Damn the U.S., it's full-speed ahead. Yahoo!, or more specifically Yahoo! UK, the European English-language version of the site, has launched a real-money poker site, a skin on St. Minver Ltd's International Poker Network. That's an exceptionally juicy network that features fish farms such as Poker Heaven, among other sites, but it's all sadly out of U.S. players' current reach.
It is important, though, because it represents the first move by a major online portal into live-cash poker. Yahoo! has long been a leader in creating online gaming networks, as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of players that can be found at any moment participating in the many offerings under the 'Yahoo! Games' banner. Poker's now there, too, at least for non-U.S. players.
Think the other big online portals aren't looking at this right now? Think what the Googles and AO-Hells of the world could do; Google attracts even more visitors than Yahoo! at the present time. Branding an online site with one of these behemoths guarantees visibility magnitudes beyond that available to most other online sites... even the big boys.
As for Yahoo! UK Poker, they're currently offering one of those huge-dollar, slow-w-w-w clearance signup bonuses typical of underutilized networks. (That ought to be funny, as waves of new fishies discover the joys of clearing an all-but-unclearable bonus for the first time.) Yahoo! UK Poker has also brough on its first spokesperson, a perky-cute London radio celeb named Sam Mann (right) who made it to the semifinals of the Brit program "Celebrity Poker." Maybe she can even play poker, too. [photo source: Yahoo! UK Poker]
But it's the marriage of mainstream portal and real-money online poker that's the BIG story, no doubt about it. If it's successful, it could reshape the entire industry.