Yahoo’s online poker software is being marketed with a vengeance, leading some to speculate that the company might have some interest in offering real money poker games in the future. Right now, only play money games are available through Yahoo, though the company does offer real money prizes in its fantasy sports contests.
The version of Yahoo online poker currently offered is the latest of many different play money Texas Hold’em games that have been seen at Yahoo since the late 1990s, so poker is nothing new for the company. There’s also no immediate or obvious sign that Yahoo plans to enter the real money gambling sector this time around.
But at least one analyst sees the marketing campaign for the latest version of its play money poker game as a sign that Yahoo wants to be ready in the case enough US states legalize online poker that it becomes something it could profit from.
Positioned for Real Money Poker
“By launching this portal now, Yahoo becomes well positioned to enter the pay-to-win online poker market should states ultimately deem Texas Hold’em to be a legal game of skill,” Marc Edelman, Associate Professor of Law at CUNY’s Baruch College, wrote for Forbes. “Yahoo also could apply for licenses to operate their online casino with cash prizes in the limited number of states that have already legalized online casino gaming, such as Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.”
The Yahoo poker game is already monetized for the company, though in the fashion of play money social media games, rather than as a real money gambling effort. Players can spend money to purchase millions in play money chips that they can bring to the tables. They can also buy other features, like a hand strength calculator or profiles on opponent tendencies.
That’s a far cry from real money poker, of course, and it is worth reiterating that Yahoo has made no statements suggesting that it has any interest in entering the world of gambling. But if Edelman’s speculation is correct, Yahoo would certainly be the kind of major media company that could shake up the online poker marketplace.
Major Competitor for Amaya
“Amaya needs a real competitor to keep them in line,” wrote a poster named Stoop Kid in a thread about Yahoo’s online poker launch on TwoPlusTwo.com. “I don’t care if its Zynga, Yahoo or Google. You can be sure these internet monsters have the capital/reach to successfully market a new poker site. Obviously not going to happen overnight but it would be nice to see a BIG competitor enter the market.”
The discussion featured plenty of discussion over the quality of Yahoo’s software (one poster thought it was excellent even in beta form, while others were far less impressed), and some skepticism over the claims that this might be a first step towards real money play.
“Am I missing something?” asked a poster named khanrava. “What indicates that they may consider real money in the future? Yahoo has had free online games for a long time.”
Even Edelman conceded that Yahoo may have more modest plans for making money off of its poker product.
“A virtual Texas Hold’em table may serve as just another ideal venue for Yahoo to sell web ads,” he wrote.