Poker Is a Virtue

1 year ago
Poker Is a Virtue - The New Platform for Poker
09:08
02 Nov

(Photo: Virtue.poker)

If you type ‘online poker scandal’ into Google, you get about 1.7million hits, which is rather a lot – and not far short of ‘online poker security’ with 1.95million results.

For some people, the problems with securing online sites and ensuring funds and games are safe is one of the biggest reasons they don’t play online anymore – but now Virtue Poker are looking to attract those very players with their new blockchain-based platform.

‘Play without Fear’ is their tagline, and the Brooklyn-based team claim that their newly-developed site ‘puts players in control in a framework they can trust’.


‘The integrity of gaming software is frequently called into question,’ they say, and it’s hard to argue with this in many respects – we only need think of the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet scandals, not to mention ‘Black Friday’.

"Player funds are being lost, stolen or seized,’ they state, adding that ‘the regulatory response has been so fragmented that many players struggle to find a site they can trust. If you are a poker player, you’ve either given up or you begrudgingly play online."

That point is arguable of course, millions of players quite happy with how the online game operates and deals with such matters, but who exactly are Virtue Poker and what do they plan to do differently?

"We are a team of computer scientists and online poker players building this platform to address the shortfalls of centralized online poker and to create a better online experience,’ reads their website. ‘Using Ethereum, Virtue Poker instills trust and transparency into an industry riddled with scandal,’ with the bold claim ‘Virtue Poker is revolutionizing online poker'."



How does it work?

If you’re a bit of a technophobe, like me, it all sounds very clever and… as clear as a foggy day in the swamps! But basically:

"The Ethereum framework is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.”

The Virtue Poker team explains that:

"On traditional server architectures, every application has to set up its own servers that run their own code in isolated silos, making sharing of data hard. If a single app is compromised or goes offline, many users and other apps are affected."

So the bugs and problems which afflict some sites don’t really exist, and they can’t be hacked or ‘superused’ the way normal poker sites can – which is most definitely a good thing.

With the apps being run on a custom-built blockchain - an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property –it means that developers can ‘create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middle man or counterparty risk'.

So, why would Virtue Poker be safer than ‘normal’ poker sites?



Tamper Proof Gaming

‘All gameplay happens using off-chain P2P state channels using an audited, secure implementation of mental poker’ states the Virtue Poker site. Baffled? Befuddled? Me too – I’ll explain it let you know when one of my clever friends explains it to me in words of 2 syllables or less! But it sounds safe!


Instant Payouts

Payouts in online poker can often be an issue, varying from almost instant to several weeks in some cases, but Virtue Poker explains that ‘Our table smart contracts automatically distribute payouts based on game outcomes directly into your digital wallet’. With the rise in use of currencies such as BitCoin, this might well be of interest to a lot of poker players.


Security of Player Funds

‘Players do not deposit money into a centralized Virtue Poker system. Instead, players fund their personal digital wallets and enter games with these funds.’ This negates one of the biggest problems online poker faces with new and ‘once-bitten, twice-shy’ players.

Thousands of players lost out when Black Friday hit and Full Tilt went busto, with careers and bank balances ruined beyond repair in many cases. If the funds are almost always in your possession, it’s not clear how such things could happen – although doubtless there are other concerns which need to be addressed with ‘digital wallets’ and ‘crypto-currencies’.



Guaranteed Tournaments

Virtue poker make the point that:

"Competitors spend money on expensive sponsorships on poker stars and athletes, we feel like our players would prefer if we spent that money on them instead, so we put our marketing resources into guaranteed tournaments."

Good. Guaranteed tournaments, when done properly, are a hugely important part of the poker market.

So, Virtue Poker is the latest attempt to bring online poker out of the Stone Age and into a Brave New World. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t understand the technology well-enough to know if it will succeed or not, and this might go for many of the ‘older generation’ of poker players, even online ones – but clever people and smart ideas often have a habit of getting there in the end, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they find a market full of takers!


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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more

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