It will also guarantee that when people go online with PokerWize there will always be at least 10,000 players online for them to play against. The relationship gives PokerWize.com instant liquidity and a robust, proven back end – which other 3d poker sites – which may try to build their own network – simply do not have. Suddenly the big boys in the gaming industry are paying attention to the impact that 3D poker could have on the online gaming industry.

OK – so they are joining the Microgaming Prima network of online poker rooms – but its a 3D site and all of the sites on the Prima network are 2D. How is that going to work?

Yep, good question that one. You will be able to play against other people on the Prima network even if they are not using PokerWize.com software – even if they are using a 2d site. All that will happen is the PokerWize.com software will generate a unique 3d character representation of that player which you will see. They will just see whatever their 2d site can handle – but if you choose to gesture them or anything like that, a description will appear in the chat console. Brilliant, isn’t it!

I see they have a celebrity sponsor called Helen Chamberlain – who is she?

Our UK audiences will be well aware of Helen. She fronts a leading UK Saturday morning sports programme called ‘Soccer AM’. She really does rock – she is a beer drinking, poker player dude – Helen ‘Hells Bells’ Chamberlain- you rock dude! No seriously…..she can play poker and recently won Ladbrokes Poker Million event.

What does 3DPokerReviews make of it?

Pokerwize have two major advantages over the competition. By now they would have seen what the revolutionary PKR product has – they can take the best features and build upon them. However, more importantly, by being part of the vast Microgaming Prima poker network they will have no shortage of real money players at their tables.

What’s Pokerwize’s unique selling point?

I must admit I was rather surprised to see that Pokerwize launched on time. Like every other revolutionary product, you anticipate that there will be delays upon delays. So it was with surprise, anticipation if a little apprehension that I downloaded their product and started playing.

Here’s a little more on Pokerwize and where I see them fitting into the online poker market.

Their is real logic behind the product. The software enables you to do 3 things:

1. Learn about Poker though a number of tutorials.

These are actually fairly good and offer an excellent introduction to the game for those that have never played or haven’t played for a while. UK players will be used to the dulcet tones of Helen Chamberlain, a well known TV presenter on the hit programme ‘Soccer AM’.

2. Play poker offline.

This is another great feature of the product. You can improve your skills by playing with the application offline. Ideal for those without broadband or who simply want to practice offline.

3. Play poker online

Pokerwize enables you to play online poker with other players in a multitude of single and multiple table tournaments.

So what does Pokerwize offer that other sites don’t?

It took me 6 months within the gaming industry to really get to grips with how online poker actually works. By that I mean the infrastructure of the online poker industry.

The biggest challenge facing any new online poker company is the ability to have a large enough player base, 24 hours a day, to provide enough action at the tables. (If you have ever been into an empty bar at peak time, you can understand how off putting this is for potential customers). From my experience, a site needs a minimum of 4000 players online at any one time to really generate serious action at the tables. Now that may come as a surprise to some of you, but when you consider that there are various different formats of poker that can be played (Texas Holdem and Omaha are just 2 of the better know formats that most gaming companies offer), a minimum of 4000 players brings some liquidity to the tables. Online poker firms make their money from the rake they take from each hand. The volume of transactions is key.

Some of the giants of the poker world were quick enough off the mark to actually build their own poker software and establish their own poker networks (Party Gaming amongst them). PKR poker are attempting to do this as well, and while it is undoubtedly more profitable in the long term, it is incredibly hard to achieve in today’s competitive market.

Pokerwize have managed to get around this issue by joining the Prima poker network. The Prima poker network is run by Microgaming, one of the giants in online gaming software. This network will provide the entire back end for PokerWize.com – that is the payment system, card dealing etc. It will also guarantee that when people go online with PokerWize there will always be at least 4,000 players online for them to play against. This is traditionally a route taken in the last few years by medium size sports betting companies, who were keen to jump on the poker revolution without loosing focus on their core business. Many have done very nicely indeed over the last few years, particularly as the UK sports betting firms have taken a hit on the bottom line with a run of poor results.

A little background on Pokerwize ?

Despite these guys being new to the online gaming industry their product looks good. As the technical team at PKR (a rival firm) can testify, producing a game to be played over the internet is somewhat different to producing one for the standard Playstation 2 or X-Box console. I’m impressed with their project delivery, and their business model, which really does make sense (more on that in a minute).

So what’s their strategy then?

By providing tutorials and an environment to learn the game, it is clear that part of Pokerwize’s strategy is to take online poker to the un-initiated in the hope of then converting them into real money players. Their poker tutorials are good and I’d certainly recommend them to those wanting to learn how to play the game.

There will be an added side effect which should be worth noting. In spite of what you may have heard, poker is ultimately a game of skill, rather than pure luck. It takes time to learn the game and even moderately experienced poker players can make fast easy money against rookie players new to the tables. It’s known in the industry as ‘sharking’ and results in players migrating to the easy money online poker sites. The Prima Poker network and Pokerwize should certainly benefit from this.

My only real issue with the software is the functionality that exists between 2D and 3D tables. I very much doubt that the players on the other 2D sites on the Prima network can see that you are using Pokerwize’s 3D functionality (i.e throwing tantrums at the table, pointing at fellow players, like in the image above). This to me appears to be a major flaw. However, despite this I believe Pokerwize have signaled the beginning to the end of traditional 2D “solitaire” online poker. It’s going to be interesting to see how Microgaming react. Will they use the Pokerwize software as the official client to be used for all their Prima poker gaming firms, thereby replacing the current rather pathetic 2D client that is fairly average, even by 2D standards? Will Playwize, the AIM listed company behind the Pokerwize product end up licensing the software to other gaming companies or gaming software developers.

Is an arrangement already in place between the firms, and if not why not? I’m smelling the money already…

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