First read the news over on Pokerati. Dan’s headline to his post -- “AP and UB Merge to Form Criminally Questionable Supersite” -- initially gave the impression that we were reading some sort of lampoon in the style of The Onion (or Melted Felt). But apparently this is no joke.
Sounds like the idea here is not to form a single site, actually, but rather to share the player pools between AP and UB. Thus, as is the case with other networks that feature “skins,” players will (I assume) only be allowed a single account on both, but will have the option of which interface to use.
Aside from the dozens of puns that spring to mind (“Are they Cereus?”), I just have three initial reactions to the news:
(1) Damage control.
What we are seeing here is not unlike what the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was doing earlier in the week with its much-belated statement regarding the UltimateBet scandal. Despite appearances, said the KGC, we weren’t “doing nothing” with regard to UB. Rather, its “investigation... has yielded a number of key findings which, within the next several days, will enable the KGC to issue its decision on the appropriate steps to be taken.”
That 60 Minutes exposé ominously looms in the near future, and both Absolute Poker and UltimateBet stand to lose face when that feature finally airs. When that day comes, all of those associated with both AP and UB will want to have positioned themselves in such a way as to appear to have responded correctly to the scandals. A new network with a new name affords new titles for those running the show, enabling them (perhaps) to distance themselves even further from all that unpleasantness everyone keeps going on about.
(2) People are buying this?
I see an enthusiastic announcement over on Pocket Fives about the merger. Bluff Magazine also thinks it’s just the cat’s pajamas. (P5s continues to operate as an affiliate of UltimateBet, while Bluff is still an affiliate of both Absolute Poker and UB.)
Applesauce, of course. The reasonable response to such news is serious (I said it), deep-rooted skepticism. The idea that two online poker sites, both of which permitted insiders to exploit breaches in the sites’ integrity in different ways, could somehow be expected to manage the task of creating a unified, trustworthy network between them is frankly beyond belief.
(3) How futile.
What a half-baked, facile attempt at rebranding. Really. Something likely dreamed up by the same underachieving ad execs who thought putting Phil Hellmuth in a general’s uniform in order to recruit dupes to join the “UltimateBet Army” was clever.
Over on UltimateBet, we read that “the strongest online poker community is about to get CEREUS.” Over at Absolute Poker, word is “the future of online poker is CEREUS; bigger, badder, better...” Only those utterly ignorant of online poker could possibly be convinced that AP and UB together comprise “the strongest online poker community.” And perhaps some segment of that group responds positively to hollow (yet alliterative!) phrases like “bigger, badder, better.”
No telling where it all will lead. Can’t help thinking, though, that somewhere down the road -- perhaps not that far -- we’ll be reading about “Cereus missteps” and “Cereus problems.”