Nevada’s current online poker operators are going to have quite a bit of company in the near future, as no less than three new online poker sites are expected to launch within the next year.
In the coming months 888 and Treasure Island (TI) are expected to join forces with WSOP.com and form the All American Poker Network in Nevada, as they battle against the two other current operators, Ultimate Poker and Real Gaming, for market share.
The third site expected to launch is more of a wildcard, HDPoker.
This impending expansion (the addition of 888, TI, and HDPoker) will double the number of operators in Nevada’s online poker market, creating a very crowded and hyper-competitive space.
However, in competitive markets it’s oftentimes the disruptors and the innovators who emerge victorious, which is why it may be HDPoker that makes the most waves in Nevada in 2015.
The History of HDPoker
HDPoker is an online poker platform designed by Z4 Poker – a sister company of Bingo & Keno provider Gaming Arts. HDPoker’s platform will serve as the online poker room for the Siena Hotel Spa Casino in Reno.
The Siena Hotel Spa Casino received approval for licensure as an interactive gaming operator in Nevada, and Z4 has been approved as a manufacturer and distributor of interactive gaming systems and as an interactive gaming service provider.
Regulatory wise HDPoker and Z4 are ready to go. Now it’s simply a matter of getting their product launched.
Z4 Poker was formed two years ago by Eric Colvin, who along with his father David Colvin, own Siena Hotel Spa Casino.
Seeing an opportunity to innovate in an industry he felt had grown stagnant, Colvin created Z4 Poker in the wake of Nevada’s online poker expansion in 2011.
HDPoker’s Matt Kaufman shares Colvin’s point of view, feeling the current online poker industry has grown stagnant, and failed to continue to keep up with the technology available: “Online poker software was far behind other types of games in terms of quality.” Kaufman continued on, saying, Colvin’s vision was for HDPoker to fill this perceived void with a “poker platform that made use of the technology and visual advancements that have been seen in video games but for some reason simply haven’t entered the online poker world.”
HDPoker adapts to the zeitgeist
HDPoker’s debut has been delayed due to the ever-changing gaming market, from the rise of mobile gaming to the onset of social gaming, and what began as an attempt to disrupt and reinvigorate online poker software (a daunting task in its own right) morphed into something far grander.
“In the two years that we’ve been building, the success of social games took off and was impossible to ignore,” Eric Colvin explained.
With social gaming shaking up the gaming industry, Colvin decided to expand the project midstream and incorporate more features into his software. “We began simultaneously developing play money and real money features within our client,” Colvin stated.
“The two target audiences have different preferences when it comes to software, and we cater separately to each group, Kaufman added. “Today, HDPoker is a fully cross-platform social poker app, available on iOS, Android, Facebook, Desktop, and Mac.”
Despite the reinvention of HDPoker as a cross-platform product, two years after he initially conceived the idea, Colvin’s vision is about to become a reality, as HDPoker is in the final stages of production and prepping for their beta launch, which is expected to occur in the coming weeks – you can sign up for the beta rollout at HDPoker.com.
Following the beta launch the company has plans for a full social rollout in December 2014, followed by a mobile (iOS and Android) launch in Q1 of 2015, and finally their real-money launch in Nevada, which they anticipate happening anywhere from six months to a year from now.
“The product that we started from scratch here in Las Vegas is very close to complete,” Kaufman said. “I think our game truly does look and feel modern in the way that Eric imagined it to begin with.”
A look at HDPoker
I had the opportunity to sample HDPoker at G2E and I was very impressed with the functionality and look of the product.
HDPoker is definitely not your father’s online poker software, as you can see below:
The “Saloon” is just one of 50 themes available.
Avatars feature incredible graphics and are highly customizable.
Unlike other platforms, HDPoker was designed from the start to function equally well on mobile devices and desktops: “Most operators don’t have mobile products at all, and the ones that do mostly took an existing downloadable desktop client and then had to shoehorn features into mobile versions,” Kaufman explained. “HDPoker was developed to be a cross-platform experience from day one.”
At launch, HDPoker will be available for iOS, Android, Facebook, Desktop and Mac. As Kaufman pointed out, “The only devices that can’t play on HDPoker are pretty much really old ones. Any reasonably modern device with any screen size and you’re good to go.”
HDPoker was designed so you could multi-table on your mobile devices. What this means for players is the ability to tile up to four tables on a tablet, or use the side-sweep option to multi-table on your smart phone (HDPoker has separate platforms for mobile and tablets) without running into formatting or space issues.
HDPoker is also aesthetically pleasing, “Visually, the game is very high quality 2D. We have about 50 detailed table themes, and tons of customizable avatars,” Kaufman indicated. “The avatars fall into 2 categories – ‘special’ ones which can’t be changed and our standard ones which are extremely customizable. You can change their faces, hair and hair color, clothing, and accessories – there are millions of possible combinations.”
As of writing, the only game available on HDPoker is No-Limit Texas Hold’em, but Colvin is confident more games will be available when they launch for real money: “In addition to No Limit Texas Hold’em, we’ll have at least Limit Hold’em, Omaha 8 or Better, and Pot-Limit Omaha ready before real money launch.”
Colvin doesn’t anticipate hitting any regulatory hurdles either: “One of the biggest differentiators between us and our competitors is that our backend architecture is extremely scalable and real-money ready,” Colvin stated. “So when we submit our software for real money approval we don’t believe we’ll need to make any significant changes.”