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Poker news | Aug 13, 2020

TonyBet Poker Abruptly Closes

By RTR Dennis

665x200 aug20 tonybet closes
TonyBet Poker was launched in late 2013 as part of an online sportsbook and casino operation. The entire TonyBet operation was founded by famed poker pro Antanas ‘Tony G’ Guoga in 2009.

TonyBet Poker showed quite a bit of promise in its early days thanks to Tony G’s name recognition and its willingness to experiment with new ideas. However, this online poker room has now fallen by the wayside after closing. Now owned by Betsson, the site’s internet casino and sportsbook continue to operate.

Why Did TonyBet Poker Close?

No reason was given for this poker room shutting down. Instead, players who tried visiting were redirected to either the TonyBet bookmaker or casino.

Therefore, I can only speculate on the reasoning for the closure. The most likely reason is simply that TonyBet—an independent poker operator—never gained the necessary traffic to succeed.

Guoga sold the entire operation to Betsson in 2016. Since then, the TonyBet Poker Network never had more than a few hundred hourly cash players. By the summer of 2020, only around 50 hourly cash players were active.

Of course, Betsson probably could’ve poured more resources into the site to keep it running. However, they likely concluded that focusing on TonyBet’s casino and sportsbook will be more profitable.

Highlights of TonyBet Poker

TonyBet became the first site to fully dive into Chinese Poker. They noticed a growing number of pros taking up this game and tried to capitalize.

Chinese Poker, however, turned out to be a short-term fixation by pro players. The operator turned to more-traditional games, such as hold’em and Omaha, in the aftermath.

But TonyBet still never stopped trying to reinvent itself. It launched a unique rakeback program that revolved around one’s win rate. Simply put, better players earned back a larger percentage of their rake.

This poker room also became one of the first to start accepting Bitcoin. They took BTC deposits starting in 2016 as a way to connect with cryptocurrency-focused players.

What Went Wrong?

Online poker has become a more-competitive landscape than ever before. The boom years are long gone, and successful operators need to stand out in some way.

As covered before, TonyBet tried doing this by rolling out Chinese Poker games, accepting Bitcoin, and inventing a new rakeback model. But none of these efforts resulted in any long-term loyalty from players.

Ultimately, TonyBet Poker lost the numbers game. They may have tried new-and-interesting ideas, but they still never managed to draw serious traffic.

Since its inception, TonyBet always seemed more focused on their casino and sports betting site than poker. The latter always took a backseat and never received full attention.

This poker room seemed like it had a good chance to succeed after opening in 2013. After all, Tony G was one of the most-popular pros in his prime and went on to serve in European Parliament from 2014 to 2019.

The operation also expanded from Estonia to other European countries over the years, including Denmark, Lithuania, and the UK. Not even an expanded market, though, could help
TonyBet Poker survive.

Most Online Poker Sites Doing Well Amid COVID-19

The Poker Boom is long gone, but the online game is experiencing somewhat of a resurgence lately. With many people social distancing due to COVID-19, more gamblers are logging onto internet poker sites.

TonyBet wasn’t able to take full advantage of this trend before shutting down. However, other sites have benefited greatly from the traffic uptick.

Players aren’t able to play at their favorite land-based venues. They’re now redirecting their poker passion to the cyber felt.

Some sites have seen record tournament prize pools and a large increase in traffic. That said, TonyBet may be out of the picture, but the game as a whole is doing better than ever right now.