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Ultimate Poker Makes History

by Tom Breitling |  Published: May 06, '13

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Thank you, Mr. President, you lifted my day.

It looked like I wasn’t going to see the first hand of real-money online poker dealt legally in the United States by my own company because I had an interview scheduled with CNBC to talk about the history that Ultimate Poker was just about to make.

The interview was set for 8:50 a.m. on Tuesday. Ultimate Poker’s first hand was scheduled to be dealt only ten minutes later.

I went to a studio in downtown Las Vegas to do the remote interview live with Carl Quintanilla. While I waited, I watched the president’s press conference on CNBC as he went over tax cuts, immigration, Syria and other issues. It seemed like he had a lot to say. At 8:42, a call came in. It seems the president had a lot more to say. “Hey,” the message got back to me, “you’ve just been bumped by the president."

Everything happens for a reason. The CNBC interview would have to wait. But the timing was perfect. I had just enough time to get back to my car and race to the Ultimate Poker office where 30 staffers filled a conference room to watch the first legal online real-money poker game in the United States — a nine-player sit-and-go. Three players registered almost immediately and got in the game. In a couple of minutes all nine were ready for action.

The game started with a $5 buy-in — with prizes going to the top three players. There was a roar in the conference room when chazman drew a flush to win. On-line poker now officially had a winner. But there were millions of winners in that moment. Because real-money online poker was now legal in the United States, and secure for the millions who want to play.

The day just kept getting better and better. Registrations came in to Ultimate Poker from around the globe. The number far exceeded our expectations. I didn’t get on CNBC Tuesday. But Ultimate Poker was the top story on the front page of Wednesday’s USA Today. The demand for interviews increased as the day went on, just as the pent-up demand to play became obvious.

Games have been going non-stop since the first flush was dealt Tuesday morning.

Players have called in to tell us how excited they are. I was just as excited for another reason. For a long time I’ve been telling everyone who would listen that online poker would invigorate the economy. On Day 1, we’ve already started to hire additional support staff to deal with the higher-than-expected volume of questions that poured in. And I’m proud to say that the first tax dollars were generated from real money online gaming.

So, Mr. President, thanks for bumping me off the air so I could see history made.

And if I can I ask one more favor. Please pass federal regulation that limits online gaming to poker only, and offers the highest standard of protection to all Americans who wish to play this great game online.

Tom Breitling is co-founder and chairman of Ultimate Poker. The journey began in 1993, when Breitling moved to Las Vegas with $100 in his pocket and joined his business partner, Tim Poster, to help run the startup company Las Vegas Reservation Systems, Inc. (LVRS), the precursor of Travelscape.com. They capitalized on the growth of Las Vegas and of the Internet, propelling sales to $104 million in 1999. A year later, the partners oversaw the acquisition of Travelscape by Expedia, Inc., in a deal valued at more than $100 million. In 2004, with their first venture into the gaming business, Breitling and Poster acquired the Golden Nugget hotel-casino properties in Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nevada, for $215 million and became the youngest casino owners in the state. They successfully brought back personalized service and “Vintage Vegas” glamour back to downtown. Their unique style of operation later became the subject of the Fox TV reality show, “The Casino.” In September 2005, the pair sold the Golden Nugget to Landry’s Restaurants Inc. for approximately $340 million. Breitling published his autobiography, “Double or Nothing,” in 2007 and worked at Wynn Resorts with Steve Wynn from 2008 to 2010.

 
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