In Feb 2014, Unibet Poker broke up with the Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) in a bid to create Relax Gaming, an independent poker network of its own. Although both MPN and Relax Gaming focus on casual poker players, Unibet wanted to start its own network simply because it wanted more control over the way things worked.
The new network has turned out to be a huge success. In Jan 2014, Andrew West became the company’s poker head, and recently, PokerNews.com interviewed West to find out more about the experience of launching a brand new network and making it work.
West strongly believes that casual players are very important to poker. Although poker pros give a poker network the volume it requires, it is the recreational players who attract more players and help to keep the system alive. West believes that a poker room should be as attractive to new players as possible. It should also be able to retain the recreational players it attracts.
According to West, poker’s major problem is its competitiveness. New players get discouraged faster because the existing players are better than ever and therefore enjoy a huge advantage over those new to the game. Since existing players use methods such as data mining and seating scripts, new players lose faster and quit even before they discover the fun of poker. West said that Relax Gaming aims at retaining new players for a longer time simply by making poker fun.
He said: “That means that new and casual players can discover the skill and fun in poker – and it’s important to note that poker is still a great game. By having more casual players, the high volume regulars will come by themselves.”
Unibet Poker was among the first major online poker networks to ban the use of third-party software that gave users a competitive edge over their opponents. According to West, this has served its purpose. New player at Unibet Poker last nearly a month while in the past they would last just a week. Players are now more enthusiastic about returning and using the other products at Unibet. In addition, Relax Gaming has made its promotions more effective to make its poker product more appealing.
At present, Unibet Poker is not planning to attract poker skins although it does serve to attract more new players. West said that Relax Gaming is not interested in that strategy right now.