Connective Games: Taking a punt on online poker

Serge Mukhanov, CEO, Connective Games

It looks like a bleak summer for sports betting enthusiasts with all major events being called off, but that doesn’t mean players the world over aren’t looking for gambling entertainment opportunities.

The show most certainly goes on for online poker, which has experienced a boom since the start of the coronavirus outbreak as people with time on their hands search for alternate games.

Recent figures show a surge in online poker play during the global lockdown, with a 50% month-on-month rise at the end of March according to GameIntel. Statistics from Google Trends show that searches for “online poker” rocketed to an all-time high in April, while prize money has been shooting up thanks to record numbers of participants.

In contrast, sports betting has endured a miserable time with all the world’s major events having been cancelled or postponed. The Premier League and NBA are both suspended, while the French Open and Masters will be delayed until the autumn and this year’s Wimbledon and many Formula 1 races will not take place at all. Euro 2020 and the Olympic Games will now be held next year.

Generate excitement

The lack of events mean it’s been a disastrous period for those gambling operators who rely solely on betting.

These brands can benefit from a reliable new revenue stream in these troubling times through the addition of poker, according to Serge Mukhanov, CEO at leading online poker and casino platform provider Connective Games.

He said that poker has proved to be “more resistant to alterations in behaviour”, and explained that bettors are naturally drawn to this alternative vertical.

“If one compares poker and betting we see that the audience is similar in psychological and strategical features,” said Mukhanov.

“In poker, just like in sports betting, you need to skilfully manage your play, with good, informed decisions making a positive result more likely. Both generate excitement and offer the capability of earning money without leaving home.

“In addition, these types of gambling are available to a wide range of people on any device.”

Trust in technology

Marketing and technology are key to success for those switching into the poker vertical, according to Mukhanov.

Sites that prosper will be those that offer a stable, responsive mobile app or website and 24/7 support which can speedily resolve problems. For that reason, choosing a technology partner could be the brand’s most important decision.

While many suppliers will talk the talk, Mukhanov cautions that they should be able to walk the walk by demonstrating real-world achievements, whether that be testimonials from existing clients, their clients’ performance or success in major B2B awards for their product and service.

“Don’t settle for empty words,” Mukhanov said. “The software provider should be able to confirm their words and achievements by demonstrating their back office and show real-life examples of implementing their platform in different markets.

“The operator should look at the supplier’s presence in the market, and perhaps take into account which existing operators they already work with. Clearly, if a supplier works with successful brands it is indicative that they are performing well in terms of helping the site attract and retain players.”

Geographical reach

Mukhanov, whose company works with five of the world’s most popular poker rooms, said a technology supplier’s geographical reach is also important as a supplier that has had success in one region may not be able to offer the same service elsewhere.

He added: “The operator should also consider the flexibility of the supplier’s platform, for example to what extent is customisation available to ensure the site is right for their audience and fits in with their existing product.”

In a time of uncertainty as the world adapts to the post-Covid-19 era, the success of poker could be one safe bet.