Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Let’s Talk Player-to-Player

As I was mentioning yesterday, there’s a ton happening poker-wise these days, including the World Series of Poker inching ever closer.

The first WSOP bracelet events start in just over a week (on Wednesday, May 29). Meanwhile we’re hearing announcements practically every day from the WSOP concerning all sorts of other news, including about that Carnivale of Poker schedule of events, the 2013-14 WSOP Circuit schedule (expanded to 22 stops) and the 2013 WSOP Europe schedule in Paris, France (including seven bracelet events).

One thing we haven’t heard anything about as yet is a specific date for the launch of the new WSOP real money online poker site, something that came up in that WSOP Conference Call last week. Lots of chatter on the grapevine about that. For example, there was a brief item on Pokerfuse earlier today passing along a forum rumor that the sucker was going to launch tomorrow, but WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky has already confirmed that ain’t going to happen.

Lots of eyes on that story, obviously, which is starting to draw some of the attention away from Ultimate Poker as far as Nevada’s newly burgeoning online poker scene is concerned. Many are assigning a lot of significance to whether or not Caesars manages to get the site up and running during the WSOP, with a failure to do so already being characterized as a big misstep before the fact. But I think it’s clear the desire to launch a site that is tested and ready is probably a higher priority at the moment than to beat a deadline, especially since Ultimate Poker has already managed to claim the title of first to the virtual felt.

As this new U.S. Online Poker 2.0 starts to reveal itself, it’s interesting to observe how differently-managed the new games are from what went before. Licensing requirements in Nevada include a number of provisions that necessarily introduce changes from what players experienced previously with online poker, one of which is to disallow sites from enabling player-to-player transfers.

Players being able to transfer money back and forth to each other was common to pretty much all online poker sites (as far as I can recall), considered by most to be an extension of sorts from the frequent practice in live poker of exchanging money, backing and/or staking, and so on. I remember when I first started playing online I didn’t think too much of P2P transfers being a significant issue, particularly since as a recreational player I didn’t engage in making transfers all that often, but was glad to have the option for the few occasions when I needed it.

Now, though, I think we all see a lot more clearly all of the potential problems that can arise from sites allowing the unrestricted transferring of funds among players, or even the ability to do so with certain limitations. I’m thinking, of course, of things like Full Tilt Poker’s multi-layered implosion (prior to PokerStars’ acquisition and rescue) and the insider cheating scandals at Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker and how P2P transfers could be said to have helped facilitate other more obviously bad (and even fraudulent) practices. The recent Lock Poker brouhaha is also highlighting potential problems surrounding P2P transfers, although there are lots of other issues are in play as well.

The always provocative Kim Lund has been inviting conversation about the topic of P2P transfers via his Twitter feed (@InfiniteEdgeKim). Yesterday morning, Kim invited such discussion thusly: “Writing something on a sensitive subject. Why should sites facilitate player-to-player transfers? I see few reasons, none good enough.”

Responses have come arguing both sides of the issue, with those in favor of keeping P2P transfers in online poker often referring to customers’ desiring having such capability while others have pointed out reasons for doing away with the practice.

I lean in Kim’s direction on this one, perhaps in part because I am a recreational player for whom P2P transfers was never a vital element in my online poker experience. But I understand the arguments of those on the other side, too. I guess removing P2P transfers entirely from the game does, in a sense, further transform online poker into something very different from the live game.

But then again, it always was a different game, wasn’t it?

So how would you respond to Kim's question? Go on, you can tell me... there are no restrictions here regarding our exchanging thoughts and ideas, after all.

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