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Adjarabet Courts the Casual Player to Rise in Rankings

So I’m taking a look at PokerScout’s cash game traffic rankings and we have PokerStars in its usual spot atop the heap with 18,500 cash game players on average over the last seven days. Ok, looks good. Then there’s 888poker with 2,300…the iPoker Network with 2,000…fine. Adjarabet is in fourth with 1,900 players, then Full Tilt Poker with 1,600, partypoker with 1,400….

Stop. Back up…Adjarabet? What the hell is an Adjarabet? No, seriously. What is it and how in the world is it the fourth largest poker room on the internet? What in the wide world of sports is going on?

As it turns out, Adjarabet is an online gaming site based in Georgia. As a resident of the Atlanta area, this initially got me very excited…until I realized that was Georgia the country, not Georgia the state in the southeastern U.S. It started way back in the 1990’s as a sportsbook and did not get involved in poker until 2011. While not well-known outside of Georgia, it apparently is a strong local and regional brand. For those who were wonder, the name comes from Adjara, which is an autonomous republic of Georgia, located in the southwestern corner of the country on the Black Sea. rising-graph

Adjarabet’s low profile for the last few years has made people think it only accepts Georgian customers, but in fact, the site accepts players from around the world, except for those from the United States. It simply kept its marketing local for a long time. It has been steadily growing and has established itself as a top ten to fifteen player in the industry, but its rise to fourth is, frankly, stunning. It is easy to explain how it got there, though: promotions.

Adjarabet has been running promotions the last couple months aimed at the recreational player. They have been so well designed and so generous in their prizes that people could not help but to flock to the site. In addition, its main rival in the region, Europe-Bet, has been fighting the promotional battle, which may be increasing the awareness of both sites.

The latest promo is brilliant in its simplicity. Called “PokerMasters,” it is, at its most basic, your typical multi-week leaderboard promo. Split into five one-week segments, PokerMasters is awarding 550,000 Georgian Lari (at the time of writing, about $314,307) during the course of the entire promotion, 110,000 GEL ($62,861) per week. The top 100 points earners per week win a share of the money, with 15,000 GEL ($8,572) going to first place.

It is the way points are earned that, in my opinion, makes this promotion. Players accumulate points just for playing in real money games and accomplishing certain tasks. The harder the task, the more points it is worth. One great thing about the promotion, though, and probably a big reason why people are flocking to Adjarabet, is that low stakes players have just as much of a chance to win as high stakes players do. There is no added benefit for playing at higher stakes. None. And while any promotion like this naturally benefits more dedicated, high volume players, it is entirely possible for someone who plays moderately to make the top 100.

The low point-value tasks are where the more serious grinders will have the advantage. They require players to win a raked hand from the small blind, play in a multi-table tournament, or get dealt pocket Kings or Aces in cash game. None are worth more than 60 points, but all are things that clearly give an edge to someone who multi-tables for several hours a day. The other tasks that can be accomplished an unlimited number of times (some tasks only count once daily or once per week) and award more points are going to happen much less frequently, as might be obvious. These involve things such as being dealt pocket pairs in two, three, or four hands in a row, or winning with a flush on consecutive hands. Sure, high volume grinders have a better chance here, as well, but these are still mostly a crapshoot, to steal a term from a different game.

Again, what impresses me here is that there is no barrier to entry for a recreational player. Even if someone doesn’t think they’ll have a chance to win, it also doesn’t hurt to try. All things being equal, might as well play on Adjarabet.

But Adjarabet takes it a step further. Beyond just attracting a ton more players, the promotion is setup to encourage multi-tabling and loose play. The multi-tabling part is obvious: some of the tasks literally require multi-tabling and the rest naturally are easier to pull off when playing more hands. As for the loose, fishy play, there are two tasks, in particular, that recreational players will just eat up. For 400 points, players need to LOSE with pocket Aces at showdown. I can just imagine all the novices who think “Boy, I need to slow play this,” or “I know I’ve got to be losing, but I don’t want to miss out on 400 points. That’s the equivalent of being dealt Kings eight times! I’m going all the way to the river on this one.”

And for 500 points, a player needs to win or split a hand with 2-7. Oh boy [rubs hands together like Montgomery Burns].

It all adds up to a promotion that was tailor made for the recreational player, so it is no surprise that Adjarabet’s numbers are soaring. It also just came off of another successful promotion, so there are likely a lot of players who have stayed on board for this one. It remains to be seen what will happen to Adjarabet’s traffic once it stops with these blockbuster promotions. It will almost certainly recede, but I am sure the hope is that some decent percentage of players will decide that they like the site and will continue to play there.

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