No Bluff: Going to Full House - Bodog.com's plan to take the Poker World by Storm.
Two months before anyone even heard that Bodog.com Sportsbook and Casino was entering the online Poker business, ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell was already asking Bodog about poker. What's interesting about this is not that ESPN was writing about poker, but that a company that didn't even offer poker yet, was already in the Rolodex to talk about the rising popularity of the game.
But the story of how Bodog entered the poker business actually started over nine years ago. Back in 1995, during the heyday of the Dot Com boom, Founder and CEO, Cole Turner, combined the best of the online sports betting business with the best in technology. Operating out of , Bodog became the first to become fully licensed by the government there.
"The business model was simple and designed to treat the sports wagering world just like any other business," said Turner. "I utilized our homegrown management team to help us deliver the fastest payouts in the industry through our own revolutionary Instant Online Check system, that allows players to make fast deposits and get payouts all from their own checking accounts, and excellent customer service to build a mainstream business. "
Even the name Bodog was conceived strategically. Like a soft drink or new car name, Bodog was designed to sound aggressive, bear fewer than six letters, and be an available URL. Turner was literally laughed at by competitors in the early days for some of his ideas. They aren't laughing anymore, as the gamble quickly paid off. Where other companies were secretive, Bodog became increasingly transparent and open. Where other companies were low-key and boring, Bodog offered an entertaining, almost flamboyant product. By dominating the technology and marketing aspects of international wagering, Bodog was able to grab considerable market share by simply delivering a superior product beyond just offering the odds.
As Turner tells it, "We know we are in the entertainment business and we want everyone who plays or works with us to enjoy the experience. This is causing the Bodog.com brand to become the first brand that came out of the international online sports betting industry that has an opportunity to become a major mainstream consumer brand."
Naturally, this brings us back to poker. Early this year, Bodog began to research what exactly it would take to add poker to its product offering. It turns out the easiest and best way for Bodog to do this was to find the best people, the best technology, and bring them into the Bodog family. This "if you build it, they will come" mentality has served Bodog well over the years as Bodog takes pride in developing their systems in house to offer seamless play between the sportsbook, casino, and poker tables.
"We wanted to take what we do best in sports and casino wagering, especially the fact that we are respected and trusted, to enable us to deliver a great product," said Bodog President Rob Gillespie. "And the best way to deliver a poker product worthy of the Bodog name was to develop it in house, just the way we wanted it."
The other major challenge for Bodog was to do this entire process within a short window before the start of the busy football-betting season in September. Imagine Bill Gates and Microsoft deciding to add an entire new system in just months and you get a small sense of the Herculean undertaking. Working around the clock, Bodog's in-house Poker development team has created an entire online poker room from the ground up. This meant Bodog had to find the right people to design, test, and deliver the product to the public, while also finding the time to come up with an entirely new system to manage peer-to-peer wagering, a first for the company.
"This kind of huge rollout, of such a different and brand new product, in such a short time frame, has been both exciting and rewarding," said Gillespie. "When we entered the sportsbook world we changed the industry, and so, when we enter the poker world we expect to compete for market share immediately by offering a superior product and community to both our existing stable of players and by introducing ourselves to an entirely new market. I think poker players will be happy with the results. Our great multi-player poker action features everything from Texas Hold‘Em to Omaha High-Low and they will be impressed by our strong commitment to customer service."
That competition for the hearts and minds of the online poker world, begins with Bodog's "Kick off Classic" Tournament, which will award a grand prize of a $25,000 Seat at the World Poker Tour Championships next April at the Bellagio in
"The most important thing in online wagering has always been trust. And we have built a solid reputation around a name people can trust," said Turner. "So naturally, we feel confident that we can apply that reputation to poker by offering the best software, customer service, and poker experience in the industry."
If anyone can tackle the big players in the poker world it is Turner and Bodog. Already Bodog has announced plans to sponsor a follow up to this year's highly successful Handicapper Conference (
) with a second conference next year focusing on poker. These first steps into the poker industry should help to quickly place Bodog on the map and who knows what other aces Bodog has up its sleeve.
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