Subscription poker gathered recognition with the advent of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act), the market inside the United States became out of bounds for quite a lot of online poker operators. As i have written in the past on my poker blog, folks like Partypoker pulled out of the US market, and there are quite a lot of card rooms today which do not accept players from the US. The US poker player thus jumped on the bandwagon of card rooms accepting US players, and these few “chosen ones” became the undisputed champions and leaders of the bludgeoning industry.
Subscription Poker to the rescue
“What next?” was the question asked. A handful of innovative entrepreneurs came up with subscription poker which is the “Subscription Model” of online poker. Truth be told, this concept is an old one, being followed with a few variances in Korea and some other parts of Asia for over a decade now; in US, Pureplay spear-headed the concept and now sites like Spadeclub are quite well known too. Pureplay’s successful advertising on facebook helped them gain a foothold earlier on – I’ve been a member there for over two years now, and have studied them up close. The Spadeclub owner also happens to be the buddy of my company’s President, and we nearly got him as a client before the Pureplay software provider beat us to it. This subscription poker model seems to bypass the UIGEA and works fine preventing any of the hungry wolves out to shoot down any form of online poker inside the US. And it’s a real money model too.
So how does this subscription poker business model work? Well, primarily it is a membership-based model and the revenues are taken care of mostly through advertising. Remember, the UIGEA in essence,prohibits a business from “receiving deposits for the purpose of unlawful online gambling”. This premise leaves open the option for players to come and play on a card room where one can essentially play for prizes, points, tokens, coupons and at the end of the day – “cash prizes” There would be cash games, Multi-Table tournaments, Sit and Go Tournaments, Private/Invite Only Games. The basic membership would be free. For an upgraded or VIP membership fee of $10- $20 a month, players would have access to play in daily cash “real money” games. Players would qualify for these ”REAL CASH” tournaments by earning enough “real chips” through play in other “Ring Games”, “Sit & Go Tournaments”, “Multi Table Tournaments” and through satellite tournaments offered daily.
Social Media and Subscription Poker
The seed for these operations – the player database would obviously have to come from a highly potent tool of viral marketing – social media. The possible potential of integrating your poker software and gaming platform as a piggy back on a social network driven website is anticipated to be quite phenomenal -take the example of the awesome database (estimated to be hundreds of thousands!) of the Zynga poker platform integrated with facebook. The real revenue stream, for subscription poker, would be through advertising. For exposure and ad space in the card room, online poker tables, lobby, website interfaces, etc advertisers would pay. They could also sponsor prizes and tourneys or “Caribbean Cruises” or whatever you will. The social network and the card room would work hand-in-glove to assure a good turn of concurrent players, if handled professionally.
So, there you go! You now have a way to beat the UIGEA in its own backyard. We cannot expect a pokerstars, but yes, there would be sufficient returns and considerable profits to make the venture worth it. In a couple of countries in Korea, people found a way to beat their anti-gaming laws: where no cash or deposits through payment processors was allowed, the governments allowed gambling arcades to give out gift certificates. This was a big loophole – the gift certs were promptly utilized for cash exchange after payment of certain amount of commission to the operators which became their rake! Well, in my travels to these countries, I have actually seen this happen; raking in massive profits through subscription poker and certification-based models over there is a no-brainer.