Friday, September 29, 2006

The Titan Poker Promotional Shuffle

Here's something I admire: a poker site that's willing to try things in an effort to discover a new magic formula for commercial success. I'm going to have to give it up for Titan Poker ( in tonight's post, not that I spend a whole lot of time on the site. Nonetheless, they're giving it the old college shot, coming up with several new promotional ideas that, while they might not work out, are at least interesting concepts.

The most interesting is Titan's new "Million Dollar Sit 'N' Go." It's one of those everyman's-dream ideas, wherein the first 20 players that make three consecutiive final tables (out of a list of mostly $10 and $20-entry events), win one of 20 seats into this million-dollar giveaway. I like it, as a marketing concept. It's the dangling of big cash for a very modest investment, and it comes with something that a lot of promotional ideas overlook... the inexpensive escape clause. If you play a few and don't make a run or get hooked on the concept, then, hey --- stop playing!

Titan's also the first of the iPoker skins to announce an improvement in what we can presume to be the basic iPoker tournament structure --- they (iPoker) have now increased the starting chip stacks in their tourneys from 1,000 to 1,500 chips. In light of the million-dollar promotion, this iPoker change couldn't come at a better time. The worst surface drawback to giving the million-dollar baby a whirl was iPoker's sucky structure --- with shallow starting chip stacks and rapidly increasing blinds (among the worst in the biz), these things have always been crapshoots.

And that's another reason Titan deserves a positive mention. After all, being tied to iPoker has always mean that they've had to try to make a silk purse out of the proverbial sow's ear of all poker-software backbones. The iPoker software has always been clunky, counter-intuitive to the user, and let's not forget an issue we reported on a few months back wherein it was discovered that the system passwords for the users were being stored as plain text, rather than in an encrypted fashion. iPoker responded to the hullabaloo by declaring that it was only the play-money password that was uncrypted, but that was clearly b.s. --- no site requires separate passwords for play-vs.-real money use. In any event, iPoker did go ahead and rectify the situation, showing that, yeah, they do read the press clippings. So your passwords are safe, now.

But it hasn't been all roses for Titan either. There was a situation a few months back where a person qualified as a winner of the iPoker "Rio Sit-'N'-Go Jackpot" promotion, and was denied a sizeable payday on very questionable "collusion" grounds. That one was a judgment call, but I'm not aware that iPoker ot the sponsoring skin (I believe it was Titan), ever made a clarifying statement on the matter. And as I said, I believe it was a Titan player, though it might also have been a Noble or CD Poker player; I disremember the details and am disinclined to look. In the larger sense, it didn't matter --- it threw a cloud over the whole "Jackpot" program.

Another example was that laughable $500,000,000 million freeroll or whatever it was --- where all that money was yours, if you hit a royal flush at the final table. Not only were the odds extreme, but for me that promotion ran into that ephemeral wall where we trust the honesty of the online game. While it's easy enough for someone like iPoker (with contributions from the skins), to purchase a Lloyd's of London-style insurance policy based on the risk, it's also easy to imagine a server failure if the table cards happened to produce that improbable royal flush. I don't believe that such a thing would have happened, but the ridiculously high stakes would have at least created the incentive. Reality? No. But dark fears are a very real part of the online game, even for those who have been around for a while and know what's what. The fear of the unknown, the sense of the detachment --- these are all parts of the human psyche.

Those facets of human nature made for a bad fit with that marketing concept; it was one of those 6-sigma things where the outliers were just too high. I looked at the promotion, decided I didn't need to chase dreams quite that wild, and wandered elsewhere. I'm guessing other players did the same: after the initial appearwnce of the press releases on those sites that just grab any poker-newsy info, it faded rapidly from sight.

And that's where the current concept succeeds. It's much more believable, is far easier to quantify as you try your luck, and might just attract a few new or returning players, despite the weight of the iPoker yoke.

At the least, it got my interest.

1 comment:

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