Ongame Unveils New Fast-Fold “Strobe Poker”
Following a lead first begun over three years ago with the introduction of “Rush Poker” on Full Tilt Poker, the Ongame network yesterday brought forward across its 20-plus skins yet another version of “fast-fold” poker, dubbed “Strobe Poker.”
Strobe Poker is currently available only at lower stakes ($0.05/$0.10 and $0.15/$0.30), five-handed, no-limit hold’em cash tables, with plans to consider higher stakes games depending on player demand and the ability to sustain the games.
Like Rush Poker and other sites’ versions of the fast-fold game, Strobe Poker players join player pools in which they switch tables and opponents following each hand. Players need not wait for the action to reach them before being able to fold their hand and move on. Also as in the other fast-fold games, an algorithm is employed to ensure players post blinds in an equally distributed manner.
The online-only variant of poker was first unveiled by Full Tilt Poker in January 2010. More than two years later — after Full Tilt Poker’s post-Black Friday shutdown in mid-2011 — PokerStars brought forward its version of fast-fold poker in March 2012, called “Zoom Poker.”
A similar variant called “Blaze” surfaced on the Microgaming network a couple of months later, “Speed Poker” appeared on the iPoker network in June 2012, and PartyGaming debuted its “FastForward Poker” in August 2012.
Many industry observers now regard the fast-fold variant to be an important offering that increases the attractiveness of online poker sites. While Ongame might be behind the curve somewhat with its belated introduction of fast-fold poker, the network has historically been at the forefront of many developments, including having been part of online poker’s earliest days and being ahead of the pack when it comes to offering Mac and mobile options.
Ongame’s history reaches way back to 1999 and the launch of PokerRoom.com, the site that began with Ongame, then returned to the network in 2012 for a brief, final run before finally closing its doors in late February.
Years of pre-UIGEA booming growth saw Ongame increase to a peak of more than 6 million users across the network in 2005. Ongame was sold late that year to BETandWIN.com Interactive Entertainment — now bwin.com — for a whopping €474 million ($570 million), at the time a price tag more than four times the previous largest internet gambling takeover.
The network’s traffic shrunk dramatically after pulling out of the U.S. once the UIGEA was passed in 2006. Then following bwin.com’s merger with PartyGaming in 2011, efforts were begun to find a buyer for Ongame which had become considered unneeded surplus for the new group.
In early 2012 it appeared Shuffle Master was poised to purchase Ongame from bwin.Party, having gotten as far as entering into an agreement to do so by the spring. However by June the deal with Shuffle Master had fallen through. The Amaya Gaming Group then stepped in to purchase Ongame in October for €15 million.
Since then poker players on bwin.com moved from Ongame over to the PartyGaming platform in December, causing the loss of around a third of Ongame’s overall player pool (although the bwin.com players already had been segregated). Then in January, Betfair Poker began the process migrating away from Ongame to the iPoker network, with players currently able to play on either network. That move will be completed by July.
However, despite these reductions in the number of players currently playing on Ongame sites, the future of Ongame remains somewhat bright thanks to legislative developments regarding online poker in the United States, specifically in Nevada.
New agreements between Amaya, Shuffle Master, and Bally Technologies mean Ongame will be the software of choice for that group when it finally goes live. Meanwhile, the already-launched free money site acePLAY Poker, owned by American Casino & Entertainment Properties, is using the Ongame software as well.
Here’s a quick look at the new Ongame fast-fold “Strobe Poker,” with screen shots taken from the RedKings Poker client: