Ultimate Poker Review – Ramping Up for Regulated US Poker

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Regulated online poker in the US is becoming a reality – three states have already cleared the path for online poker and more are actively considering it. Despite the favorable news and momentum for online poker over the past year, I’ve had difficulty grasping this new reality. That started to change last month when I visited the offices of Ultimate Poker in Las Vegas. Ultimate Poker and its parent company, Fertitta Interactive, are clearly gearing up for a market opportunity that is very real and potentially massive. This Ultimate Poker review will give a sneak peak at what is currently happening behind the scenes.

Fertitta Interactive is majority owned by Station Casinos. As you may know, the Station Casinos are owned by the Fertitta brothers, the same duo that owns the UFC. In the cab on the way to meet with Ultimate Poker I assumed I was going to Fertitta’s headquarters. I expected to be surrounded by UFC paraphernalia while meeting with the poker team in a tucked-away corner of the office. After all, there is currently no real market for them in the U.S., so I wasn’t expecting much.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Ultimate Poker already has its own office (pictured below) – a 20,000 square foot warehouse just off the Strip behind CityCenter.

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Fertitta is not starting small and feeling things out. They are making a huge investment early to try to become the major player in regulated U.S. online poker. As you can see from the pictures, the office is still being built out, but there are already various salaried employees grinding away in the offices that line the walls of the main room.

These salaried employees are not random casino guys with no online experience – many of them have worked in some capacity with PokerStars over the years. I met with Joe Versaci, whom Adam Small and I had met with various times when he was the head of North American marketing for PokerStars. Joe is joined at Ultimate Poker by PokerStars vet Scott Yeates, one of the minds behind the beloved PokerStars VIP Program. Then there’s Terrence TChan Chan, who started his career by building PokerStars’ support team before going on to become a professional poker player and MMA fighter. These guys definitely know what they are doing.

For software, Fertitta Interactive purchased CyberArts, a gaming software company that has been in the business since 1995. The purchase of CyberArts positions the Ultimate Gaming brand to compete in various gaming markets across several platforms worldwide, but the focus will be on regulated online poker in the United States. CyberArts’ CEO Chris Derossi stayed on to lead Ultimate Poker’s software team.

Ultimate Poker is bullish on the prospects of a compact forming quickly as states review their options and realize the added benefits of increased liquidity. They weren’t able to share any specific projections on a number of states in the near future, but the amount of resources they are pouring into this is telling.

I haven’t spoken much with the other companies that have received Nevada licenses, but I hope to find others making a similar investment. It’s going to be a long road, but the Fertitta brothers are ready for that. They’ve already persevered through a similar state-by-state regulation battle with UFC. PocketFives will keep you updated on all the state by state regulation news as it breaks. For now, we can all take some comfort in the fact that a strong, reputable group like Fertitta is making a major investment in regulated US online poker.

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42 COMMENTS

          • I don’t give a damn what it’s called I just wanna know my money is safe and I can do P2P transfers FFS!!!!!

          • Great to see this level of investment – but next time you’re there Cal, have someone Google “Ultimate Bet”….no wait, have them search the P5’s forums for “ultimate bet” – FFS!! I mean, yeah, I get it, they want to get some of that UFC name recognition – but seriously, poor choice on the name – best of luck to you guys anyway!!!

          • Ultimate Poker lmao…who is the idiot who made that name. Yeah lets make it sound like those scam artists at Ultimate Bet. God I would love to see the list of names they came up with before choosing this one..

          • Ultimate Poker lmao…who is the idiot who made that name. Yeah lets make it sound like those scam artists at Ultimate Bet. God I would love to see the list of names they came up with before choosing this one..

            I don’t think they gave it any thought
            They’re just use to the word Ultimate
            UFC Ultimate fighting championship

          • What kind of avatars are they going to use??? 😉

            “If you win this tournament you will become a soaring Eagle.”

            Oh wait, that’s FTPs current avatar crap.

            Obviously avatars are very important.

          • hmmm. lets think…. the brothers own UFC…Ultimate Fighting Championship. Guess maybe thats where they came up with the Ultimate name.

          • I don’t give a damn what it’s called I just wanna know my money is safe and I can do P2P transfers FFS!!!!!

            this.

            but calling it Ultimate Poker is one of the dumbest thing i’ve ever heard. the guy who did that should be swiftly kicked in the nuts.

          • Ultimate bet was a big sponsor for UFC along with full tilt. They must have some idea of the issues UB had and using ultimate in the name horrible from a marketing stand point.

          • keep the rest of them for all i care, can we just bring back stars?

            PLEASE LORD! 1TIME

            OK THERE I USED IT!

          • Ya, prolly should divorce the memorys, and let the UFC brothers stain our brains with something that makes us forget ther other ultimate….

            And theres probably bigger entities, MUCH bigger lookin/plannin poker stuffs…The big boom is coming..

          • No one will give a damn about the name if it’s legal.

            Yea seriously. If I can depo/withdrawal safely and play an MTT that actually has more than 50 ppl then I’m stoked.

          • The name is OK, but like others have said, too close to Ultimate Bet but I get the whole “Ultimate Fighting Championship” and “Ultimate Poker” thing they have going on. Also, if that’s the software (from the 1st pic in the article) I dislike the look of the site already, looks too much like cake poker and I absolutely hate the cake poker software.

          • definitely not gunna send my money to a company that needs to buy and rent office space. Why cant they just find something already set up? Who starts from scratch?? Thats something I could do in my basement

          • What kind of time frame are we talking? None of the articles mention it. So excited considering I moved to Vegas two months before Black Friday 🙁

          • What kind of time frame are we talking? None of the articles mention it. So excited considering I moved to Vegas two months before Black Friday 🙁

            There is no set timeline as of now for the Nevada launch as of now- that is in the hands of the Nevada Gaming Commission. As soon as they get the green light Ultimate and others will be live. My personal guess is sometime later this year, but it’s just a guess.

          • I think these guys know what they’re doing and are probably laughing at how everyone doesn’t like the name. I agree. It’s a f**n name. Who cares about the losers from the past. Going to be difficult either way, I would give their investment 3-5 years before they see big gains.

          • Yea seriously. If I can depo/withdrawal safely and play an MTT that actually has more than 50 ppl then I’m stoked.

            ^^^^^+1

          • well time will tell. but still i wont make a deposit on that site. every site i have ever played on has burnt me one way or the other and i dont mean the donks i have played against i mean the site itself. but it sure would be nice to finally be able to play without the worries of the past. oh and when i saw the name i got sick lol. and is the AGA capitable of regulating online poker and the random number generator. i wonder what steps have been taken by AGA to do this. the only way i would play is for free real money thru freerolls and such. with that said its about time.

          • I think going on about the name is really missing the point. Their target audience doesn’t primarily consist the people who got burned in the past by UB. Obviously there will be some overlap, but they’re going to be looking to capitalize on the popularity of the UFC brand and the new legal/regulated environment to bring new customers into the game. Just imagine the synergies they’re going to have advertising Ultimate Poker for UFC fans. I’m sure there will be some old customers of the online gaming market who stay away simply because it has a similar name to an unrelated and now-defunct site. But I don’t think that’s really a big concern of theirs

          • I think going on about the name is really missing the point. Their target audience doesn’t primarily consist the people who got burned in the past by UB. Obviously there will be some overlap, but they’re going to be looking to capitalize on the popularity of the UFC brand and the new legal/regulated environment to bring new customers into the game. Just imagine the synergies they’re going to have advertising Ultimate Poker for UFC fans. I’m sure there will be some old customers of the online gaming market who stay away simply because it has a similar name to an unrelated and now-defunct site. But I don’t think that’s really a big concern of theirs

            Exactly how i was looking at this news. Not sure how this could be a bad thing because they bought the UFC from the Gracie’s when it was on the brink of folding up. Look at it now their on Fox. Spike and countless paperviews. They also purchased their rival of one time PRIDE. I think they are smart enough to pull of a decent site and the worse thing that could happen would be getting the ball rolling for on-line poker competition.

          • Exactly. I don’t think existing players will care what the site is called if Ultimate is able to leverage that brand to bring in droves of neophyte players.

            I think going on about the name is really missing the point. Their target audience doesn’t primarily consist the people who got burned in the past by UB. Obviously there will be some overlap, but they’re going to be looking to capitalize on the popularity of the UFC brand and the new legal/regulated environment to bring new customers into the game. Just imagine the synergies they’re going to have advertising Ultimate Poker for UFC fans. I’m sure there will be some old customers of the online gaming market who stay away simply because it has a similar name to an unrelated and now-defunct site. But I don’t think that’s really a big concern of theirs

          • I think going on about the name is really missing the point. Their target audience doesn’t primarily consist the people who got burned in the past by UB. Obviously there will be some overlap, but they’re going to be looking to capitalize on the popularity of the UFC brand and the new legal/regulated environment to bring new customers into the game. Just imagine the synergies they’re going to have advertising Ultimate Poker for UFC fans. I’m sure there will be some old customers of the online gaming market who stay away simply because it has a similar name to an unrelated and now-defunct site. But I don’t think that’s really a big concern of theirs

            Exactly. I don’t think existing players will care what the site is called if Ultimate is able to leverage that brand to bring in droves of noobs.

          • Noone’s mentioned this yet, but kinda scary where it may be going.

            Triangulate our “cell” everytime we log in? So they know exactly where we are when were playing. Privacy issues?

          • Agreed; doesn’t seem like they market tested that name (yikes). Hard to disassociate with UB :(-

      • tripseekerx, agree with you on both accounts. Awesome for Nevada poker, but when I read the site name, I have a bad taste in my mouth from thinking about Ultimate Bet.

        Wow I completely agree with everyone for a change. Very BAD choice of a name!