Celebrity poker players trying to create online destinations hasn't always gone particularly smoothly. It's a very touchy subject thanks to the disaster that was Full Tilt Poker with a few big-name players being involved - including Chris Ferguson.
However, two poker players are still looking to use their brand to help move the game in a positive direction. A couple of celebrity players are looking to freshen things up a little bit in the world of online poker rooms, although it remains to be seen if they have the financial chops to do so.
Phil Galfond is well known in the poker world - especially when it comes to online poker. He has two World Series of Poker bracelet wins from 2008 and 2015, but it is online where he really made his name. Galfond won over $10 million on Full Tilt Poker as of February 2013. Galfond is trying to start his own poker room called RunItOnce Poker and the plan is to make it more player-friendly. Whether it succeeds or not remains to be seen.
Starting a poker room can be really expensive for one person (or a handful of people) trying to go up against the likes of PokerStars, which is why we've already seen the opening date for RunItOnce be pushed back. RunItOnce is already a functional poker school where members can sign up and get professional poker training online. Now Galfond wants to take it a step further and offer them a place to play.
However, there are plenty of costs that are piling up for the website. There is the cost of online security, which nowadays might be the most important aspect of doing business on the internet. There is the cost of marketing, such as getting a team together to design and then run the website, plus the cost of obeying regulations, processing deposits and withdrawals and much more. While Galfond has made a pretty penny from playing online poker in his career, this is an expensive undertaking.
Then there is LuckyChewy Poker, which was started by Andrew Lichtenberger, another well-known online poker player who has made five World Series of Poker final tables and won a bracelet in 2016. "LuckyChewy" is his online alias. Lichtenberger's venture is aiming for high-volume players, and he is looking to use the low rake/high rewards system. He won't have a lot of revenue, but Lichtenberger is trying to offer high rewards to lure players. According to Lichtenberger, he's already been approved by the UK Gambling Commission.
Galfond and Lichtenberger see an opening in the online poker market. We'll see if they can take advantage in the long run.