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e-pokerUSA.com Launches Real-Money Tournaments

22 September 2006

Pinhas Romik admits that he's not a very good poker player, but he does think his Web site, www.e-pokerUSA.com, is about to revolutionize the game.

e-pokerUSA.com hosts a skill game that is a poker-bridge hybrid. The game follows the same rules as poker, but adds the duplicate scoring aspects of bridge to eliminate the luck of the draw.

And while Romik may lack poker experience, no one can argue with his bridge credentials. A decorated bridge player with numerous top-two finishes in international competition, Romik built Duplicate Inc. (formerly e-bridge Inc.), an online card room for bridge players.

The site became so successful that he sold it to WorldWinner.com in 2004, giving Romik time to pursue other ventures. The latest, e-pokerUSA.com, launched for real-money tournaments on Monday and will launch real-money ring games in the next two weeks.

The site pits players against one another in Texas Hold'em "duplicate poker" matches. Players at one table are dealt the exact same hole cards as players at other tables. The flop, turn and river are also identical on all tables in play.

Players start every hand with the same number of "hand chips," which are merely used for scoring and not for monetary purposes. At the end of each hand, the chip totals for each set of players are compared with those who played duplicate hands. Results are not determined by who wins the hand, but instead by who maximizes winning hands and minimizes losing ones. If you finish with more chips than your counterpart at another table, you win that round.

"I believe that this is going to be a revolution in poker," Romik says. "It may not appeal to everyone, and we are not trying to convert everyone to this new religion. But I think online skill poker has its own merit to a certain fraction of the market.

"In a normal game, you are dependent on how good the cards you get are. In a duplicate game, your hands are compared with other people who played the same hand as you, so it's immaterial whether your hand is good or bad. Every hand is interesting, every hand is an interesting story."

The Bridge factor
People just learning to play bridge play a standard game, facing opponents at the same table. While skill is obviously a factor, so is the quality of the cards that a player is dealt. Advanced players go one step further, playing "duplicate bridge." In duplicate bridge each player at every table is dealt an identical hand to a player at another table. Play is scored based on your performance compared to your counterparts at other tables.

Romik has taken the idea of comparing players with identical hands from bridge to poker with e-pokerUSA.com.

"We are actively working (to promote duplicate poker)," Romik says. "Once the players see it, the game will spread."

Part of the challenge will be convincing the poker playing population to try a game where winning a pot might actually mean losing chips. Romik says he hopes to run duplicate poker tournaments in live venues and even on television to help educate an audience for the game.

Another factor that may help the game spread is its legal status. Unlike traditional online poker rooms, which credit card companies and the U.S Department of Justice consider gambling sites, e-pokerUSA.com is considered a skill game. The company is headquartered in New York City and is able to take credit card deposits.

In addition, the arrest of two Internet gambling executives this summer, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-Tenn.) attempts to attach the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to legislation has created an uncertain landscape for the Internet gaming world that may benefit e-pokerUSA.com.

"Maybe (the other Internet poker rooms) will dry out and the players will come to us," Romik says. "We are just a normal game of skill, so maybe it will work out even better for us."


AT OffSuite
e-pokerUSA.com Launches Real-Money Tournaments is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.