April 15, 2011, Black Friday, is a date that will forever be remembered in the poker community as the day the online games all but died in the United States. Whether or not it earns its own nickname, perhaps April 30, 2013 will be a day poker players will never forget, as Ultimate Poker became the first legal, regulated real money online poker room in the United States to deal a hand of cards. Learn more in our Ultimate Poker Review.
The virtual cards will fly at 9:00am PT (Noon ET) and the site is already up and running for those who wish to create their accounts. Early reports are that registration is a fairly simple process, although some people have experienced technical difficulties.
Ultimate Poker requires players to provide their name, date of birth, address, mobile phone number, social security number, e-mail address, and payment information in order to register for an account. For those who still have land lines, the requirement of a mobile number may seem odd, but it is a key to the process. Ultimate Poker is an intrastate online poker room, meaning that all players must be located with the borders of Nevada in order to play.
Ultimate Poker Product Manager Chris Danek explained the role of the cell phone on Two Plus Two: “We triangulate the cell phone every time you log in and periodically while you play.”
Thus, anyone who visits Nevada can play as long as they have a cell phone, as Ultimate Poker will be able to figure out where they are located. The timing of the launch is likely not a coincidence, either as players making the trek to Las Vegas for the upcoming World Series of Poker will now be able to play online while not participating in the live tournament action.
As an added bonus, players can deposit and cash out at any Station casino, including Red Rock, Palace Station, Green Valley Ranch, and Boulder Station. In all, there are 15 Station casinos in the Las Vegas area. Deposits can also be made via electronic check, paper check, bank wire, and credit card.
The name of the site is derived from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which is owned by Fertitta Entertainment, the parent company of Station Casinos. Fertitta Interactive was granted an interactive gaming license by the Nevada Gaming Commission in October 2012.
“We are proud to be the first company to deliver legal and secure real money online gaming to poker players,” said Ultimate Poker Chairman Tom Breitling in a press release. “We have worked closely with state gaming regulators to demonstrate our unique and compelling poker platform that, above all, players know they can trust. Ultimate Poker is dedicated to being the players’ choice for online poker.”
That brings us to one of the interesting aspects of Ultimate Poker: the company developed its own software, unlike most of its competitors, which have partnered with software providers with existing products. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said today’s launch will be a beta test of sorts for Ultimate Poker. After 30 days, a report of the site’s activity will be reviewed by the Board. Ultimate Poker has promised to fix any problems immediately.
“This truly is new ground,” Burnett told the Review-Journal. “Everyone who meets the age criteria is welcome to test and play. The technology was certified by the independent testing labs and our technology staff. We were satisfied this is a viable product.”
That product was developed by U.S.-based CyberArts, which was acquired by Ultimate Gaming in 2011.
While it is not explicitly explained on the Ultimate Poker website, it does appear that players will be able to earn Boarding Pass Points for their play, the same loyalty system used by Station Casinos. Ultimate Poker is already promoting a weekly 1 Million Boarding Pass Points freeroll with daily qualifiers.
Earlier this month, Ultimate Poker signed Antonio Esfandiari(pictured) as its ambassador. Needless to say, he excited about today, saying, “This day has been a long time coming. Online poker in the United States is finally here and totally legit.”
Ultimate Gaming CEO Tobin Prior reminds everybody, though, that this is just the beginning, telling the NGC last month, “Being the first to launch is an honor, but it also comes with a big responsibility. Everyone will be watching us.