Rast, Hunichen and more big names attached as Phenom Poker prepares for launch

Adam Hampton
Published by:
Posted on: January 23, 2024 10:15 am EST

The online poker world is a hard one to break into for a new operator, even when that operator has the backing of some of the game’s biggest names. But that’s the mission set out by the newest kid on the block, Phenom Poker.

Against a backdrop of recent scandals, controversies and concerns over the security of online poker, the new venture this week announced its intentions to shake up the scene.

The site is not yet taking registrations, but has launched with a website and X account detailing its plans for a new approach in the online poker world. These include:

  • Using the stablecoin USDT as currency

USDT is a cryptocurrency tethered to the US dollar, effectively making $ the currency of the site without requiring the movement of dollars to or from financial institutions.

  • Direct linking of Web3 wallets

Player funds will be held in ‘smart contracts’ – effectively in escrow – meaning neither the site nor third parties will have access to those funds. Withdrawals and deposits are therefore redundant terms, as players will effectively use their own digital wallets in place of an account balance.

  • Encrypted P2P shuffling

Where current poker sites employ complex, often proprietary random number generators (RNGs) to ensure a fair shuffle, Phenom Poker will use a decentralized peer-to-peer (P2P) RNG. It claims this means no one can ever have access to hole card info, rendering ‘superuser’ issues impossible.

  • Zero tolerance for cheats

Phenom Poker will adopt a zero strike policy for users found to be using real-time assistance (RTA) tools or colluding with others, issuing permanent bans where ‘bad actors’ are found.

  • AI-powered bot detection

Machine learning and AI technology will be used to detect non-human playing behavior, as well as collusion and other suspicious play.

  • Shared ownership via ‘Phenom Tokens’

Phenom Tokens awarded as part of the customer loyalty program can be traded in for cash (USDT), with exchange rates updated weekly, or kept. Keeping Phenom Tokens allows players to share in 50% of the site’s revenue, as well as have a say in the management and direction of the site. The initial supply of Phenom Tokens is 50 million, with half of that amount set aside to be distributed to players.

Big names signed up already

Poker player Brian Rast in a baseball cap at the poker table
Brian Rast, pictured at the WPT World Championship in 2023, is one of the big name ambassadors to have been announced

WSOP bracelet-winner Nathan Gamble has joined Phenom Poker as Director of Ambassador Relations, with a list of player ambassadors including:

  • California’s #1 money winner Brian Rast
  • High-stakes pro Joseph Cheong
  • North Carolina’s #1 money winner Chris Hunichen
  • WPT/EPT/PGT winner Sergio Aido
  • Two-time WSOP bracelet winner Eric Baldwin
  • WSOP Circuit record-breaker Ari Engel
  • Cash game livestream regular Justin Young

In these early stages there remain plenty of questions to be answered, not least the thorny issue of whether Phenom Poker can offer games to players in the US.

A tweet about Phenom Poker serving US players

Whatever happens, innovation and new ideas are always welcome, and we’ll be keeping a close eye out for any new announcements.

Brian Rast image courtesy of the WPT