A new, innovative – and reportedly totally legal for U.S. players – poker site aims to bridge the gap between the play-money gambler and the real-money one, and they’re doing this by actually giving you bankroll, for free.
Giving You Bankroll
Before you get too excited, that bankroll is only a quarter. But given that, according to the website, you can get a new shiny one each day, and can cash out once you hit $50, it at least gives the game a semblance of seriousness. If you go bust, you have to wait 24 hours to get back in action with another quarter.
The unusual website is called Quarter Poker, and because you’re not depositing money at any time, it claims to be legal in every U.S. state. Of course, as it’s never been done before quite like this, that remains to be seen.
But Who Is This Guy?
Try though we did – erstwhile investigative reporters that we are – we could not find, in concrete anywhere, the names of the guys who came up with this idea, or where their funding is coming from either. We had to piece together bits of PR and news to even come up with the name of the guy in the pitch video: Alex Klinghoffer. At least, we thought it was the same guy; the somewhat grainy bio picture on his personal website looks like it could be the same guy, but his resume and bio bear no mention whatsoever of the QP site. We finally followed a link on his website that took us to his Facebook page that had one mention of QP going live, and some pictures with a beautiful girlfriend and some pretty well-heeled looking young men. It says he’s in Kansas. Maybe he’s a trust fund baby, but not mentioning your capital source for a new site, or any partners, or even yourself, is odd to say the least.
That being said, Klinghoffer does star in his website’s promo video, which is about as slick as the typical made-at-home ones many online marketers post.
All we can say is, we’ve covered enough online site launches to say that, if not actually fishy, this way of launching is not the norm. It begs the question: what’s not being said here? On the other hand, we do see Klinghoffer answering questions directly on various poker forums, so who knows, maybe he just sucks at self-promotion.
QP claims they won’t make money on the site until they have enough players to attract advertisers; they also hint at a future membership fee, but for now, it’s free.
That’s the good news. Now here’s the not-so-good news. In the site’s FAQs, they say they built the site themselves, and based on some of the early player Facebook comments, it shows. Looks like they quietly launched on Sept. 29, and as of October 10 (12 days later), they noted they were still waiting for a player to actually cash out the $50. We grant you, with small tournament tables and the chance to win about $1.25 for first, that could take awhile, and you’d have to be running like an Ethiopian marathoner to make it there before 2015. But that’s the least of their problems so far.
A sampling of Facebook comments on their page – and there aren’t many – were mostly frustrated with disconnection issues and unpopulated tables (the site does say in their FAQs that they are using bots – the equivalent of shills at a land table – until they pull in enough players to stop using them).
And although they say you can cash out at $50, for now anyway, you will only be receiving a 2:1 ratio, i.e., $25 in your actual cashout. Again, they blame this on a small initial start-up base and say that will change over time and with the addition of membership fees. You can, theoretically anyway, partake in 6, 10, and 20-player Sit and Go tournaments; no cash games are mentioned at present, though reportedly the site’s operators will consider that, as well as MTTs, down the line. The software is said to run in web browsers (we did see a few comments blasting the performance of same on the QP Facebook page), so no downloads are required.
Now let’s get to the real elephant in the room: the legal angle. Klinghoffer is reportedly quoted as saying that “we had the model approved by one of the top gaming attorneys in the country. And while the reason is actually kind of complicated, it boils down to the fact that this isn’t gambling.”
Didn’t someone mention their “solid” legal counsel after handing over millions to the Department of Justice to avoid a lengthy prison term? Hmmm.
Which then begs the question why you must be 18 to play on the site. Zynga, for example, only requires that you be 13, and that’s presumably more so some hysterical parent doesn’t come after them than due to any gambling technicalities they could get nailed for.
But then again Zynga – in the U.S. at least – is 100 percent play money.