Virtue Poker is a “multi-chain, Ethereum-based decentralized poker platform.”
The platform announced today that it has raised $5 million from its round of strategic investment. The platform also announced that the Malta Gaming Authority has awarded them their B2C Service License. So, a live product will be coming down the chute forthwith.
The platform’s investors currently include Pantera Capital, Consensys, the DFG Group, and Jez San from FunFair. Phil Ivey also holds a stake in the company. He also serves as a public spokesperson along with Dan Coleman and Brian Rast.
“I’ve been working with the Virtue Poker team for nearly 3 years,” Ivey said in the announcement. “Watching them build a next-generation poker platform. It uses a blockchain-based system that creates a more secure and globally accessible payment system. I’m excited to continue my partnership with the Virtue Poker team. And to work to bring the platform to poker communities worldwide.”
Virtue also announced their investment successes on Twitter.
“We’re happy to announce we’ve completed $5 million in new funding,” @Virtue_Poker wrote. “And have received our gaming license from the Malta Gaming Authority. Full platform launch coming soon…”
Virtue describes itself in the press release as “a decentralized poker platform that uses the Ethereum blockchain and peer-to-peer networking to provide an online poker site that’s safe, honest and fun.”
Its key gimmicks are a decentralised shuffling system and its Etherium-based tokens called VPPs.
The shuffling system is a baroque solution to a simple problem. It doesn’t have a single random number generator on a dedicated server to shuffle the deck. Instead, each player’s own computer takes a turn at shuffling and encrypting the deck before the hands are dealt. Each computer then sends all the others a decryption code so that players can view their hole cards.
The idea is that there are two to ten times (depending on table size) more rounds of encryption than having a centralized RNG. Ergo, the whole thing is two to ten times more secure.
The Virtue platform also uses its own tokens, called VPPs, as well as Etherium. This makes it the first and only blockchain-based poker platform to be licensed by Malta.
“Virtue Poker conducted a token sale in May 2018 in which we sold 100 million tokens at the price of 4,000 VPPs = 1 ETH,” the Virtue site’s FAQ says. “These VPPs have three utilities in the Virtue Poker network: 1) Stake and Earn Fees. […] 2) Play in VPP-denominated games. […] 3) Play in special tournaments. […]”
Virtue Poker tokens aren’t listed on exchanges yet. And they will not be tradeable until Virtue fully launches on the Etherium main net.
Raises, checks, and balances
The ideas behind Virtue are neat, but there may be some trouble breaking into the market in a serious way.
The shuffling system is supposed to counter the oft-asked non-question of “Is it rigged?” in a reassuring way. But less tech-savvy users may find it disconcerting that the software has their opponent’s computer shuffle the cards.
Understanding and comfort with cryptocurrencies may also prove a barrier to entry. VPPs — and even Etherium, to a lesser extent — are a little off the mainstream for many punters.
But above all, there is no shortage of established competition. Poker sites abound, and plenty of them take crypto nowadays.
On the other hand, there may be a sufficient hardcore of poker players and crypto heads to make this project run.
“After years of consultation, in person meetings, and effort, Virtue Poker can proudly say we are the only licensed blockchain-based poker application in the market,” CEO Ryan Gittleson said in the announcement. “Blockchain technology provides modern and secure payment infrastructure that provides global accessibility to consumers, unlike our competitors. By working with regulators to become a licensed online gambling company, Virtue Poker now has legitimacy to crossover and compete for customers from legacy providers to bring blockchain-based wagering mainstream.”
It probably doesn’t hurt that Virtue has Ivey — the last living GOAT — shilling for them either.
“Giving away seats in a private game against me,” the ten-time WSOP bracelet winner wrote on Twitter back in March. “Costs $0 to play and you could be heads up with me for $7k. Download at http://virtuepoker.com. RT for entry.”
Despite the possible issues, businesses like Virtue Poker might have a way in. The recent spate of poker-themed NFTs from Tony G and the World Poker Tour make it feel like the promise of blockchain tech, so long touted by futurists, might finally be extending beyond the borders of cryptocurrencies.
Featured image source: Flickr by Marco Verche