Poker Returning to Tain Network

Poker software developer GGNetwork announced Monday that it has entered into an agreement with the Tain Network in which it will supply its poker software to all of Tain’s licensees. I’m the first to admit that I know virtually nothing about the GGNetwork, but based on the names of its member poker rooms and screenshots of its software, it appears to cater primarily to the Asian market, even though its offices are in Dublin, London, and the British Virgin Islands.

In a press release, GGNetwork spokesperson Hilly Ehrlich said, “This is a very exciting time for us and it is a big honour to be joining forces with such an experienced, outstanding, branded platform as Tain. We look forward to re-activating and hosting all the poker followers on Tain Network with a style and flavour of poker that everyone will enjoy.”

This is the GGNetwork’s first European partnership, again fueling my great suspicion that the network has focused on Asia until now.

Tain Network CEO Mathias Larsson said:

We are proud to be the first major European partner for GGNetwork. Poker used to represent a significant sector for Tain operators before its decline.

However, we do not believe that the downturn was due to people falling out of love with poker; it was because the poker networks simply were not good enough and allowed certain brands to take over the market.

Now, though, Tain will once again be able to offer world-class poker to its operators and I am sure it will be a massive success.

What was that about poker networks not being good enough and allowing certain brands to take over the market? Did Larsson throw some shade at somebody? It certainly seems like it and while I don’t know exactly what he is talking about there, I have a guess.

While I don’t know much about GGNetwork, I do know a little something about the Tain Network. Tain’s poker network was never overly significant, but during the pre-UIGEA poker boom it had solid, simple software and enough players to make a go of it.

The headliner on Tain was probably Poker Share, which launched in April 2005 with the gimmick of offering its players a piece of the company based on their play. Like rakeback, but less tangible. It was also the site on which I won my first multi-table tournament – I probably still have the screenshot somewhere.

Poker Share started as an UltimateBet skin on the Excapsa Network. I know, you forgot UltimateBet was actually part of a network before its scandal-ridden turn partnering with Absolute Poker. UltimateBet (which was essentially one and the same as Excapsa) – SHOCKINGLY – wasn’t known for engaging in particularly ethical business practices. One policy that was put into place was that a player who had an account at UltimateBet could not open an account at another Excapsa site and use a funding method that he or she had already used at UltimateBet. The only possible explanation for this punitive policy was to try to prevent players from migrating from UltimateBet to another skin on the network. Now, networks certainly had problems with members poaching from other members, but this way of preventing that was awfully mean-spirited and anti-competitive.

Poker Share’s hook of equity drew players from UltimateBet despite the funding limitations, so UltimateBet and Excapsa took things a step further. They told Poker Share in the fall of 2005 that it could not register any players who already had accounts on UltimateBet. At first Poker Share told the network to screw off, but eventually capitulated, likely realizing that if it wanted to stay on the network, it needed to toe the line.

tain-logoIt didn’t stop there, though. Excapsa then told Poker Share that it had to stop accepting players from the entirety of North America. Remember, this was about a year before the UIGEA and poker rooms and networks were operating freely in the U.S. In November 2005, Poker Share shut down on Excapsa. Of course, this still wasn’t good enough for UltimateBet/Excapsa, which wouldn’t let Poker Share return player funds electronically, only by check. Poker Share sued Excapsa and UltimateBet for $100 million, eventually settling in early 2006.

In March 2006, Poker Share joined the Tain Network, and while I enjoyed my time there (even though those shares in the company never came to be), the marriage was short lived, since Tain and many other networks stopped accepting U.S. players after the UIGEA passed in 2006. Poker Share then moved to the Microgaming Network, but folded soon thereafter.

Long story short, I am guessing that Tain’s CEO was throwing a barb at Excapsa and UltimateBet in that quote, defending one of his network’s old members. Then again, the reference is so old and so obscure and has to do with a poker room that obviously wasn’t a part of Tain when it had problems with Excapsa, so I could be totally wrong on this one. I would like to imagine, though, that I am correct and that I am the only one who noticed this tidbit.

At any rate, the Tain Network is finally going to have poker again after about a decade and that is not a bad thing.


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