Grey Snow Poker

GreySnowPoker Goes Live; ‘FairPlay’ Equates to Table Fee

It’s time to check back in on the long-running saga of PokerTribe.com and its successor, GreySnowPoker, with a legitimate dab of real news: The site, owned and by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma but licensed and apparently operated out of the Isle of Man, has finally gone live, with the claim of being “rake free”.

Except it really isn’t rake-free, in the way it’s generally thought of by the poker-playing public. GreySnowPoker — or Grey Snow Poker, if you prefer — isn’t technically charging “rake”, though it is indeed charging a fee to play in its newly launched cash games. The semantic twist here is that Grey Snow is collecting a flat 3% fee of the amount any player brings to an online table, instead of charging rake on a hand-by-hand basis, and this is what the site calls its “FairPlay” approach.

The people behind GreySnowPoker describe this FairPlay approach as the cure-all for everything that currently ails online poker: The site does more than a bit of scare-mongering to sell potential players on trying the concept:

The use of automated poker software and Artificial Intelligence gives way to unethical activity and behavior at the tables. For example:

The use of seating scripts that allow players to pick and choose inexperienced players while avoiding experienced players. This type of tactic is commonly referred to as “bum hunting” and does not take place in a live poker room environment. Online poker has allowed this type of behavior to carry on for far too long.

Automated software has the ability to record how players are playing, often using this data against recreational players.

Some of that is arguably correct, while other bits are nonsense. Bum hunting is almost as old as poker itself, for example, and the stuff about automated software and AI is muddled and mixed. Is that about HUDs? Bots? Other types of software? It’s hard to say, exactly. And from there, without more detail or explanation, it’s on to the site’s sales pitch of why a flat-rate 3% “FairPlay” approach is better:

The FairPlay Model

Aside from preventing players from “bum hunting”, “rat-holing”, and “hitting and running”, we believe the FairPlay model benefits the poker community as a whole.

It creates crystal-clear transparency on how much you have been charged from the tables – and also what is returned to you in the form of our loyalty program

It supports an environment where players are incentivized for playing longer sessions at the table and deters negative behavior

Since we do not take ANY RAKE AT ALL during a poker session there is MORE MONEY at the poker table. Imagine playing on a table with 6 other players, and, after playing for an hour, how much of your potential winnings has already been taken off the table from rake.

The dollar value of the total buy-ins will never change over time. For example, if 6 players sit down with $100 each, even after 6 hours (without bringing additional cash to the table), the total dollar value at the table is still $600. No cash has been lost to the house. By keeping the pots rake-free, it will create more creative and interesting pots for players in the long run. What were once poker decisions to fold in a rake environment could now be calling or raising situations in a FairPlay environment. This should hopefully lead to more action, more fun, and a longer user experience!

We believe that players will receive more playing time and a better user experience playing at FairPlay tables than using the traditional rake model. It’s possible when playing short-handed on a poker table that, after a few hours of playing, the rake has taken out more money than players have won. This will never happen at our poker tables.

If you choose to play online poker it should not be based on who you are playing against and the level of your opponents – we are here to have fun and create a great playing experience that helps the players learn in the long run. You are never raked based on how many hands you play on the table – instead you are raked when you finish your poker playing experience. Simple – and logical!

If you lose your buy-in during a session you never pay the service fee.

No service fee if you go busto, but otherwise you pay the 3% (actually 2% after the equivalent of rakeback is credited). That’s a format that will indeed induce plenty of short stacks to jam in at some point, since it’s in effect a rebate on a final losing pot. However, not all the other stuff is as cut and dried as the above sales pitch makes it appear. Also note that true rake-free sites have been tried before, such as the old WSEX site over a decade ago, and most often they’ve actually degenerated into extreme nitfests. That’s a risk here once the newness wears off.

This FairPlay system also demands that for the best value, players stay seated at the table for long stretches, and that might be a bad option for the same types of recreational players the site hopes to attract. Such a player might commit to that 3% upfront fee and fine himself at a table full of fierce pros, meaning that immediately vacating the seat and paying the $3 anyway might have been the best EV option, not that the rec player would calculate it in those terms.

It’s an interesting idea, yet it has potential gaps and pitfalls. Issues surrounding the site itself and how it came to be have yet to be fully resolved, such as how Grey Snow Poker can claim to be operated both from Oklahoma and from the Isle of Man at the same time. Hint: It’s almost certainly being run from servers located in IOM, but yet the site’s TOC now claims this:

This Terms of Use Agreement (“Agreement”) provides a License (“License”) to “users” to access, navigate, use, and participate in our online gambling services (“Services”) on the GreySnowPoker.com website from any device capable of accessing the internet. GreySnowPoker.com is operated by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma with the servers located on their sovereign land and regulated by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma Gaming Commission.  GreySnowPoker.com is licensed and regulated by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission, which has been regulating gaming activities since 1962. GreySnowPoker.com online gambling debts are enforceable under Isle of Man law. We operate strictly within these regulations….

So, IOM regulators are now licensing sites not actually located there, but on tribal land in the US state of Oklahoma? Yeah, that’s not really believable. If that’s how the IOM operates these days, it’s fallen on harsh times. The parent company of Grey Snow Poker, Ioway Internet Gaming Enterprise Limited, is indeed incorporated in the Isle of Man. However, that’s a domicile of legal convenience, with the address used likely that of a business lawyer’s postal box. It all adds up to a shuck, and when the Iowas were pressed on the matter a while back by a mainstream news reporter, they declined to answer. A responsible operator doesn’t hide such things in this matter.

Shady as that part of the start-up remains, it’s still better than the alternative, that being the PokerTribe.com deal with Fred Khalilian and Isaias Almora’s Universal Entertainment Group. We’re not going to rehash that again (just check our archives, if you must), but good riddance to that stuff.

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