As part of the happenings connected with the recent Live Cage tournament in Costa Rica, we here at Professional Rakeback were kindly invited to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Winning Poker Network’s office in San Jose. There, we got to see where all the magic happens and learn a little bit about the WPN's day-to-day operations.
The WPN head office occupies a four-story office building in San Jose. There are approximately 175 employees, responsible for such diverse tasks as game operations, marketing and SEO, security, information technology, software development, customer support, and affiliate relations.
Phil Nagy, the CEO of the WPN, led a presentation about various aspects of the network’s business. The data Phil presented showed that revenue, deposits, and first-time deposits all grew year-over-year consecutively from 2014 through 2017. The numbers for 2018 were incomplete but seemed to continue this upward trend.
Phil credited the Agile management framework for a big part of this success. This is a business philosophy that prioritizes collaboration, cross-functional teamwork, and small, incremental changes over major shakeups. Agile enables solutions to problems to be found rapidly and deployed without a lot of lag time.
Of course, the big controversy lately regarding Americas Cardroom and the rest of its partner sites on the Winning Poker Network has been an alleged infusion of bots at the tables. Some people in the poker community have singled out this site as having a particular problem with bots. Phil gave us some info about what he is doing to combat this form of illicit automated playing software.
Right off the bat, Phil clarified that almost all of the actions that the security department takes against suspected botters must, of necessity, occur outside the public view. They cannot risk making enforcement strategies public because doing so would merely give wrongdoers a better idea of how to get away with their misdeeds. A further wrinkle is introduced by the WPN’s customer confidentiality responsibilities, which make it basically impossible for the network to comment openly about whether or not a particular user is a bot or not.
That being said, the personnel charged with ensuring the integrity of the games have access to tools that would make a statistics geek drool. They’re not limited to just collecting histories of a subset of players’ hands over months or years and then attempting to identify patterns. Instead, they’re able to view all hands and games played by a particular individual. Security also can see what IPs and MAC addresses are associated with specific users, run reports to identify teams of bots or colluders who play at the same tables often, access geolocation data, correlate player-to-player transfer records to trace unusual activity, and a whole lot more.
Phil Nagy argues that his team does a better job at fighting bots than anyone else in the industry but that he gets more flak on this topic than other rooms because some competitors take steps that make it tough for players to spot bots. Sites that use anonymized screen names could be infested with bots, but nobody can effectively track their play to pinpoint what's going on. The same applies to sites that let players change their screennames every so often: A bot could very easily escape notice for a few months until the account gets to pick a new name and basically restart with a blank slate, in the eyes of other players, as far as stats tracking is concerned.
An important component of the way the Winning Network does business is its support for crypto-currency, enabling speedy and low-fee deposits and withdrawals. It was one of the pioneers among mainstream offshore poker sites when it adopted Bitcoin in its cashier in 2014. The WPN followed up in 2017 by adding more than 60 digital coins to its payment choices.
According to the figures we saw, more than 60% of deposits are conducted through cryptos, and Phil estimated that this percentage has in recent months crept up closer to the 70% mark. This means that a growing continent of ACR's user base now has experience with the fast payouts made possible by crypto coins. The lion’s share of these digital money deposits use BTC as opposed to altcoins.
One unexpected consequence caused by the WPN's reliance on crypto-currency was demonstrated by a graph that Phil showed us. It tracked the price of Bitcoin and the real money player count at the network, and it indicated a strong positive correlation between the two. That is, more people are playing when the BTC price is higher: certainly a blessing during the final half of last year when Bitcoin went on a massive bull run but perhaps a bit disappointing given this year's stagnant and/or declining prices.
Eagle-eyed observers of the Americas Cardroom lobby have undoubtedly noticed that while the new 6+ Hold’em variant now has its own tab in the poker software, the long-present SNG 2.0 tab has been removed. Indeed, there’s now no SNG 2.0 being offered at the WPN. Phil stated that it would return in the upcoming version 2 release of the poker client, but for now, these games have been temporarily retired.
Lest you be too disappointed at the disappearance of a unique game format, though, rest assured that the WPN has something up its sleeves. It’s called Blitz Poker and will be the first fast-fold poker format to ever appear at the network. Its only real competitor in this space among U.S.A.-friendly online poker sites is Ignition/Bovada on the PaiWangLuo Network. The Chico Poker Network added fast-fold Boost poker in January 2018, but it failed to get much traction and is currently only spread for microstakes.
It seems that what the staff of the Winning Poker Network has been doing has been very successful over the years. It had an average of fewer than 200 real money cash game players at the tables in 2012, which has since more than tripled to 650.
Not only has the ring game scene become busier during this time, but tournaments have also picked up as well. The WPN boasts the largest scheduled weekly Sunday Major MTT for U.S.A. players, the $200 + $15 Sunday Special, which guarantees a prize pool of no less than $150,000.
If you'd like to see what all the excitement is about, then open up an account at Americas Cardroom today. You can get $10 for free with our PRB10FREE bonus code, and you'll also receive a 100% up to $1,000 bonus and $50 in complimentary cash upon making your first deposit. Read our comprehensive ACR poker review page for more information.
Americas Cardroom has several sister sites on the Winning Network, and they're all fine places to play cards. If you're looking for a different WPN skin, then we heartily recommend BlackChip Poker, True Poker, and Ya Poker (non-US).