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Kevin Smith

Online Poker's Measuring Stick

3 December 2002

How big is the online poker business?

Oddly enough Dennis Boyko isn't much of a poker player.

Nevertheless, his new service could become a valuable tool to players across the world looking for a high-stakes game or a big tournament online., Boyko's newest creation, gives players an idea of exactly where the action is by offering daily and hourly summary data on the growing number of multiplayer poker sites and the amount of players using them.

For diehard poker players, and even the casual player with an hour or two to kill, finding games quickly and easily could be the difference between a successful night of cards and one spent spinning wheels trying to find a full table.

Now, instead of bouncing from site to site only to find partially filled tables or games where the stakes are too high or too low, a player can take a quick glance at PokerPulse and get an idea of what's presently happening at 10 leading sites.

Boyko got the idea for his site after years of building networks and systems for the telecommunications industry. After he was laid off from his job more than a year ago, Boyko put many of the same analytical systems and formulas he used in the telecom industry and turned them to gaming applications.

The result is a site that not only shows players what's happening in various online poker rooms, but additionally, through the use of charts and graphs, provides a glimpse into trends and analysis for a rapidly growing industry segment.

Boyko said isn't affiliated with any of the sites it tracks. The only relationship he has with operators is on the advertising side; his site runs three banner ads per page.

"That just proves that my data is fair and hasn't been skewed to favor one site or one system," Boyko said. "Multiplayer poker is a very loose affiliation from one site to the next, where players can go online and see what all the leading sites are doing and how they compare to each other."

Poker Pulse posts reports showing an hour-by-hour summary of the action at each poker room it covers, as well as daily revenue estimates for both ring games and tournaments.

Boyko has stored this data since July 4, 2002, when Poker Pulse launched.

The hourly summary data reports and the daily revenue estimate reports are derived from the thousands of raw samples collected each month.

Typically, PokerPulse samples each active real-money game table several times an hour and records the name of the table, the game type, the stakes being played, the number of seated players and the average pot size.

In addition to processing these samples to update the PokerPulse Web pages, the site retains the information to support the hourly summary data and daily revenue estimates.

While the hourly reports show players how the action online is spread out among the leading sites, Boyko pointed out, it's also crucial data that enables operators to keep tabs on competitors.

"Operators need to be assured they are getting the biggest bang out of their buck," he said. "This data can show them roughly what their market share is and how they stack up against other brands they are competing against, either geographically or demographically."

The daily revenue estimates is the latest service offered, debuting Nov. 1. Designed for those looking to assess the effectiveness of campaigns being run by various poker rooms, it provides a quantitative measurement of activity in the online multi-player poker market sector on a day-to-day basis.

"With the daily revenue estimate report, users have an easy basis for quantifying the lasting value of a promotion and the impact the promotion had, if any, on other sites," Boyko said.

After analyzing the sector for nearly five months, Boyko has concluded that worries over the addition of new multiplayer poker sites spreading players too thin can be put to rest. Instead, the arrival of popular brands like William Hill and Victor Chandler has spurred overall growth.

"What William Hill and Victor Chandler did was grow the industry as a whole worldwide," Boyko said. "Instead of other sites that might have been around since day one seeing a drop off in business when those sites were launched, they were able to hold steady and some even saw their business pick up as more people were exposed to the concept."

Boyko sees the trend of more and more operators introducing their customers to multiplayer poker having a positive effect on the industry.

"Why would anyone want to play against the house computer," he explained, "when they can go and play against other players from around the world."

Online Poker's Measuring Stick is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith