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Welcome to the Party

by Brendan Murray |  Published: Oct 01, 2010


With the recent announcement of the forthcoming merger of PartyGaming and bwin (see Industry News) the online poker and gaming industry was abuzz with the potential implications for the sector.

With somewhere in the region of 600 online poker sites accepting European players, the over-supply of sites has long been posited as a driver of consolidation which has now been kick-started in earnest by two of the giants of the industry.

The new business, yet to be named, will be worth more than $3 billion and with liquidity from Party Poker and Ongame Network (with its recent acquisition of Betfair poker players to the network) likely to be merged it begs the question — what next for Europe’s leading poker and gaming providers?

With PokerStars and Full Tilt proving big is best in terms of liquidity and reach, there is no escaping the fact that the industry will now need to shed its peripheral operators and limber up for a battle with the big boys.

888 Poker has long been in the doldrums but its chief executive Gigi Levy was quick to announce parent company 888 Holdings was in the shop window and that merger talks would be very likely in the near future.

GigaMedia recently sold a majority share of Everest Poker to Mangas Gaming. A savvy move perhaps in light of the fact that Everest will not want to be left out in the cold in this new dispensation and could (indeed, may have to) seek further partnership in order to flourish.

And what of the online poker networks such as iPoker, Microgaming, and Entraction?

Probably attractive businesses one and all but the early bird catches the worm and with online poker revenues dipping for virtually everyone it seems the time has come for sites and networks to don their best finery and step into the limelight or risk lurking in the shadows and wilting like wallflowers.

The Devils You Know

Having long since exhausted our appetite for poker strategy books (boring and you can’t all be right!) it was with great excitement we received two excellent poker lifestyle books through the letterbox of the Card Player Europe office this month — Dave Ulliott’s rollicking autobiography Devilfish: The Life & Times of a Poker Legend and Paul “Dr. Pauly” McGuire’s riveting sex, drugs, and poker memoir, Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

A large part of the attraction of poker, particularly the live game but increasingly online, are the characters and stories that populate and surround the scene.

We all know some crazy cats who’ve managed to get themselves into a right old spot or two but chances are we haven’t met the kind of crazy cats McGuire and Ulliott can count as friends, acquaintances, or even enemies.

Though both often bump along the underbelly of poker there are many “laugh out loud” moments along the way and enough twists and turns to leave the “on the run” poker player breathless.

Both come highly recommended and both are reviewed in this issue of Card Player.

While this type of memoir/autobiography are thin on the ground given poker’s relative immaturity as a lifestyle which can bring freedom, fame, and fortune, it’s fascinating to see how, as the game grows up (in mainstream terms), the people who are living it, deal with it. More please. Spade Suit