Niche agent-oriented online poker site PokerMania has closed its doors for good. The news was announced on Dec. 18, 2017 by the site rep in a Twoplustwo thread devoted to the room. Visitors to the PokerMania website currently see the following message:
According to the information provided by PokerMania, there are about 4,400 player withdrawals to process. Working 12-hour days, the staff expects to get through 75 transactions per day and to complete them all within 60 days. From these numbers, we can hazard a guess that payments will be handled manually rather than through an automated system. This rate of withdrawal processing is only about 6 - 7 per hour, which is very low unless someone has to review them all before they're sent.
The site boasted of accepting Bitcoin, Ethereum, and cash deposits. However, the mainstay of its depositing infrastructure came through a network of agents. Professional Rakeback, in prior talks with PokerMania management, had been made aware that a non-trivial portion of the player base used cash deposits and credit via their agents. This is common in agent-based systems especially those that rely on recruiting live players. The collection (or non-collection) of these funds is likely an issue slowing down withdrawal abilities.
PokerMania was an independent poker room using Mavens software. The poker client loaded up in users' web browsers; there was no download installer available. When it first started about four years ago, the site was basically just a way for a group of friends to hold private online home games. Through word of mouth, it grew as live poker players wished to join. Near the beginning of 2017, the room decided to open up admission to ordinary members of the public.
Mid-Stakes Pot Limit Omaha Table at PokerMania
Perhaps because of its roots in the offline poker world, the mix of games that ran at PokerMania was unusual for an online poker site. Although there was some NL Hold'em action, most of the tables were PL Omaha, LHE, HORSE, and other formats. There was less activity in the microstakes than in the higher tables, which ran up to $10/$20 in Omaha and NLHE and $50/$100 in limit games. Player volume consisted of between 300 and 400 users online at once during peak hours.
The text now up on the PokerMania home page says that the room closed because of ”recent changes in poker laws.” However, this doesn't make much sense because we haven't heard of any major new online poker laws that would have come into play here. The rest of the sites that we work with haven't had any legal troubles of late. A look into the history of PokerMania does give us some clues as to what might have gone wrong.
First of all, the Mavens software package is a secure, well-tested poker solution, but it's also very bare-bones. There's no way to run it other than within a web browser. Unlike some other browser-based poker platforms, this one opens up all tables within one big window instead of a separate window for each game. Its main selling point is price: less than $500 for a full license. It works well enough for poker organizations that are just starting out, but as PokerMania started to achieve success, the inadequacies of the Mavens interface became more and more annoying.
In 2016, the largest agent of PokerMania had a disagreement with the owners and opted to start his own site, called PokerBoom. He took a lot of the players with him, which decreased PokerMania's player pools. PokerBoom appears to still be operating online today.
The PokerMania rep revealed on Sept. 27 that the firm had purchased a more robust poker software package from Enterra. However, after a year of testing and a failed rollout that had to be reverted after three days of use, it still wasn't ready to go live. We can only speculate as to how many resources were squandered in buying and testing this poker client that eventually failed to pan out.
On Aug. 30, 2017, PokerMania posted on the Twoplustwo forums that it was headquartered in Iowa. After our very own Kahntrutahn asked how they were able to offer online poker from within the United States, both posts were edited to remove any mention of operating in the United States. The rep later stated that the firm had moved its offices to Costa Rica, but we believe that this was a transparent cover-up and not reflective of the truth. If they really were running an online poker site from within the United States, as we believe was the case, then all the higher-ups at the enterprise would have been at risk of legal prosecution by federal and state authorities. Could it be that the “recent changes in poker laws” referred to earlier involved certain documents being presented to either the owner of the room or his attorney perhaps by a local sheriff?
Turning back to the action at the tables, PokerMania had a system of segregating player accounts based on skill. There were four levels: guppy, fish, shark, and orca. Players grouped into each tier could only play with players in the same and adjacent tiers as themselves and were restricted to certain blind levels. This was probably a move to protect recreational customers from their more savvy adversaries, but it most likely had the effect of reducing overall traffic. Other internet poker entities have tried similar systems in the past, like the Revolution Gaming Network (now Horizon Network) and the Merge Network. Most of these schemes prove to be more trouble than they're worth and are eventually abandoned. PokerMania, however, kept its player ranking system until the end, and it may have had a significant negative impact on player liquidity.
Even the addition of 2004 WSOP winner Greg Raymer in September as a brand ambassador wasn't able to reinvigorate PokerMania's flagging fortunes. On Dec. 4, the site posted seeking prop players. Props are paid to start tables and play shorthanded until games fill up. This is a time-tested means for new card rooms to boost their traffic figures. Previously, Poker Mania was using a prop team run by the long-time prop managers at Rakeback Nation. In the third quarter of 2017, Rakeback Nation, which had been managing props for over a decade, was sold. It is possible that the new owners discontinued the prop program or no longer wished to work with PM for various legal reasons. The attempts to develop an in-house prop team weren't enough to save PokerMania, and the site shut its doors a few weeks later.
PokerMania is the latest room using Mavens software to close down. At one time, even the much-respected Seals With Clubs employed the Mavens poker package, but it switched over to another platform when it rebranded as SwCPoker. Right now, the longest-lived Mavens site appears to be the Dogecoin-focused Poker Shibes, which opened up in March 2014.
Anyone affected by the failure of PokerMania and seeking a new online poker home has a number of options to choose from. If the main attraction of PokerMania for you was its Bitcoin support, then you may want to check out our list of BTC-friendly online poker rooms. For more general information on the internet poker scene for Americans, take a look at our guide to U.S.A. online poker.