PokerStars has struck out three times in their efforts to enter the US online poker market. Nevada flat-out denied them, New Jersey said wait two more years, and Delaware didn’t want an operation without an online casino. But while Stars has watched fellow competitors like 888 and partypoker enter the US market, they still hold the trump card.
The Rational Group, PokerStars’ parent company, managed to gain a patent on fast-fold poker, which bodes well for their Zoom Poker product. Patent Number 8,727,850, listed as “Computer gaming device and method for computer gaming,” gives Stars exclusive rights to offer fast-fold variants. This means that 888, which offers Snap Poker, and partypoker, which offers FastForward, both need to worry about their fast-fold variants from a legal standpoint.
Apparently, all it took for PokerStars to gain the patent after hundreds of rejections was a meeting with a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examiner. The examiner explained that Stars should change the phrase “folding out of turn” to refer to “when gameplay is at a position of another one of the first plurality of players.”
Thanks to this simple change, PokerStars now owns a key chip with regard to success in the Untied States. Many poker networks around the world are using fast-fold versions to attract more recreational players. After all, fast-fold poker moves players to a new table with fresh cards when they fold – thus allowing for more hands and less waiting.
With the US market still in its infancy, Stars figures to gain a big upperhand once a state does accept their gaming application. The world’s largest poker site definitely has a good opportunity to enter California. Many believe that the Golden State will legalize poker within the next year. And with Stars heavily lobbying politicians in a state with no major casinos – unlike Nevada and Atlantic City – they’re less likely to get shut out of California.
So whenever PokerStars does get accepted into the US, they’ll definitely have one big advantage over everybody else – as if they didn’t already with their massive size and resources.