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Ivey Poker Review – Social Poker Room

July 16 admin

Ivey Poker has a Beta Launched on Facebook July 2013

It’s no secret that I, like the rest of the poker world, am in love with Phil Ivey! (or Maybe it’s just me :). 

Phil Ivey Poker Player

Here is my shameless photo opp. with the man himself at WSOP 2013. (Yes, I stuttered when I saw him but happy that I didn’t drool). Im clearly a huge fan of Ivey just not so much one of his app – Ivey Poker.

When I first heard from industry insiders back in late 2011 that Phil Ivey was launching some secret poker product that included the free2play model, poker training and tonnes of pros I was obviously very intrigued.

I immediately envisioned this beautiful, high-end, super classy poker room with the coolest gaming innovation, state of the art technology and never-before seen user experience. I pictured a luxurious VIP points program, soft plushy couches with tables covered with champagne flutes and me sitting in a jet plane playing open-face chinese with Ivey himself…

My bubble however was recently burst with a BETA banner that reads…‘Play like the Ivey Pros’ splashed across a designed interface by someone who may be color-blind and a web designer from the early 1990s. I couldn’t get past the web safe magentas, the unappealing mis-matched stock buttons, inconsistent fonts, annoyingly cramped play tables… etc.

Ivey Poker Room on Facebook

Ivey Poker Room on Facebook

Instead of champagne, I got a luke warm can of beer that has been sitting in the sun too long.
With so much potential in the Ivey name, I was disappointed to say the least and it left me unsatisfied & yearning for more.

Being such a big fan of Ivey, my expectations were set high and I was expecting everything he does to be top shelf. Or simply, maybe Im just not the right clientele? But then if Im not the clientele who is? I love poker… I want to get better at poker… Im always on Facebook… I want to play poker with Phil Ivey. I seem to be the target profile…I don’t know.

In Ivey Poker’s Defense…

Other reviewers and industry experts that I have discussed this prior to my post pretty much was on the same page. Unlike me however, they were less dramatic ‘In Ivey Poker’s defense, it’s their beta…’

I would love to give Ivey Poker the defense that this is a ‘Beta’ and they have released a product to test the market response but I don’t think it gets this defense because this shouldn’t have been your average startup! This is Phil Ivey… it’s been 2 years in the making! If I was his PR agent / Business Consultant / Designer, my advice would clearly be “Make your first impression a lasting one. Launch something that will blow the socks off all your competitors… and then keep the surprises coming! Don’t just launch a bad rendition of Zynga’s ever popular Texas Hold’em and have it not even be as good.

Though what does make sense is that Ivey Poker wanted to stay ‘Lean’ by simply reskinning their early software acquisition of Leggo Poker & just wanted to launch asap. The 2 year dev. cycle is a bit confusing though.

(EG. Fresh Deck Poker wow’d me although Im not sure if the artwork actually effects ROI positively or if it is simply cosmetically pleasing…it currently sits with 100,000 MAU)

Fresh Deck Poker Lobby

Ivey Poker gets some points for having training videos, but lose more for not integrating it well into the actual game design. The lack of innovation makes me upset, but not as upset as the interface design. (By innovation I don’t mean reinvent poker, but adding creativity to the way the material is presented). Here are some of my initial thoughts on what I think of Ivey poker in no particular order:

POTENTIALS
  • The brand featured in the real world is beautiful and the swag the pros wear is definitely nice. I’d sport it proudly 😉
  • The caliber of Pros on Team Ivey is definitely top-notch. Anyone looking to better their game would benefit from the advice of any one of those players. Only question is if the pros on Ivey’s rooster house-hold enough to attract the mass-market? Out of what seems to be like 100s of unknown pros (to non-poker players), the heavyweights are clearly are Ivey, Jen Harman, Greg Merson, Patrick Antonius.
  • Video Training is good content building and signing all these pros for next to nothing is also a very strategic move on Ivey’s part.
  • I like the multi4 multi-tabling capabilities on the social game, but unsure if social gamers even care about multi-tabling? I think integrating fast-fold poker, similar to Zoom might be a better idea for a social game if they are trying to cater to the attention spans of users. Would be interesting to see what their data for this will be?
  • There is always room in the market for top games, but only time will tell if Ivey Poker will have what it takes to climb to the top of the charts. At first glance, it looks like a big money sink.
  • Im pretty certain Ivey Poker is eventually going real money gaming. Social gaming is a good testing platform… this is the only thing that makes sense to me.
  • I like the bad-beat jackpots!
  • Leveraging off the pros & their social networks/fans may seem like a positive, but in the market of social gamers, the question remains do social gamers care? What is critical mass? and will this feature help with monetization?
  • If you are a poker geek like me and you are always logged onto Facebook… might as well hang out where the cool kids are hanging out too.
Ivey Poker Room on Facebook - Interface
Ivey Poker Facebook Interface
  • I really like the Join Pros at the table. Ivey was playing last night, and I didn’t have enough coins to play with him and i ALMOST…just ALMOST put in $50 to sit down with Ivey. I wonder if these are the real pros playing on Ivey Poker or simply a stand-in part-time? Cause the question Im sure in the back of everyone’s mind is why are they here playing for play money? Why do they care so much about teaching you how to play good poker? and if it’s really the pros… will they play the same if it’s for play money? 

An interesting video by Mike Sexton on: Do people play poker the same when there is no real money invested? 


DOWNFALLS

  • Ivey Poker may need more differentiators. Video training is good but might not be enough to float it for long. Game play and innovation most definitely needs a second look.
  • UI/UX design needs some TLC… I’m not even going to bother listing them all.
  • There are broken fundamentals in the game funnel as it sends mixed messages & tries to cater to all and no one at the same time. The target market of Ivey Poker is unclear and messy. Are they targeting existing poker players? New players to the game? 
  • The virtual gifts seem a bit too cliche. They offer no real motives to buy or enhance much to actual game play.
  • The virtual economy is a bit confusing too, there are 2 currencies…chips & gold, but unclear if gold can be earned?
  • The app is built in flash… so with promises to go cross-platform this will be very costly to reproduce in native code & maintain user flow…but with deep pockets, anything can be done so it might not be an issue except for short term ROI.

NUMBERS GAMES

  • Even with millions of dollars in backing, the monetization will prove to be a challenge. Social gaming is a numbers game, and with FB taking it’s 30% tax up front, then expecting only 3-7% of MAU to monetize, just how many of those are interested in paying for videos with premium currency? I think if the game allowed viewers to earn premium currency…that might be a big positive.
  • I know it’s just been a week since launch, but numbers as stated today July 16, 2013… ~8200 people have registered for the app, & roughly 10% of those will play online concurrently. (Im assuming through organic growth = highest potentially monetizing users)
  • Scaling those up to 1M+ MAU with about 100,000 DAU… Im predicting Ivey Poker can gross $1.5 – $1.8 million/month before customer acquisition/expenses/FB – Apple tax. (I just did some industry math based on my assumptions). 
Ivey Poker Virtual Goods - Beta

Ivey Poker Virtual Goods – Beta

Ivey Poker Virtual Gifts Shop

FINAL COMMENTS

Overall, I believe that Ivey Poker is a forward movement for the poker industry as a whole on social networks and for this reason alone, I am a supporter of Ivey Poker. Sure the product is far from perfect, but the foundation definitely has heart.

I am excited to see how Ivey Poker will develop over the next few months/years when the site has 100k+ users funneled in, player data has been collected and it’s on-going pro support/content build.

This is an exciting time for Phil Ivey, and I respect the fact that he is not afraid to jump into unknown territory head first. With great risk comes great reward, and in this industry there is no secret sauce to what the market responds to. If anyone can take on Zynga and then PokerStars, it might as well be the one and only… Mr.Phil Ivey.

-s-


You can also find me on Twitter @astrogurl or @luckyladygames.

 
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