Who is OurgamePoker? Are they a legitimate poker site? Is what they offer too good to be true? Here are some facts coupled with our initial gut reactions to what we are seeing and uncovering in our research and talks with management at OurgamePoker.
You may have noticed over the last week a big splash on the international poker scene with the advent of a brand new website OurgamePoker. The initial marketing and branding push has already begun to rear its ugly head as you can see with the banner ads purchased on 2 + 2, and the not-so subtle strategy utilized by the 2 + 2 forum moderators of inserting ourgame.poker links into user posts, without said users consent as evidenced here. [Moderators have since removed the links due to complaints].
The first question you have to ask yourself is exactly who is OurgamePoker? You may have heard of "Ourgame International" in recent months, and it would be normal for you to assume this is the same company, or at least a subsidiary division of the company, which purchased the World Poker Tour in June of 2015. You would be mistaken. We thought so too, until we asked them straight up. They confessed when directly confronted with the question, but earlier in our conversations with the reps we had mentioned the WPT purchase and they did not volunteer that this was not them.
Is it coincidence? Would it be coincidental if we were to open a new burger joint named McDernald's? What if we began marketing a new soft drink named Koke-Kola? Coincidence? Not hardly. Now, in fairness, it is less of an issue in other parts of the world to blatantly try to cash in on the name of a competitor. In fact we are sure that many of our readers have seen pretty egregious copyright violations coming from Chinese companies imitating products of all types that originated in other markets. However, with a site who aims to service American players, this is pretty big faux pas with regard to inspiring confidence in your potential player base.
Lastly, since we are on the subject of unlikely coincidences, did we mention that Ourgame International Holdings Ltd., the company who actually purchased The World Poker Tour, is based in China? OurgamePoker appears to be Chinese as well, despite claiming to be a London based company. Odd stuff.
So we're left with only a couple of conclusions with regard to the name. It is a gross oversight and lack of market research. It is a willful marketing technique which borders on deception and doesn't inspire confidence. Take your pick, but either way you slice it, the choice of names is negative.
They claim to be based out of London. We find this hard to believe for a few simple reasons. First off, the website itself is chock full Asian imagery, from the logo in the top left of the page, to the fact that at least 11 of the 12 splash pictures shown on the front page illustrated in a style highly reminiscent of manga comics and cartoons, as well the naming of their big weekly tournament the "Sunday Dragon". Given the great effort apparently taken to draw in American players, you would think the aesthetics would be a bit more westernized, unless they are simply targeting the youngest demographic possible.
Next up, take a look at the language on the site. Any native English speaker will note that the site was written by someone "fluent" in English, but who was far from a native speaker. Here are a couple examples of the poor English used on site:
Why will Ourgame Poker necessarily become your choice?
Ourgame Poker is a major advance in the world of poker. Innovative software, most attractive special offers and the highest extent of service customizing ensure that you’ll get an ultimate pleasure of playing at our site.
Immediately after making a deposit with an indication of the Bonus code, you will see six face-down cards from which you may choose one. At the chosen card you will see the prize you have won which will be immediately credited to your account.
The list of ugly English goes on and on. And speaking of English, you'd think a London based company would use the English flag for language selection and not an American flag? If you look at the top right hand corner of the page, their drop down list of languages serviced shows the Chinese flag first, and then lists an American flag for the English language, something we highly doubt you would see from a British company.
Next up, let's consider the legal ramifications of what they are doing. If in fact this is a London based company, they are subject to UK laws. The UK is a pretty strict regulated gaming market and having your business within those borders would pretty much preclude a company from operating in "gray markets." Yet it appears that the entire business model of OurgamePoker is gray market. Lets look at that language drop down again. Chinese, English, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. If you keep up with the International ROW poker markets at all you'd know that these countries fall into the categories of protected, ISP blocked, regulated, intra-country only, etc. These are all gray market, and in some cases black market countries to offer services to. Is setting up a corporate entity that operates in such murky jurisdictions something you really want to do from Central London? Will your player funds be safe if your payment processing is running through the UK? This is a major concern of ours.
This company appears, in our opinion, to be a Chinese based company pretending to do business elsewhere. Whether that is for nefarious reasons or not, we don't know at this time. Also of note, PokerScout.com doesn't list them at all (EDITORS NOTE: Are you guys planning on adding them?)
Of course, when considering a new online poker venue, one of the areas most savvy players investigate is payment processing. This was something we chose to investigate, on behalf of our players before ever entering into an agreement with the site. Given our vested interest in catering to the American player, this is important. Why? Because processing payments for American players can be the most difficult part of the whole situation. Accepting players and opening accounts is the easy part. Any site can do that. Hell, accepting deposits is not all that difficult either, especially for a company with supposed Chinese connections. This is evidenced by the multitude of offshore poker sites serviced by Chinese payment processors. Paying out to those players is the hairy part. Distributing large sums of money to American players may be difficult. A brand new poker site looking to start hedging the American market-share would surely use a processor who is friendly to American customers. You want to make it easy for them, right? Not so much. Skrill, Astropay and Neteller are your only options in the states if you do not want to use a credit card or bitcoins, and of course, none of those processors service American players.
One of the biggest red flags here? They didn't even know Skrill wasn't an option for US players when we spoke to them. Another red flag? When we mentioned it, they told us that Neteller was coming on line soon. Why is that a problem you ask? Well, Neteller hasn't serviced the US market since 2007 when they paid the US government a high 8 figure fine for processing US gambling transactions in violation of UIGEA. Again, in fairness to OP, they did ask us what methods we'd like to see instituted for American players. Our gripe with this is that it should have been figured out before opening the doors to them. As one gambling industry veteran told us at a conference, "We aren't in the gambling business anymore, we are in the can-you-process business?," and we totally agree with that sentiment!
As of this writing, the site is accepting payments from US players via credit card and bitcoin. Bitcoin also appears to be a withdrawal option.
To begin with, the rake. It's very low. $2 cap on mid and high stakes games? That is, compared to some leading sites, more than 50% off. Compared to other sites in the Asian poker market, that is 90%+ off retail (many Asian sites have uncapped rake).
Next up, their rewards program is a "VIP-system" offering rakeback rewards of up to 40%. That in and of itself isn't an issue, as it is within industry norms. However, lets keep looking. Their referral program is part of the rewards and is available to all players. The referral program is pretty damned generous and multi-tiered. Again, in fairness, that is more common in Asian markets and cultures, but it certainly will stand out to savvy American clients as iffy.
Thirdly, let's look at those bonus offers shall we? Instant deposit bonuses for Skrill deposits of up to $5,000!? If you deposit $100,000 USD into this brand new knock off named poker site. On the lower end of the scale, small $20 deposits get a 25% instant match bonus of $5. The former isn't likely to ever happen and the later will render 99% of the customers that take advantage of it unprofitable for the card room, especially with that low rake scale (we know our poker room metrics, trust us on this one). There are also 200% deposit bonuses up to $2,000 to be had. So no matter how you deposit, you're getting a very generous bonus.
That's not all though, there are rake races sponsored by the site. $20,000 per month in fact. Which is pretty huge for a poker site that is less than a year old, and in fact only in Q2 of its first fiscal year ever.
Ourgame.poker's online site has potential. The potential to grow exponentially if they are legitimate. As well as the potential to crash and burn, Lock Poker-style, if they screw it up. Which will it be? We don't know. We do advise caution though as there are warning signs all about. We hope to get more information about this company over time and update our readers accordingly. If they become viable, we will champion them. If more warning signs pop up, we'll do our best to sound the alarm, educate the ignorant, and save people from any potential scams.