A real money social poker experience? Why does that sound familiar?
The first regulated real money poker app
Today I am talking to Manuel Lopes, CEO of Pokio, a European-based real money poker app about their brand new partnership with The Festival Series. In Lopes’ own words:
“There are a lot of fantastic apps in the market where people use play money, but in our case we are regulated. We were the first mobile poker app to get regulated, so you can pay just like you would on any other poker room - there’s no agent or anything. And then you have the experience for the player - it’s something totally different from the classic poker room because we don’t have a lobby system, we have a club system, where you either join a club or you open your own club and invite your friends to play. So we are very well integrated with social media - you can share anything from the game on any social network with one click, and also invite friends to join you and play. Also, for you as a club owner, you get most of the revenue, like even a lot more than us! So what we are doing is that we completely took the rakeback out of the picture and we don’t reward players for their game play - basically, you’re running your own little poker room.”
90% recreational players
Manuel is very enthusiastic about the format and philosophy of The Festival Series. “Apart from working in the industry,” he says, “I’m also quite an enthusiastic poker player - not that good, but, you know! - and I’m good friends with Franke and Mauritz, in the past I’ve attended the events that they’ve organised. So from the beginning when I saw the model for The Festival - where it’s not only poker but also casino, sportsbook - I thought that it was genius. Because that’s what you want right now - you want to bring new stuff into the market. Agreeing the partnership took five minutes, there was no negotiation - we immediately said yes, because it really reflects the values that we want. It’s fun. Ninety percent of our players are recreational players; I’m a recreational player myself. And we believe that The Festival will be the same - people who enjoy playing, but it’s not going to be a tournament where people will be, you know, with their sunglasses, all quiet… So I think Slovakia will need to be prepared, because I think those guys are not going to sleep a lot!” Indeed.
Satellites for The Festival on the horizon
With the partnership having been only recently announced, Pokio are still working on the formats for qualifiers, but they will be approaching them with characteristic creativity and a focus on fun. “We’re open to doing a package satellite, or even ticket-only, because we have quite a good local group of players in Slovakia,” Manuel tells me. “We’re the only real money poker app in the app store in Slovakia. We still haven’t decided the timeline because as you know this decision to partner up with The Festival is very recent, but we’ll be releasing news very soon. We’re doing some very interesting things - I can give you a few hints! For example, we’ve had some tests in doing ladies’ events so we can do satellites only for female players. We have some crazy games on our platform that I know the regulars at The Festival will like - we have Open Face Chinese, we have Sviten Special, we have Four or Five Card PLO… So I’m sure we can do something around those formats as well.”
Has Pokio got anything special planned for their Bratislava qualifiers on the social front? “Not yet,” Manuel says, “But I would really like to do something! Although hopefully in September we will be allowed to do a wider range of things, right now we are quite limited with the restrictions and stuff like that, but I know there are going to be some cool activities organised by The Festival, so we’re trying to see how we can be a part of that. The big advantage is that our platform - although we’re not 100% mobile any more, you can play at home on your PC if you want - but over 90% of our players play on mobile. So that means if there’s any other kind of activity that The Festival organize, whether it’s gambling or a social gathering, a player always has their phone with them so we can always interact with them.”
I am very much looking forward to seeing what Pokio come up with for The Festival in Bratislava - until then, watch this space.