What are live poker applications used for?
Live poker applications are used to help poker players find the live cash games and tournaments in their area. Historically these apps have been used to give players up-to-date information about casinos and card rooms, as well as provide information on when and where live games are happening. Most of these apps have also grown to include a community section that allows users to communicate the pros and cons of a given location and what they’re offering.
Live poker applications can also make it easier for traveling poker enthusiasts to quickly find games in their area that would normally take a lot of digging and local knowledge to uncover. Poker’s tight-knit community is not always publicly broadcast and apps that provide live gaming information make it significantly easier to get a snapshot of what’s available in the area.
Who uses live poker apps?
Although the simple and obvious answer is a poker player, the real answer is slightly more nuanced than that. As digital media has created more widely available information about the game, more and more people are being exposed to poker. Up-and-comers have more tools to learn how to play, and the use of digital learning makes online poker an easier arena to quickly gain access to the poker world. The average online poker player is invariably younger, and therefore more likely to have not had their first poker experience in a live casino or card room setting.
This has created an increased sense of novelty surrounding live poker, and a well defined community that searches for the experience of playing at a real table rather than a digital one. This means that the average live poker app user is a savvy poker enthusiast that usually has more experience and knows what they’re looking for in terms of an ideal setting or game type.
Why aren’t live poker apps more user friendly?
There aren’t more than a handful of companies that have taken the time to understand the nuance of the live poker market and built applications that are up to the task of pairing players with live poker games.
The challenge with a service of this type is that it’s incredibly difficult to provide up-to-date information on cash games, tournaments, and waitlists happening inside the casino. The reason for this is that a casino needs deeply embedded software systems that not only provide infrastructural organization and data management, but that also can aggregate information and broadcast it to a player facing application in real time.
The management software that casinos and card rooms use are the primary hub for being able to manage players and games inside of the casino. These software systems are attached to complex management architecture that has to communicate with multiple departments, and offer insights into various aspects of operation.
Building full-wrap enterprise systems like this takes an immense amount of development skill, industry knowledge and insight, as well as a sizable investment to get a fully functioning system off the ground. Navigating patents—like the ones we currently hold on our MTL systems—as well as other legal complexities, can also be significant barriers to entry.
Once you start peeling back the layers you begin to understand how difficult the task is of offering an app that communicates real-time gaming information. This presents a unique problem that only a handful of companies have attempted to solve over the last decade. There are solutions in the market, but unfortunately none of them are on par with what a consumer comes to expect from a modern web-based application.
We wanted to solve this problem once and for all, and set out on the journey of creating a better application for the live poker community. It’s taken us more than a year, but we recently launched version one of our application, Cardroom Club, and couldn’t be more excited to spread the word. Here’s why we did it.
3 reasons why poker needed a better application for finding live games
1. Modern design
The most popular applications to date have been clunky and unintuitive to navigate, at best. The typical user path in most of these apps have been a mish-mash of confusing drop-down menus and poor user interactions that generally leave a player confused and unable to find the information they originally set out for.
The navigation bars are laid out in strange ways and the usability in most scenarios is largely lacking due to poor visual cues. Typical best practices for user experience and user interface design seem to be totally ignored in most cases. The poor choice of colors, font types, and user interface elements are usually difficult to overlook, and actively detract from the user experience.
The screen layouts seem to not have been updated for the newest mobile display dimensions, which makes it difficult to access certain primary features. The way you move through the app to find information becomes cumbersome and difficult to manage.
How we improved it
We focused on a user centered design that makes it simple and easy for a player to create a profile and engage with the information at hand. The contrast levels and color palette were intentionally chosen to be inviting and easy on the eyes. The home screen centers around three primary categories: Explore, Favorites, and Activities. These areas all contain the most pertinent information to the user’s profile and makes it easy to move in and out of the app’s core features.
The favorites section quickly places a player’s most visited casinos at the forefront of the application and makes it simple and easy to engage with repeat casino profiles. The user interface elements such as buttons and toggles are offset with appropriate contrast to make it easy to identify where to click and why. The navigation menu is clearly labeled and depicts the architecture of the app in such a way that navigation is immediately intuitive, even for a brand new user.
In Cardroom Club, the user can easily set location based on city or zip code, at which point all app functionality revolves around the user’s location. This presents a visual context that makes choosing the right game in the right casino considerably easier. This was the core function of the app in the first place, and was the most important element of success for us.
2. Speed and function
The biggest problem we ran into while sifting through reviews on competitors was one that took us by surprise. Most of the reviews looked something like these:
We found A LOT of these. It seemed strange that the largest thing plaguing the market was simply an app that didn’t work. Usually we assume that spending the time and money to develop an application means doing the due diligence on the development side and making sure that all your bases are covered. Sometimes these things are overlooked, however, and we saw an opportunity to give players something that they sorely needed: a stable app that worked well.
How we improved it
We built our app using the modern development framework, Flutter. Flutter provides a useful solution to be able to develop in a cross-platform environment that allows us to successfully develop for android, iOS, and web simultaneously. Being an open sourced app framework created by Google, Flutter is managed at the highest standard of software engineering technology and has arguably the most active contributing user community in app development.
Flutter runs on the scripting language Dart—also developed by Google. The native framework processing renders inside Flutter which means that the source code doesn’t have to communicate to each user’s device via a bridge—something that can diminish app performance and long term scalability.
Further, Dart’s ability to hot-reload means that our developers can perform live changes of the app to efficiently make corrections and do testing to provide the best possible application experience for our users. A major concern for us was being able to easily make changes whenever we see room for improvement or receive feedback from users, and Flutter gives us the ability to do so.
3. A more manageable solution for players and casinos
Today, casino management software companies have proprietary systems that manage operational challenges in their own individual way. Because the industry is still developing, some of these systems work better than others, and some of the management software “best practices” are still evolving. This means that independent casinos have to take what they can get in the form of available management software solutions.
Unfortunately, some casinos get held hostage by long software licensing contracts with companies offering sub-par software products. Because so few companies offer independent casinos the software needed to run modern operations, casinos sometimes end up using less than satisfactory products from companies that have simply hung around longer than others. Casinos become tethered to these companies and due to significant barriers of entry, available products stagnate and both the casino and poker players end up with poor products.
Due to the complexity of informational flow within a casino, both the internal management software and player facing applications need to work in tandem. The availability of modern management software at an affordable price has been seriously lacking over the years. This has left a gap in the market for someone that can offer a great app for finding live poker, as well as offer casinos what they need in the way of management tools.
How we improved it
We knew that the problem surrounding live poker apps went deeper than just building a better tool. It required a holistic approach to solving both the flaws found in the current management software model, as well as the way software companies served this information to players on the other end.
We built Cardroom Club as a standalone web-based application that offers casinos a stable, user-focused tool to manage waitlists, as well as a player-facing application that functions completely independent of the other software tools in a card room. Cardroom Club offers a modern approach to waitlist management at a much lower price than other casino management software companies.
Cardroom Club bridges the gap between player facing information needs and the tools the casinos need to fully operate a busy room with complex waitlist components. Cardroom Club gives casinos an affordable way to use modern tools that don’t force operators to compromise in crucial areas and get tethered to lengthy contracts with the wrong company.
What’s in the future of live poker applications?
As a new competitor in the live gaming application space, we know that it will take time to develop the following necessary to reach all poker players looking for live poker solutions nationally, or around the world. In the meantime, we’re doing everything in our power to spread the word about Cardroom Club and get as many casinos involved as possible. We know that the most successful apps in history started with small loyal communities and we’re excited to bring innovation and convenience to as many poker players and casinos as we can. It takes a community to invoke change and innovation, and we couldn’t be more excited to be at the forefront.