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Opinion: online poker is not dead, it’s simply been resting

| By Joanne Christie
The decline of poker has been accepted as unstoppable by many in the industry. But GG Network’s Hilly Ehrlich thinks a turnaround in fortunes is on the cards.
Boyd Gaming, operator

The decline of poker has been accepted as unstoppable by many in the industry. GG Network’s Hilly Ehrlich explains why he thinks a turnaround in fortunes is ahead.

Notwithstanding the fact that since the advent of online poker in the late 90s, many other forms of online entertainment have come to market, poker players are a breed apart.

While they may take breaks from the game or lose their patience and the will to suffer networks with legacy software that don’t or can’t innovate, poor ecologies, endless cross promotions to casino games, not to mention bad management, they don’t lose their passion for the game.

That passion endures, indeed it thrives. We know that more than 90 million people across the world have, at some point or another, made a real money deposit at an online poker site. That’s a lot of people.

We also know that today only a tiny fraction of those are considered to be actively playing. We’ve seen a big downturn over the past eight to 10 years, but I believe we are going to experience a swing back in the other direction.

In contrast to popular opinion, which laments the fact that online poker is over and dead, I believe it isn’t — in the words of the immortal Monty Python in the Dead Parrot sketch, it’s resting, kipping, stunned, no more than that.

Networks need to provide both software and features that are in tune with modern lifestyles and preferences. It is no longer good enough to be able to say you have a mobile version, it needs to be one that is super compatible and easy to play for the growing numbers of players who play on the go.

The more feature-rich poker networks will own the future, features like all-in insurance on regular cash tables and on all formats of the game, 'Turbo Spin n’ Go' games, 'All in or Fold' cash games, flexible deals on VIP private game tables, to name just a few.

These are the kinds of games that offer players great entertainment, and they are typically not populated by mutli-tabling grinders.

Players today are less likely to play long, exhausting sessions — they have an hour or two to play and they want to be thoroughly entertained with the prospect of winning some cash.

Perhaps most importantly, they want to play at a site where the ecosystem is professionally and fairly constructed, balanced and managed. And where you can get your money on and off the site quickly and easily.

This is what we’re aiming for at the GGNetwork. It has been recently developed and has already become popular in Asia, where poker is experiencing serious growth.

A key part of its offer is the industry unique Player Value Index (PVI) rake-attribution model. It isn’t easily explained in a few words as it’s a rather complex mathematical formula, but in short it governs the network and attributes players a value according to their worth.

As a result, the entire governance of the ecosystem is taken care of. There are no more unworkable network policies, network cages or disputes as to what constitutes a good or bad player.

What gets poker players back to the online felt time and time again is the thrilling feeling of excitement they get from a session; this feeling is way more important than their account balance.

Give the players what they want, it isn’t much to ask, but it isn’t easy to achieve either — just ask anyone who owns and operates an online poker platform.

But it’s worth the effort because if players have a fun and fair environment to play in, they can be tempted back to the table.

Hilly Ehrlich is co-founder of GG Network.

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