Author: Kim Lund

Hands of Victory vs. Powerup Poker Part 2 – Adding depth, strategy and skill

In part one of this comparison between Pokerstars Powerup and Hands of Victory – two games  that aim to expand poker’s appeal through genre-crossing innovations – I  compared both game’s  most prominent novel game feature – their power systems. In this part I’ll discuss how both these power system along with other new rules and game mechanics add new layers of skill and complexity to the game. World building, levelling, monetisation and how the games may position poker on the burgeoning e-sports scene will be the focus of an upcoming part 3. Please read part one before continuing. ** —- DISCLAIMER — ** It has taken me weeks to piece together this post. As the designer of one of these games I have firm grip of the challenges you face when innovating poker. I have feel for how things fundamentally change the game. But I’m not a game theorist. To make this work I have taken some liberties with concepts I find a tad too abstract to fit with my audience. I also don’t master the underlying math well enough to confidently navigate it. I know it. I recognise it. So please flame me gently. It was this way or no way.  WHY EVEN INCREASE STRATEGIC DEPTH? For years real money poker providers have innovated with the intent of creating new game variations that essentially dumb down the game. While partly a response to a correctly identified need to shorten game sessions for mobile play, it’s also a misguided...

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Hands of Victory vs. Powerup Poker Part 1 – the Power Systems

Across the industry, established companies and startups alike are busy trying to figure out how to mitigate the risks associated with the millennial, gamer generation’s seemingly lacklustre appreciation of the conventional casino experience. One suggested idea championed by me amongst others, is to bridge the gap between video games, esports and traditional poker. Doing so should raise the appeal of an experience that thanks to poker’s competitive nature, its place in culture and its social element naturally resonates with millennials to begin with. And it might provide a much needed boost in interest among players from “older” generations as well. Revenues from las Vegas poker rooms have dropped from roughly 170,000,000 in the peak year of 2007 to 117,000,000 now.  According to the great news resource legalonlinepokerreport.com, Severin Rasset, the Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at Stars Group, has stated that an internal survey conducted by PokerStars (the world’s largest online poker site by far) indicated 42 percent of lapsed poker players found the game of poker boring and not engaging. The need to innovate is apparent. The millennial potential is, at least, interesting. I believe the industry would be foolish to dismiss  this opportunity. But it would be equally foolish to believe that there is one, simple solution for meeting this new, supposed, demand. 
For every League of Legends game there are five other MOBAs that didn’t make it. 
For...

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Mobile second. Why online poker providers need to stop obsessing about mobile

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to comment on the state of mobile poker for a piece published in the latest issue of Mobile Intelligence. I highly recommend reading it. It’s packed with insightful comments from people with far more influence and power than me and paints a comprehensive picture of the current mobile poker landscape. In my answers to the great questions asked I pointed out that I think the industry would benefit from a holistic debate about mobile’s place in poker’s future. It’s ultimately a different discussion so none of that (for good reason) made it into the article. Good thing I have this blog :-D While I am first in line hailing any company willing to innovate in the poker space I do feel that the industry, in somewhat typical fashion, has rashly pivoted from a position of under-estimating the potential of mobile to a position of over-estimating that potential. Everyone is targeting mobile now. And I think ”mobile first” strategies are a mistake. Here’s why.   IS POKER NATURALLY FIT FOR MOBILE? Some types of games are entirely device and/or platform dependent. Triple A 3D games are still technically limited (yeah, I know) to high-end consoles. Some games rely on social networks’ sharing mechanics and payment services to function. Others (like Piano Tiles for example) are based on touch mechanics that don’t really translate...

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The biggest opportunity in poker that everyone missed?

I think it was roughly nine months ago that I sat in my office and felt the shackles that have bound me to this industry since I went solo in 2010 finally break. The reason behind this moment of liberation was a couple of announcements from different online poker rooms that confirmed to me, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the industry as a whole had come to adopt the recreational point of view that I and others have been pitching forever. I haven’t actively consulted on basic player ecology matters for years, but I still write about it off and on. My pride has not allowed me to consider quitting poker before the views I held so dear ( and that were dismissed and high-horsed for years) would be established. Now they are. Pretty much every site has introduced measures to steer their poker businesses into more causal play friendly waters. But no one has ever put the pedal to the medal. They have, in poker speak, never fully committed to the pot. The incremental steps mentality is the primary reason why I have not played a more active role in forging new experiences for the established sites. I have been in discussions many times but I’ve never been comfortable with that approach. I got to be part of trying it before 2010 and that didn’t turn out well. The changes...

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Premature calls for DFS regulation

When I began covering Daily Fantasy Sports two months ago, I effectively joined a choir criticizing key decisions made by and operational principles adopted by the two major providers of DFS, DraftKings and FanDuel. In the light of the ongoing media storm that both those companies now face, it may come as a surprise that I will spend a couple of hundred word arguing against the need for DFS regulation. Or at least against the need to rush regulation. Not because I’m principally against the idea of regulation, but because the chain of events that lead to where we are could and should have been avoided without regulation. And had regulation been in place, I doubt it would have done that much good. Also, regulation tend to favor market incumbents. How is that fair given that they are the ones guilty of possibly forcing regulation? Lastly it has to be noted that I am naturally contrarian. I always find it interesting and constructive to explore unpopular opinions. I perceive FanDuel and DraftKings (the latter more than the former) as reckless companies keen on taking shortcuts in an industry that regardless of whether it is technically labelled as a gambling or not should stick to baby steps. Watching the nukes drop after one incident too many gave the skeptics what they needed to broadside the entire DFS industry on front...

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