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Found 3 results

  1. "In 2004 poker was in such a boom you couldn’t walk into a 7/11 without seeing a display of chips and cards and stuff like that." When it comes to the rise of poker, and more specifically online poker, few have the same perspective of Dan Goldman, the one-time Chief Marketing Officer for the, then, fledgling online poker site PokerStars. Back in the pre-Moneymaker days Goldman and his team were tasked with finding a way to not just overtake the industry-leading Paradise Poker but also, make online poker more acceptable to the masses. Goldman wasn’t just "around" for the Moneymaker effect, he was in the room, watching the final table when Chris Moneymaker bested Sammy Farha to become the 2003 World Series of Poker Champion, helping elevate online poker to heights no one could have predicted. "I was regularly asked what the things are that drove this boom and I always said there were three things," Goldman recalls. "One of them was online poker. One of them was Chris Moneymaker winning the World Series. And the third was poker on television actually becoming interesting." Goldman was at the helm of marketing for PokerStars from 2002-2007 and has 17 years of internet gaming experience. Now, over a decade after helping make the PokerStars brand the industry leader it is, he’s back in the saddle, taking on the new challenge of introducing a whole new generation of players to the world of crypto poker and blockchain poker as CMO for upstart online poker operator Virtue Poker. It turns out, that despite the evolution of the online poker industry - some challenges remain the same. Goldman recalls going to conferences or sitting around the poker table trying to convince people that online poker was the future of the game, but having to answer all the same questions. "Number one: how do I know that I’m not playing against one guy, sitting with eight computers and he can see all cards but mine. Number two: how do I know that the site isn’t just rigging the deck so that I lose? And number three: how do I know that they’re not going to steal my money?" "The truth is, it was pretty hard to combat any of those things. Goldman said. Here we are 16 years later and the funny thing is the same arguments still come up every day…the difference now is that there’s evidence that there is such a thing as a superuser account, practical evidence that sites steal player’s money. In 2002, people were just suspicious now they know that these things can happen but we’re finally at the stage where we have technology that is capable of preventing these things from happening." Goldman asserts that he's in a similar situation from back in 2002, having to still answer those questions, but that Virtue is using technology – specifically the blockchain – to help change the game through security. "The thing that keeps typical players away is that they are afraid. That they feel like the chance that they are being cheated is high, the chance that they have their money stolen is high and they have clear evidence to support that." The idea the Virtue Poker team is working on is decentralization of the poker experience through the use of smart contracts and the blockchain. "The way our system works is we don’t have a trusted third party. If you are playing, you sit at a table or you enter a tournament, what happens is you have a wallet that has Ether or Bitcoin or Litecoin and you want to play in a tournament that costs $100 to play in. You sign up for that tournament but you don’t send $100 to Virtue Poker. What you do is you commit that $100 from your wallet in a smart contract that is mediated on the blockchain by everybody else." Win or lose, at the end of the tournament, the smart contract is enabled and the prize pool funds are distributed. According to Goldman, there's a next-level of security for player funds that comes without having that trusted third party holding on to funds that, should they go under or decide to skip town, players would lose. A story that's been told a number of times in the history of online poker. "In no case have you transferred control of that money to any other trusted third party. All you’ve done is deposit that money in a smart contract that can be arbitrated by the millions of people that have participated in the Ethereum blockchain." The safety of player funds is just one of the ways Goldman says that Virtue Poker is attempting to address the questions that have weighed on the minds of the casual online poker player. "What players care about in my experience is they want to know they’re not being cheated, they want to know that no one else can see their cards and they want to know that their money is safe," Goldman says. "We are also attacking the issue of fairness, game safety and making sure that the site isn’t hacked. We’re using some unique technology that we’ve built so that when the deck is shuffled, instead of sitting on a central server somewhere, which can be hacked, we have every player in the hand participate in shuffling the deck." Goldman says that through the use of encryption, that players won't be reliant on that third party to make sure the deal is above board. So while Goldman is optimistic that Virtue will deliver on an online product that will help advance the technology of online poker, he's still one of the guys who is going to have to try and bring it to not just the hardcore poker community, but those who have stayed away in recent years. "One of the questions I’m asked all of the time is: ‘Is there going to be another poker boom?’ and up until a few months ago I was skeptical that there was ever going to be an opportunity to be a new poker boom because of the questions that have been raised by the twenty years of online poker that we’ve had so far are so serious and so alarming to players that I just didn’t believe," Goldman said. "Using the blockchain is that seismic thing that could change the future of online poker." Goldman acknowledges that it's going to take more than blockchain poker to ignite the wick of a new poker boom, poker would likely have to come back to the U.S. In a meaningful way, but he's now more optimistic than he has been in years. His current situation also poses another similarity to the pre-poker boom era. "When I started at PokerStars our primary deposit method was PayPal and people were very skeptical about PayPal." In order to get people to play on Virtue Poker, he's going to have to get them comfortable with crypto. "Clearly we are depending on the broader acceptance of cryptocurrency to help drive our business and that is absolutely going to be a struggle. We are going to have to teach people how to buy cryptocurrency. Our typical customer, one year from today, will be somebody that bought cryptocurrency for the first time specifically to play on our site." "I have no doubt that in a year, we will have introduced most of our customers to crypto. Four years from now, that won’t be the case." For Goldman, it's challenge accepted. While online poker is now a well-established entity, the idea of blockchain poker is a new frontier. And while it's unlikely that the universe will deliver another Moneymaker-like boom, Goldman has the tools he needs to help usher in what Virtue Poker hopes will be the next generation of online poker.
  2. Virtue Poker’s foray into the online poker landscape features a brand new initiative not yet attempted in the marketplace. The primary currency of Virtue Poker is the cryptocurrency Ethereum. By combining the security of blockchain technology with the convenience of online poker, Virtue Poker’s business model relies on customer faith in a rocky marketplace. How Does It Work? Player security is a topic that Head of Business Development and Marketing for Virtue Poker Ryan Gittleson thinks about often. Security breaches on more notable websites led Gittleson to brainstorm ways to prevent the same from happening to Virtue Poker when it came time to build the product. The answer for Gittleson was Smart Contracts, a form of peer-to-peer software. All items from the virtual deck to the prize pool for a tournament reside on a Smart Contract. When a Sit-n-Go takes place on Virtue Poker, all funds that comprise the prize pool are stored on an individual Smart Contract. The Smart Contract carries an algorithm designed to know when a certain aspect of the tournament has taken place. “A Smart Contract is a tool to reduce risk from players when they deposit online,” Gittleson explained. “Smart contracts are a short-term escrow agent. For example, in a Sit-n-Go, the contracts know when a player has won and distributes the prizes.” The standard online poker operating procedure is to store all user information along with the tools of the site, like the prize pool, on a server. According to Gittleson, Smart Contracts are tamper-proof. Virtue Poker is unable to see cards at a given table nor can they access a player’s fund. How Does Money Go On? The next level in the use of a Smart Contract starts when a player first opens their Virtue Poker account. A method of storing money in a virtual bank on a server doesn’t apply to players on Virtue Poker. A personal wallet is created when a player creates their screen name and then deposits Ethereum on the website. The wallet, similar to My Ether Wallet or another virtual balance holder, is exclusive to that player. Upon sitting down at a cash game, monies are withdrawn from the wallet and any winnings end up deposited into it. There is no pool comprised of every player’s funds from the site. For the purposes of compliance, players cannot connect their external wallet to Virtue Poker. The site creates a new wallet for every player that signs up. How to Bring Player’s to the Site Gittleson is adamant that player security is one of the number-one priorities for Virtue Poker. “The mantra is consumer protection and ensuring that the token is more a consumer good instead of a digital asset. We are a part of the industry-wide group in setting those standards,” Gittleson said. One of Gittleson’s goals for the upcoming months is to broaden the marketing scope for Virtue Poker. Through the use of content marketing, Gittleson hopes to attract players who may not be familiar with cryptocurrency but are wanting to experience a fair gaming environment. “We’re trying to take these complex technologies and explain them in easy ways. The challenges we face is what’s going on under the hood is not what’s going on under the hood on other sites.” Virtue Poker expects to put the finishing touches on animated short in the upcoming months to help relay the message of what the company is offering to customers. When Do The Lights Turn On? The app rolls out on desktops in May of 2018. Mobile is coming in 2019, says Gittleson. The finishing touches are being put on the website now with table layout the current focus. Virtue Poker is also in the midst of a token sale with the goal being to raise $12.5 million and participants have certain perks waiting for them online, Gittleson mentioned. Confidence from the customer base is what Virtue Poker strives for. When the product releases this spring, all eyes are on Virtue Poker to see if they are able to build on their already strong foundation.
  3. There’s a new player in the online poker world and it happens belong to an office located in Brooklyn, NY. Virtue Poker is preparing for its formal launch in May as an online poker site based solely in the cryptocurrency space. Started by parent company ConsenSys in 2015, Virtue Poker relies on the Ethereum blockchain for transactions between players and the host. There is no server holding monies for players, only a wallet that a player opens when they create their account. As Head of Business Development and Marketing for Virtue Poker Ryan Gittleson puts it, the software is “immutable, transparent and tamper-proof.” With years of research and development sitting behind it, Virtue Poker is ready to move forward into the official online poker marketplace. The company’s modest beginning played a role in where it is today. The Start ConsenSys founder Joe Lubin is a huge believer in blockchain technology. So much so, that Lubin is credited with being a co-founder of Ethereum. The net worth of at least $1 billion owned by Lubin is distributed across the 47 start-ups owned by the ConsenSys incubator. Virtue Poker is one of those start-ups. A full operation in its own right, ConsenSys has 750 employees of its own with 100 of them based in New York City. Many of the projects ConsenSys incubates work side-by-side in one of the six offices the company has spread from New York to Bucharest to Dubai. According to Gittleson, ConsenSys helped to develop the prototype and business model for Virtue Poker along with initial funding. Virtue Poker has 17 employees spread out across the globe. The Key People Gittleson credits a multitude of folks for getting Virtue Poker to where it is today. 2017 was the year for Virtue Poker to add more poker-related members to their team. There are currently 12 project managers and developers on staff. Virtue Poker hired former members of the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker teams to assist with creating a quality client-facing product. The product created by developers have put in front of the three brand ambassadors for Virtue Poker. All three in the top-10 all-time in career tournament earnings and are led by Brian Rast. Soon after Rast signed on, Dan Colman reached out to Virtue Poker and was soon on the roster. The last get was the hardest and that is to be expected from Phil Ivey. Gittleson flew to Hong Kong in the middle of 2017 and spent a week with Ivey to coax him into joining the mission. The paperwork was signed and Ivey jumped onboard with his latest endeavor as an ambassador. Gittleson sends all three players a blueprint and beta version of designs for Virtue Poker and engages in feedback before making a final decision. The Brooklyn Project ConsenSys is harnessing their New York energy in the form of the Brooklyn Project. Virtue Poker’s goal is to provide the best consumer protection in online poker and the Brooklyn Project allows for this to happen. The idea behind the Brooklyn Project is a base for setting the guidelines for the best in consumer protection within the token economy. Gittleson says the goal behind the project is for all ConsenSys’ users to have the utmost knowledge of the projects they are engaged with. Details like wallets, reading the Whitepaper, and understanding the token transfer process are part of what allows the Brooklyn Project to thrive in shielding their customers. An informed customer can make good decisions to protect themselves, is the general reasoning from ConsenSys. What Does This Equal The mantra behind Virtue Poker is they are the same body as every other online poker company but what's under the hood is what separates them. In Part II of the Virtue Poker series, learn about how the company is planning to change the game with their groundbreaking use of blockchain technology.
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