Phil Ivey, iTEAM Network Announce New DFS Offering
Poker pro Phil Ivey and Las Vegas-based iTEAM Network have announced that they are joining forces in launching a new daily fantasy sports product, PhilIveyDFS, which will debut next month. The site will launch as a DFS-based skin on the iTEAM Network platform, which uses a network of such skins in a manner very similar to, and likely derived from, the business model behind many of the world’s largest online-poker networks.
“Over the past few years I’ve been looking for more ways to share with fans my perspective on Daily Fantasy Sports,” said Ivey. “I was honored to have multiple options but iTEAM Network’s focus on compliance and the core technology, along with the leadership of Gabe Hunterton, ultimately made it a pretty easy decision.”
Added Hunterton, iTEAM Network’s CEO, “We are always looking for quality brands and partners in the world of fantasy sports. There is no elite-level individual that fans want to follow and learn from more than Phil Ivey. Phil’s team engaged in extended due diligence, which we welcomed in light of our commitment to conservative regulatory practices and great user experiences. There is a large crossover between poker players and DFS players. Adding the Phil Ivey brand will substantially increase network-wide player liquidity and prize pools. We have already started an aggressive marketing and execution plan in which PhilIveyDFS users will be able to compete immediately for more than $20,000 in weekly pro basketball contests and interact directly with Phil.”
Whether the timing is right for the launching of such a venture remains unknown, given the legal peril currently facing DFS and major sites DraftKings and FanDuel in several US states. However, online records show that the iTEAM Network was itself launched in September of 2015, just weeks before the “insider knowledge” furor and accusations targeting the DFS industry led to numerous states looking closely into the mostly unregulated DFS space. It also appears that the planning for the iTEAM Network, in some form, dates all the way back to 2012; the company was officially founded in 2013.
The five original iTEAM Network DFS sites are Wagerocity, SkillDraftDFS, SportsMemoDFS, BigBlackDFS & Amber Gaming (under the brand name HogWildPokerDFS). Wagerocity pre-date iTEAM’s launch, formerly existing as a standalone DFS offering, and it now also serves as the de facto flagship site of the operation. At least three other DFS sites, AtlantaDraft.com, GameDayDrafts and URCompedSports, also have joined the iTEAM family.
The new PhilIveyDFS site also looks to have been planned for an earlier launch, but was held back for unknown reasons. The PhilIveyDFS.com domain appears to be directly related to the iTEAM Network domain family, and like several of the network’s other skins, was reserved last September. That domain is only a placeholder site as of today, though it appears primed to be loaded with plenty of iTEAM’s DFS content when the site goes live next month.
Of course, Ivey, one of the world’s most famous poker players and gamblers, remains immersed in plenty of other very public stories himself. Ivey remains immersed in two lawsuits, against New Jersey’s Borgata and London’s Crockfords casinos, regarding the “edge sorting” card-identifying tactics he and a partner used to obtain a significant mathematical edge in mini-baccarat games at the casinos. The one-time Team Full Tilt Pro and minority site owner has been involved in several other newsworthy stories in recent years, including his helping to post bail for accused Asian bookmaker in the controversial Paul Phua case.
A look at iTEAM’s corporate offerings shows that several veterans of the poker world figure heavily in the company’s success. Poker’s most well-known agent, Brian Balsbaugh of Poker Royalty, sits on iTEAM’s board of directors, and David Williams, runner-up to Greg Raymer in the 2004 WSOP main event, is listed as a “Data Analysis” executive. Former Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli and his GVIII, LLC counseling firm also serve in an independent advisory capacity to iTEAM, which bills itself as a “DFS 2.0” industry, seeking to be fully regulation-compliant in all jurisdictions where the company offers its services.