A little while ago, we wrote a piece about how Microgaming was closing down its poker network, deciding to move away from the famous card game. Since then, the company has launched a series of multi-player poker games within its online casino service, seemingly meaning that the decision to shut the Microgaming Poker Network was more about how the company offered poker rather than whether they’d offer it at all.
The new versions of poker that Microgaming are offering customers are optimised to be played on mobile phones, including the ability to play with your phone in the horizontal position. The games are aimed at more casual players, rather than the serious poker players that the MPN was always hoping to attract. As an example, the Hold’em Poker game is a sit ’n’ go style of play, with a prize pool decided at random.
Ending the Poker Network
Microgaming Poker Network, often known simply as MPN, had been running for 16 years when the company announced that it was going to close it. Many poker players enjoyed the MPN experience, leading many to question why it was that Microgaming had decided to call time on it. An announcement suggested that it was done in order to ‘redistribute key personnel’.
Hidden within the company’s official announcement on the closing down of the Microgaming Poker Network was a reference to the fact that it was ‘not the end for poker at Microgaming’, yet at the time there was a reluctance to expand on that.
We now know that it was a reference to the new form of poker that is currently on offer through, meaning that their intention was more about re-packaging their poker product rather than removing it entirely.
New Games Aimed at Casual Players (Sorry, Sharks!)
Microgaming’s own history with online poker is enough to suggest that the company understands the appeal of the game to online players. The original announcement about the closing of the Microgaming Poker Network caused a sense of shock in the industry for exactly that reason. Far from being the end of their association with the game, however, it was instead simply the shifting of how we play poker that they were engaged in.
The company has long been associated with providing operators around the world with a ‘diverse portfolio of casino games’, so in many ways, we should be surprised that they’ve decided to try to re-invent the poker wheel. There was an expectation from many about how online poker works, with most sticking to the tried and tested method of allowing different sites to sign up and be part of the same poker network.
The problem with that way of offering online poker, however, was that it was prime real estate for sharks to swim in the waters of the network and pick off more casual players. As a result, it was always tricky for poker networks to find a way to attract casual poker players, especially on a regular basis. That is almost certainly what the thinking was behind the new style of poker game, which is aimed at the casual player.
A New Strategic Direction
Announcing the new games and confirming that Hold’Em Poker was the first on the list for release, Microgaming made reference to the company following a ‘new strategic direction’. The Hold’Em Poker game is, as the name suggests, Microgaming’s take on the old Texas Hold’em format. The twist is that it is aimed at offering players a ‘realistic poker room environment’ in which to immerse themselves.
There are a number of things that add appeal to the Hold’Em Poker experience, not least of which is the fact that it is aimed at bringing in mobile players. The £5 buy-in Sit ’n’ Go tournament uses a random prize pool variation on the game, meaning that players won’t know what they’re playing for until they sit at the table. Given there’s also a progressive jackpot that starts at £25,000, it could be a decent amount of money.
Launched on the 9th of December in 2020 for all customers after an eight day trial period for select players, Hold’Em Poker offers a ‘new dimension’ to online casinos that use the Microgaming vertical. The hope is that poker players will enjoy it because they enjoy the game in general, whilst players of other casino games will be pleased with the quicker, more exciting version that is offered by it.
The Playing Experience
The ‘immersive’ nature of the playing experience is something that Microgaming are truly making a point of with all press releases and other conversations around the new games. When it comes to Hold’Em Poker, it seems as if that is largely based around the dynamic experience and the fact that it is optimised for use on mobile phones. That means that you’ll be able to play poker with your phone in portrait mode, for example.
The company has worked hard on introducing new avatars to add to the game’s appeal, whilst the prize pool generator will add a really interesting aspect to the way that things play out. Before the Hold’Em Poker game gets underway, a roulette-style wheel spins to decide how much money will be on offer for the winner of the game. Whatever it lands on will dictate how much people can win.
More Games to Follow
Perhaps the key factor when it comes to the launch of the new poker variant by Microgaming is that Hold’Em Poker is just the beginning. The company is determined to win back the poker clients that it lost when it closed down the Microgaming Poker Network, so it’s coming up with a number of different variants that will appeal to different people for a whole host of reasons. Hold’Em Poker is first because it offers the broadest appeal.
At the time of writing, Microgaming have kept their cards close to their chest regarding what the other games will look like. We know that one of them will be called Lucky Showdown, which suggests a heads up style game that is more akin to something like blackjack then the long-form version of poker. Whatever shape this version of the game takes, it promises a new twist on the classic casino game.