You’ve been there before. Your friends come over for a home game. You crack open a few beers, put on the big game, and realize you have no idea how many chips to distribute, how long the blind levels should be, or what prizes should be awarded. All of that hassle is gone with the free One of a Kind Appfor iOS devices in the App Store.
“I started with an app I wanted for personal use,” One of a Kind developer Donald Havas said. “Poker timers and apps you typically see have outdated designs. They do the job, but they’re nothing fancy. They don’t have flashy graphics. I was looking for a pure and modern design for an app.”
The app will initially target casual players and home games with 10 to 20 people.
“When you’re with your friends and family, when you start a game, people struggle to define a blind structure,” Havas said.
“Most of the apps I’ve seen allow people to set their own blind structure, but when I was with my friends, no one wanted to go through that burden. We wanted to spend a few minutes doing it and then start the game. In our app, you enter the number of players and how long you want to play and it’ll give you a blind structure to use. In the future, you’ll be able to modify everything, but in Version 1, we wanted the blind structure to be set for you.”
Only two steps are required to get a cash game or tournament underway with the One of a Kind app. It’ll even help you manage your chip set.
“People struggle to remember the value of each chip and figure out how many of each color to give out,” Havas said. “Our app will tell you exactly how many of each chip to give out and it will keep track of everything.” Notifications will pop up for events like level changes.
Havas called the tournament management app market fragmented, but still competitive.
“Finding and discovering good apps is very tough,” said Havas, a software engineer by trade with 17 years of experience. “You have tons of different poker timer apps. I would say there are 40 or 50 of them, and among those, I would say only three are professional apps. Some of them are just timers and do nothing else.”
The team at One of a Kind underwent usability studies to ensure the app, which is free, would be well-received. The focus was on providing ease of use, a unique experience, a value-add to a home game, and an end product that was not intrusive.
“It should be off to the side where you don’t have to pay attention to it,” Havas said. As Ron Popeil would say, “Set it and forget it.”
Havas is the lead developer on the One of a Kind project. He also has another developer assisting him as well as a part-time designer. The software has been in the works for the last year-and-a-half and the original concept was for One of a Kind to be a web-based program. However, Havas realized that players didn’t want a big laptop screen staring them in the face during a game and so transposed the design onto a mobile device. Seven months later, Version 1 was launched.
“I started by sketching and drawing designs,” Havas said. “I worked with a web designer, who translated the storyboards into a design form. That designer was in charge of providing navigation and graphical aspects. Then came challenges that mobile apps face like notifications, proper design, and making sure we extensively tested it. The app has to work on different iOS versions and we really wanted to provide something that was polished and bug-free. We spent time testing and certifying the app to make sure it’s responsive, fluid, fast, and does not have any bugs.”
Running home games without some sort of management software can be messy.
“When I was playing home games with friends, if we wanted to play a small tournament and only had a few hours, everyone would debate how to increase the blinds, but no one paid attention to increasing them during the game,” said Havas. “At the end of the night, no one was out because the structure wasn’t appropriate and we weren’t paying attention. We’d then increase blinds quickly to finish the game. We had fun, but the experience was broken. One of a Kind fixes it.”
In a future release of the One of a Kind app, the software will be fully integrated with Facebook, allowing users to organize games and recruit players using social media. Speaking of social media, you can follow the app’s progress on Twitter under the handle @ooakpoker.