Ideas and Validation May 22, 2020

Does anyone play poker online with friends?

Dmitri Kyle Brereton @dkb868

Would be curious to hear about what sites you use, and what problems you may have faced when using them.

Me and some friends have been working on http://lipoker.io which lets you play with no download, no signups, and has a video chat integration.

Would love to get some feedback on it from any casual poker players out there!

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    I've been playing a ton since COVID-19 started, almost every night! My group uses the Pokerrrr 2 app. I've actually been thinking that someone should build something better.

    Thoughts:

    • At first we all thought mobile was stupid, but mobile is kind of ideal. You can take poker with you to the bathroom, the kitchen, the store, etc. So I'd make sure it works great on phones.
    • In-game chat is crucial, too. We Zoom'd every night for the first couple weeks, then we got tired of fit and stopped. So the in-game chat has become more important than the supplementary video call. And ideally the chat UI would be good, similar to WhatsApp or Telegram.
    • It's really great to have a club (group) that keeps track of games. It's also really great to keep track of hands.
    • Having game moderators is crucial. People fall asleep, or they don't buy in, etc., and need to be kicked.
    • As always, it's worth understanding your target customer. Are they just trying to put together a quick one-off game? Are they a group of friends playing nightly? Etc. Different use-cases require different functionality. Pokerrrr 2 lets us "settle up" and calculates how much everyone owes over different games, because the developers know we're playing for real money and need to pay each other out.
    • Basically, there are just a lot of features that you'll have to build to be as good as the competition.
    • Poker is a game of chance, and people who are running bad will get very paranoid about apps not having good RNG. We have almost quit using Pokerrrr 2 several times due to people not trusting the app. I would get the RNG audited and generally make a big deal over how legitimate and tamper-proof your algorithm is. You'll need to be able to convince someone who just lost $5000 across 10 hands… all to a single player… who happens to be the host of the game, that your app is fair and there's nothing fishy going on. That stuff is going to happen regularly, and that's a very high bar.
    • Design is important. Your app isn't ugly per se, but eventually needs to be better. Even sounds are important. Right now I think you could get a lot of mileage out of doing something as simple as changing the font to something more readable.
    • One thing a lot of apps are missing are different options for custom game rules. For example, my group used to do double-board bomb pots under certain conditions, and the app we use doesn't support that.

    Etc. I could go on forever.

    If you're looking for a mentor/advisor, I'm pretty interested in this space!

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      Wow thanks for this extremely detailed feedback!

      At first we all thought mobile was stupid, but mobile is kind of ideal. You can take poker with you to the bathroom, the kitchen, the store, etc. So I'd make sure it works great on phones.

      That's interesting, we initially assumed that people would mostly be on desktop because they'd want video chat, and why would they want to play in their small phone screen instead of their desktop?

      Turns out about half of our traffic is from mobile users.

      In-game chat is crucial, too. We Zoom'd every night for the first couple weeks, then we got tired of fit and stopped. So the in-game chat has become more important than the supplementary video call. And ideally the chat UI would be good, similar to WhatsApp or Telegram.

      I can see how video calling every day would get tiring haha. We do have in-game chat, though it could probably use some UI improvements.

      It's really great to have a club (group) that keeps track of games. It's also really great to keep track of hands.

      Yeah I think group features would make our site more valuable. People have also been asking for things like group tournaments.

      Having game moderators is crucial. People fall asleep, or they don't buy in, etc., and need to be kicked.

      Definitely coming soon.

      As always, it's worth understanding your target customer. Are they just trying to put together a quick one-off game? Are they a group of friends playing nightly? Etc. Different use-cases require different functionality. Pokerrrr 2 lets us "settle up" and calculates how much everyone owes over different games, because the developers know we're playing for real money and need to pay each other out.

      Our focus is on groups of friends playing games for real money, and we have a leaderboard that helps with that. Currently working on an equivalent "settle up" functionality to show payouts.

      We were also trying to be especially beginner friendly to get people who might not normally play poker, or more casual players, by including things like easily accessible hand rankings.

      Basically, there are just a lot of features that you'll have to build to be as good as the competition.

      Yeah we've been thinking about how much features we need before we start pushing the site out. I think right now we're at a baseline where we can get people from certain other poker sites that have similar functionality to us but a worse UI.

      Poker is a game of chance, and people who are running bad will get very paranoid about apps not having good RNG. We have almost quit using Pokerrrr 2 several times due to people not trusting the app. I would get the RNG audited and generally make a big deal over how legitimate and tamper-proof your algorithm is. You'll need to be able to convince someone who just lost $5000 across 10 hands… all to a single player… who happens to be the host of the game, that your app is fair and there's nothing fishy going on. That stuff is going to happen regularly, and that's a very high bar.

      This is a hard one since no matter what we say, people can choose not to believe us. Maybe open sourcing might be a good solution to this. In the meantime we'll definitely be adding information about our random algorithm.

      Design is important. Your app isn't ugly per se, but eventually needs to be better. Even sounds are important. Right now I think you could get a lot of mileage out of doing something as simple as changing the font to something more readable.

      Definitely a work in progress. Thanks for that feedback.

      One thing a lot of apps are missing are different options for custom game rules. For example, my group used to do double-board bomb pots under certain conditions, and the app we use doesn't support that.

      There's a lot of customization that can be done. The challenge with that is since there's so much that could be done, we have to carefully prioritize which to do first. And I could see a point where having 100 different options might make usability hard. Of course, there's probably a good way to design that.

      If you're looking for a mentor/advisor, I'm pretty interested in this space!

      Thanks for offering to help! We're not sure how far we want to go with the project just yet, but I'll let you know if we're interested in going deeper with it, in which case you'd be a valuable mentor.

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        This is a hard one since no matter what we say, people can choose not to believe us. Maybe open sourcing might be a good solution to this. In the meantime we'll definitely be adding information about our random algorithm.

        I would look at other businesses that operate in low-trust sectors, e.g. used car sales. They've probably got really marketing playbooks for how to establish a brand that people trust and believe has their best interests in mind.

        That said, this def isn't an urgent priority.

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      My friends and I are also exploring ideas about online multiplayer card games, we would really like to listen more of your thoughts about online poker!

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    Yes, there are a lot of sites, which are suited for it.