Author: Kim Lund

The demographics of the poker ecosystem

In the wake of my last post about the argument that recreational players are losing too fast, the old problem of defining the recreational player resurfaced. There is no unified view across the industry. As a result, productive discussions about recreational players tend to end up getting caught in a web of confusion over who means what when. I definitely should have shared my view before posting what I did. I have in the past, but understanding the ecosystem of a poker room is a work in constant progress. So whatever my latest take on it is, should have been part of what I published. So here it is. It is important to note that I rarely discuss ”player groups” or ”player types”. The word ”demographics” in the headline is somewhat misleading actually.  For me, the best way to describe poker ecology is in terms of ”player states”. From a holistic liquidity theory point of view, it doesn’t matter which player is what. It only matters that some players are in one state while others are in another state. I also prefer the term “state” because I base a lot of my liquidity optimization strategies on the value of players switching between states. Rather than saying that more players need to be of a specific category or other – which tends to defy poker’s natural equilibrium anyway – I prefer...

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IGNA2015 reflections – losers don’t lose too fast

A hospital appointment effectively killed any chance of me attending the IGNA 2015 conference last week. It would have been a long and expensive trip to take for a start-up on a shoe-string budget regardless, but considering the quality of the panels it might have been worth it. That, however, doesn’t stop me from discussing some of the topics discussed during the conference. The first topic I want to address – that losers in poker lose too fast – was  brought up during the ”bring fun back into online poker”  panel which I was really looking forward to (and wanted to be on). Two plus two representatives, poker book authors and game theoreticians Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky did poker a huge favor by presenting a strong case for increasing attention on recreational players on that panel. As representatives of the shrine that all devoted players journey to, their opinions weigh heavily. Mason published a recap in this 2+2 thread. The argument is one I discussed repeatedly and I think it is worth reminding  why one needs to treat it with caution. While it is true in some sense that losers lose too fast, it’s a flawed problem statement. It is indicative of a metrics driven view on products and customers that bypasses strong counter-arguments. Losers don’t lose too fast because: … the problem that arises from losers losing to fast is partly a monetization problem related to rake...

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Innovating poker for Twitch and e-sports

A Twitch craze is sweeping across the poker industry. A fairly recent change in the game streaming provider’s policy has switched poker’s status from regulatory pariah to being viewed as a logical next step for the game streaming movement. And it is. But poker and Twitch is not a perfect match. Hopefully the change will motivate game companies and investors to fund the poker innovations required to fully capitalize on the opportunity. And hopefully our poker game, Hands of Victory – which is being designed exclusively with game streaming and e-sports in mind – will be one of them. To spread awareness of our little venture and to help the industry explore this new  field of gold, I’ve attempted to put on paper some of my thoughts regarding the challenges people keen on growing poker through Twitch and e-sports are bound to face. As per usual the aim is to spark debate. Now win a Pulitzer prize. Twitch stream archetypes To help structure my thoughts around Twitch, I like to break all the various streams into three archetype streams:  social, educational and competitive. In social streams the streamer is the star. It doesn’t really matter much what game he or she is playing. Gaming is just the setting for the interaction between the streamer and the audience. The quality of the stream hinges entirely on the streamer’s ability to...

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The #Good4Poker List of Commendable Achievements, Initiatives and Personal Accomplishments

Award season is upon us! Left, right and center companies and individuals in the e-gaming space are being handed awards for a job well done or sometimes – frankly – for having funneled advertising money into the right pockets. Next up is the GPI American Poker Awards in two week’s time. Votes for the Bluff’s Power 20 – which strives to rank those who have ”… the most positive impact on poker” – are also due in. While GPI’s award shows (a European event is due a month or so later) are new, I think it is safe to claim that they share a high level of credibility with the more established Bluff’s Power 20. Both initiatives take their respective undertakings seriously, focus squarely on poker and rely on a whole host of industry insiders to weed out candidates and pick winners. Over the last couple of weeks I have been in several, sometimes heated, discussions over who should or should not be on the list or be handed an award. All good right? Well, I do think something is missing. And that thought, after some even more heated discussions over who actually wields power in this industry and who deserves cred for their work, lead me to create this ”#Good4Poker list of commendable achievements, initiatives and personal accomplishments”. For the record I am not among the GPI’s judges...

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Poker’s next big story

Throughout its decade long journey from a game enjoyed by a few degenerate millionaires and colorful pros in dark-lit casinos, to a game loved and played by millions online, poker has relied on great stories to keep its momentum going. First there was the idea of playing online itself.  Then there was the Moneymaker rags-to-riches David vs Goliath narrative.  And the allure of playing in front of the WPT cameras.  Then came the stories of grinding for profit and living large in Las Vegas.  And of playing poker for stakes unfathomable to the average Joe. For every new market that embraced the game, these stories repeated themselves. Every year there was a new batch of media people following a new group of wide-eyed amateurs and newly crowned pros having their first go at a WSOP bracelet or a WPT title. For years the industry rode on wave after wave of these recurring stories. But eventually the sea stilled and the tide started to turn. Social poker burst onto the scene and spread awareness of poker to new demographics. Mobile poker offered relief from an experience that was slowly growing stale. National operators fought valiantly to keep the game in the spotlight. Long overdue innovation like so-called lottery Sit & Go tournaments has managed to make the game relevant again for long-since churned players. But it hasn’t been enough to...

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