Nearly three months after the launch of Ultimate Poker in Nevada (yes it’s been three months already) the site remains the only regulated real-money online poker site in the state, and for that matter in the US. While traffic numbers haven’t been anything to write home about, the site has managed to just about double the average number of players since their first week. So what are the other licensed operators in Nevada waiting for –other than the ok by the Nevada Gaming Commission? Many of the licensed operators have partnership deals with companies that run existing online poker rooms, so why have they been unable to get their product out there and compete with Ultimate Poker?
I understand wanting to have all of your ducks in a row, but there is also something to be said for not giving your competitors a three to six month head start where they are operating as a virtual monopoly. But the follow-up question falls squarely on Ultimate Poker, and whether or not they have been able to capitalize on their three-month head start?
When Ultimate Poker first launched the site had an average of about 100 players over its first week according to pokerscout.com. That number has now climbed to around 200 players, with Ultimate Poker seeing peak traffic numbers above 400 players during the WSOP, judging by the data on pokerscout.com. UP has had its shares of ups and downs since launch –preferring to be first-in and fixing problems as they arise, rather than waiting to have all of the glitches ironed out—and the site has been constantly running new promotions, tournaments, and is now on the verge of launching their VIP Loyalty Program, which will utilize an industry-first “Winner Take All” rake method. But they are probably still below expectations. If you told Ultimate Poker before they launched that they would have the market all to themselves for three months I would imagine they would have thought they would have more than 200 players on average.
So has Ultimate Poker taken advantage of their Nevada online poker monopoly? I would say the answer is both yes and no. When it comes to bringing in new players (customers) Ultimate Poker has not capitalized on their head start, but when it comes to building their brand I think the site has done a fairly good job considering they were starting from square one, with a new product and a new brand name.
Still, UP is operating behind the eight-ball because once a site like WSOP.com launches (with the Caesars, WSOP, and 888 brand behind it) will current UP customers stay with the site, or jump ship to the more familiar names in the industry? The smart money would be on players jumping ship. There has to be at least a significant portion of players currently on Ultimate Poker who are playing there because it’s the only game in town, so the site has to be concerned about what happens when WSOP.com or some other site launches.
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