I’m looking at the website this evening the front page of which doesn’t even reflect the fact that UP is done. There’s the notice to New Jersey players, first posted less than two months ago to announce Ultimate Poker was leaving the Garden State, but one has to dig around a little to learn that the Nevada games ended today, withdrawals can be made as usual for the next week, and any remaining player balances will be refunded by check thereafter.
The New Jersey pull-out had seemed primarily consequent to the troubles of Trump Taj Mahal Associates, the land-based casino with which UP had partnered up. Details of “multiple breaches” of their agreement on the part of the Trump group -- not the least of which being TTMA’s owing UP’s parent company some significant cabbage -- all colored that move as unsurprising and not necessarily indicative of Ultimate’s shutdown being imminent.
That said, the prospects for Ultimate in Nevada were hardly rosy. The front page of the website not being updated to reflect the latest news seems kind of emblematic, in fact, of the feeling of stasis that has characterized Ultimate Poker pretty much from the get-go.
The news caused me over the weekend to look back at what I posted here on April 30, 2013, the day Ultimate Poker dealt its first hand in Nevada. Seems hard to believe that was only a little over a year-and-a-half ago, but as often happens in “poker time” things move quickly. And for UP, it all moved much too quickly, and mostly in the wrong direction.
In that post I was hopeful for UP, if not overly optimistic. My main concern then was that the site successfully operate “minus the scandals and other problems that became such a conspicuous part of our previous experience with online poker here in the States.”
It did that, I suppose -- the fact that the funds in all of the 25,000 NV accounts with money in them will be reclaimed (as the UP account tweeted) is a kind of faint silver lining. But as the tweets and forum posts have been spelling out in bits and pieces, while there was an adherence to the regulations that permitted the site to serve U.S. customers, the company’s management perhaps wasn’t quite as disciplined.
Terrence Chan’s thoughtful “post-mortem” video blog provides insight along those lines. Posts by “Union of the Snake” on 2+2 (here and here) provide some interesting reading as well, with the points made corresponding closely to those made by a “wise man” on a certain podcast just a few days before, one regular listeners know more often than not opens with an ’80s ear worm.
The slow-moving story of Online Poker 2.0 in the U.S. will continue pretty much as it had even when Ultimate Poker was still sitting short-stacked at a table full of short stacks. But the inauspicious launch and fall of the first to the table can’t be much of a source of encouragement for those still in the game.