Poker Ramblings of cmitch

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If you couldn’t tell from my post yesterday, I was really pissed when I found out that Pokershare was closing to North American residents. It was not so much about the money (All the more reason to keep a lot of your bankroll on Neteller – I only had $300 on Pokershare), but the squashing of the whole Pokershare idea.

I was probably in the top 10% of most active members on Ultimate Bet up until about 1 ½ years ago. UB was the only site that I played on back then and I played a lot. It was definitely my poker home and I felt very comfortable there. I knew a lot of the players from having played against them and having met a lot of them at the UB Aruba WPT event in 2003. The whole site had a home game feel and I told everyone that asked me about online poker to go to UB – which was quite a few people – without having any sort of affiliate program with them.

I started playing more on other sites when they started to have some network problems and then drifted farther away when they began forgetting about the non-Aruba players. I had a baby due around the same time as the Aruba WPT event in 2004. During the few months leading up to the Aruba event, UB almost completely forgot about players that were not playing Aruba sats. Several of their regular tourneys that I played every week were being replaced by Aruba sats. I went to other sites so that I could play tourneys that were not sats. Ever since then, my playing time at UB has been minimal – but I have still loved the feel of UB. I started playing lately on the Pokershare skin – it sounded like a great idea. Now this, fiasco. It looks like UB is a big part of what happened. I did have some $$ at UB and have withdrawn those funds and will wait to see what happens with Pokershare before I even consider playing at UB for a while.

An interesting theory was posted by Dan Druff over at and I have posted a copy of it below:

“Like many of you, I was shocked and appalled by yesterday's abrupt account closures on UB. I had over 33k there, and I was immediately worried that I'd never see that money again. Fortunately, they paid me immediately on Neteller, and I got to take a step back, clear my head, and analyze the situation from an objective standpoint.

After taking a look at all of the available "evidence", I believe I have pieced together an explanation that is probably very close to what actually went down. Feel free to jump in if you feel I've missed anything.

First off, it's important to realize that many of us (myself included, until recently) have been making a faulty assumption about the relationship between UB and Pokershare. We all assumed that Pokershare was a skin for UB. Not true. Pokershare and UB are both skins on the Excapsa poker network. The Excapsa network began with UB in 2001, but expanded to include several other smaller skins, the latest being Pokershare.

A list of these skins and a short description of them can be found at here:

Prior to the existence of Pokershare, UB was not threatened by the other skins. These skins were either play-money only (i.e. Cardplayer) or were marketing to a different clientele (i.e. Aviation Club, marketed to French players). While UB does serve players from all over the world, their primary business (and "market share") is North America -- more specifically, the U.S. and Canada.

Therefore, without any serious competition for this important market, UB was relatively happy and didn't mind other skins on the network. In fact, UB was probably happy about those European skins, because it increased the overall network player base, and kept more active games on the site.

Enter Pokershare.

Pokershare offers something nearly too good to be true: A 40% share of their profits! "Even when you lose, you win!", said their website. In addition, they allowed rakeback affiliates, meaning that players could get a healthy rakeback (in many cases over 30%) ON TOP of the 40% profit distribution.

It doesn't take a PhD in economics to realize what started to occur. The word about Pokershare spread like wildfire, and people were jumping ship from UB to sign up to be part of this brave new world of poker profit sharing. This is hardly what UB had bargained for!

To put it in street terms, UB was a pimp with near-exclusive rights to his 'hood, and some balding English guy shows up and offers the same girls for a lesser price. The turf war was on!

UB complained to Excapsa. "We built this network," they insisted. "We've been here from the start. Without us, there would be no Pokershare, or any of these other skins, for that matter." UB insisted that, after being Excapsa's meal ticket for 4 years, they deserved better than to be bitten in the ass by a greedy Englishman on their own network.

Excapsa never had to mediate like this before. Prior to this feud, all of the skins had existed in peace. To appease UB, Excapsa gave Pokershare a deadline of October 31st to stop accepting new rakeback customers. While UB felt this wasn't enough, Excapsa assured them that this deadline would prevent most people from jumping ship, as rakeback was far more valuable than this "profit sharing".

UB still wasn't happy. "We'll lose most of our serious players by October 31st. This isn't fair. Any existing UB customer simply shouldn't be eligible for Pokershare!"

And that was the next compromise. Excapsa released a new version of the software, which didn't allow you to install Pokershare if any previous Excapsa skin existed on that computer -- even if said skin was uninstalled. Still, UB was unhappy, and felt that most of the damage had already been done.

Back at Pokershare headquarters, Max Wright scratched his balding head and wondered how much longer Excapsa would tolerate his company's antics. He already had to make excuses as to why people couldn't install the Pokershare software -- even if they already had a Pokershare account and simply wanted it on a second computer. "We're working on the issue," he would write them. Wright tried to appeal to the powers-that-be at Excapsa, arguing that it's his right to grab whatever share of the market he can get. Excapsa told him that they're still deciding how to come to terms with all of this.

Finally, UB pressed hard enough, and Excapsa backed down. "We want our market share back," said UB. "We have always marketed to North America, and that should be our territory. Pokershare is based in Europe. Let them have their European customers, but we want our Americans and Canadians back."

And so Excapsa finally realized that UB did indeed deserve their original market back. Indeed, Pokershare was based out of England, and none of the other network skins dared market outside of where they were based. Why should Pokershare be allowed to raid the crown jewel skin of the network?

On November 1st, 2005, Excapsa quietly closed all accounts on the network, and informed each member via e-mail. They staffed their office 24/7 to handle questions and cashout requests, and quickly shipped out all refunds. The biggest accounts were handled first (thus to prevent mass panic), followed by the smaller ones. Everyone on the network was to be paid -- after all, Excapsa also manages the cashier -- thus maintaining the integrity of the network that had existed reputably for more than 4 years.

This action was taken immediately, and without any prior discussion with Pokershare owner Max Wright. Once Wright found out about this, he was understandbly livid, but the damage had already been done. Observe his reaction to finding out what had happened:

So, in summary, here is the situation:
1) Your Pokershare account was closed by the parent network, not Pokershare, and not UB.

2) Your money is safe, and if you haven't received it yet, you'll be getting it shortly. The purpose here was not to cheat the players, it was to restore UB's market share.

3) Max Wright is currently lobbying Excapsa to get its players back, but it's doubtful he'll be successful, since UB has far more pull. Furthermore, it's unlikely anyone will trust Pokershare again, even though this shutdown wasn't directly their fault.

4) You will probably not be getting your "share" money. It's almost a certainty that they will claim that this abrupt shutdown has ruined them financially, and therefore there are no profits to distribute. 40% of 0 is still 0.

5) The rakeback situation is questionable. It will be up to Pokershare to distribute the rakeback to its affiliates. It's possible that they will either go under or claim financial hardship, meaning that your rakeback may never arrive. However, you should keep the pressure on your affiliate to make sure he's telling you the truth, and isn't using this situation to pocket the rakeback and blame Pokershare.

I believe that the above tells the whole story, perhaps with a few details missing and/or slightly incorrect.

I shall now twirl my seat cover for one last time this evening, and bid you all goodnight.

-Dan Druff””

3 responses to "Pokershare Theory and UB connection"

  1. Very interesting stuff... I still think we are going to see more consolidation...
    Growth rates alone are going to make these companies happy anymore.

    And, of course, the ever lingering cloud over US is going to rear it's ugly head sooner or later.


  2. unbelievable


  3. What surprises me most is that UB has not developed their own software. With all of the issues they've had in the past (server drop off's, etc.) it would seem to make more sense to run your own show.