The first of network of its kind, the non-profit Equity Poker Network went live today with real money games. Although real money gaming only started today, the first operating skin of Full Flush Poker had a soft launch earlier this fall with freerolls running to test out the new system. IntegerPoker, a second skin, has also launched, aimed primarily at regulated EU markets. And in what’s been termed a revolutionary move, the Equity Poker Network, or EPN for short, is the first non-profit, peer to peer online poker network – a network that promises to level the playing field in the online gaming industry while simultaneously providing a higher return to operators. EPN has been in development for nearly a decade and has been tailored to provide secure, efficient service to operators the world over, regardless of currency of language. Aimed at being transparent, EPN uses Playsafe software with an array of functionalities, all intended to unify gaming operations amongst its rooms or “skins” while still allowing the skins to have their own unique features and rules.
At the root of the system is the “cooperative,” which is the loosely linked management team of operators with their own skins, and with voting power and profit return based on market share. Of particular interest to operators are the relatively low, fixed monthly fees (approximately $10,000 per month) and what is known as a “shark tax” – a measure to prevent competing operators from bringing too many professionals into the network. This attempt to balance the play in poker rooms is also sure to attract players, who have frequently complained about poker rooms being unfairly stacked with professional poker players poached from other rooms. Another feature to prevent player poaching from competing skins, players are only allowed to have one account on the network, meaning players cannot jump from skin to skin opening new accounts with different skins. Founder Clive Archer cites EPN’s intention to rewrite the rules “to provide small and medium size businesses with an opportunity to offer their players online poker without losing their shirts each month to cross cage and sharp players.” Also of interest to players is the system’s “clearing house” function, which holds funds in escrow, effectively insuring against one operator’s failure and giving players peace of mind about the security of their money. Despite all this “networking,” the system also provides a certain level of autonomy to its operator members, allowing them to decide how to design tournaments and how to dispense rewards and bonuses, including rakebacks (with some restriction). Certain services can be contracted out through the network, if the operator so desires, but otherwise, much of the process and function is left to the operator’s discretion.
This innovative poker network model comes after much complaining regarding the online poker world’s excessive start up costs, unreasonable competition and unbalanced network ecology for poker rooms sharing a pooled player base. Industry veteran Archer is at the forefront of the movement towards sustainable yet profitable poker network model for operators, as well as exciting yet fair play for the average poker player.
The gaming industry has been abuzz since EPN’s announcement, noting its fresh take on the network-operator dynamic, and with real money gaming going live today, players and operators around the world are gearing up to try out this new poker model.