Yahoo online poker has announced it will be shutting down its play money games effective at the end of the month, citing the fact that changing technologies have left it in a state that Yahoo no longer wants to support.
Yahoo says the game is now “incompatible, insecure, and no longer functioning correctly,” due in large part to behind-the-scenes changes and “increased security requirements” for Yahoo web pages.
The move comes as a surprise, considering the amount of attention the Yahoo poker game has been receiving in recent weeks.
Just last month, Forbes made note of the fact that the Texas Hold’em game was now being advertised on Yahoo’s popular fantasy football games and associated pages.
This is a prime advertising location for reaching young male adults, which suggested to many that the company was hoping to turn the poker game into a revenue stream, or perhaps was even considering real money poker somewhere down the line.
At the moment, though, Yahoo only offers poker in a free-to-play format that is similar to many social games found across the web.
Players could play in games for free, but purchase more chips, cosmetic upgrades and bonus power-ups, like the ability to see a player’s cards after a hand ends, or added information on hand strength and player tendencies. According to Forbes, should a new poker game take the place of Yahoo Poker next year, it would likely have a similar revenue model.
Yahoo Poker is not the only game being dropped by the company at the end of the year. As of December 31, all Yahoo Classic Games are being discontinued, including other popular offerings like Yahoo Pool and Yahoo Bingo. These games and others are likely to be replaced with more modern versions in the future.
While Yahoo has never made any comments suggesting that the company is interested in offering real money gambling in jurisdictions where it is regulated, the heavy marketing push for its existing poker game led to rampant speculation and some excitement in early November. That was mostly driven by the Forbes article, in which Marc Edelman, an associate professor of law at the City University of New York’s Baruch College, suggested it could be a precursor to launching real money play.
“The new Yahoo Texas Hold’em portal could be easily monetized if the legal environment were to become more favorable,” Edelman wrote. “By launching this portal now, Yahoo becomes well positioned to enter the pay-to-win online poker market should states ultimately deem Texas Hold’em to be a legal game of skill.”
That was a rather large logical leap, as Yahoo has never offered real money gambling and many companies are content to offer just play money gaming to their customers. However, it is true that Yahoo does allow players to compete for real money in fantasy sports, which lent some credence to the speculation. And players were certainly excited about the possibility of an Internet giant jumping into the online poker marketplace to compete with the likes of Amaya Gaming.
“Amaya needs a real competitor to keep them in line,” wrote one user on the TwoPlusTwo.com poker forums.