Rise and Fall of the Cardrunners Empire
Yesterday, May 4th, long-running video training site Cardrunners announced that it was ending its subscription service and production of paid video content as of the end of the month. The announcement, made within a blog post at the CR site by co-owners Taylor Caby, Andrew Wiggins, Alex Huang, also states that refunds will be issued to all Cardrunners members whose subscriptions run past June 1st.
Cardrunners won’t be dead and buried, entirely, at least not in the short term. Wiggins, Huang and Caby promise that the site and its content will live on for some time yet, with at least some of the content being uploaded to YouTube for free viewing by all. Read between the lines, however, and it seems like the site’s owners would really like to sell all their existing content to another video-training site, if there are any takers.
Before moving on to the why and what of it all, here’s the Cardrunners notice, in its entirety:
Starting June 1st, CardRunners will stop the production of paid video content and move a portion of our library to YouTube. The website in its current form will remain online for at least a few months. Over the coming months we will periodically release new training content on our YouTube channel.
We will be providing pro-rated refunds to members with long-term subscriptions and all ongoing monthly subscriptions will be canceled. If you have any questions about your subscription please contact [email protected]
Within the next few weeks, we will also begin releasing free coaching videos on HoldemManager.com. We will release several of these videos each week and they will be focused on helping Hold’em Manager users better use statistics and our software to improve their results.
We would like to thank all of those who have been a part of the CardRunners community over the years.
-Taylor Caby, Andrew Wiggins, Alex Huang
*If you have a pre-paid video subscription that is over six months old we are not able to automatically process refunds. We have sent an email to all of these customers with further instructions for receiving your refund. If you did not receive one please contact CardRunners support.
Okay, fine, and good enough. Assuming that Cardrunners does fold its own virtual tent, not worrying much about the YouTube and HoldemManager possibilities, then it marks the end of what was, for a short while, perhaps the preeminent video-training site on the market.
Cardrunners was founded way back in 2005 by Caby, and it grew quickly, emerging at the front of the video-training wave. Today, such video training tools seem old hat in the era of Twitch and other truly “live” online formats, even if Cardrunners and its competitors were cutting edge back in the day.
One of the larger truths about Cardrunners’ demise is that’s its better seen as part of a larger market correction. For several years, virtually all of the ’10s to date, there have been too many of these video-training offerings, many of them devouring each other as they’ve chased a maturing and shrinking video clientele. Videos are a bit passé, and the target audience for these is both highly defined and steadily shrinking.
Viewed a different way, paid video-training sites are even more susceptible to the changes in the online-poker industry. Think about the growing chasm between online grinders and newer fish. To oversimplify it a bit, most casual players don’t want to invest in video subscriptions, and most veteran grinders have already climbed the learning curve to the point that such training videos have lessened value. Most of those grinders would rather be paid to teach then spend on learning, if only endless teaching opportunities existed.
To take it sideways for a moment, that’s part of why the launch of Phil Ivey’s Ivey League was so comical, it’s demise so predictable. Ivey league trailed the video market by nearly a decade, and though it had plenty of prominent names (and high prices to match), the market for its wares simply wasn’t there. Whoever funded Ivey League must have been sold a nice cock-and-bull story, but we’ll never know for sure.
If Ivey League did anything, it was to super-saturate an already overcrowded, aging, failing market. That couldn’t hae been good for Cardrunners or any of the existing video-training sites, though in CR’s case, the site’s been a mite dusty for at least two years. Most of CR’s training instructors have long since moved on to other gigs, and as for that announcement of paid services being terminated, it came within only the second new blog post to be published since… 2015.
The life really went out of Cardrunners a couple of years back. This recent stuff is just window dressing, or, more exactly, just the shades being taken down and hauled off for good.