Ultimate Poker Future Unclear After New Jersey Exit

September 29th, 2014 | by Greg Shaun
Jason Somerville leaves Ultimate Poker

Ultimate Poker has cut ties with several high-profile employees, as well as sponsored pro Jason Somerville. (Image: pokerlistings.com)

Ultimate Poker is now facing questions about its future, following an exit from the New Jersey online poker market last week. While the company still operates a fairly successful site in Nevada, recent departures from the company have many industry experts speculating about the future of Ultimate Poker and its parent company, Ultimate Gaming.

With Ultimate Poker giving up on New Jersey, the larger of the two markets in which online operator was licensed, it was understood that the company would almost certainly reduce its staff as a result. However, few expected that so many prominent names would be removed from the company, including several who were important to poker operations in Nevada as well as in New Jersey.

Executives, Sponsored Pro Among Cuts

According to a report from Pokerfuse, “nearly the entire poker operations team” has parted ways with Ultimate Poker, including many “key personnel in marketing and poker operations.” These departures include several notable names that were based in Nevada, such as Chief Marketing Officer Todd Kobrin and Director of Poker Operations Scott Yeats. Poker Product Manager Chris Danek was also among those who were reportedly cut from the staff.

There are other signs of cutbacks at Ultimate Poker as well. One of the company’s most prominent sponsored pros, Jason Somerville, announced on Sunday that he was no longer under contract with the company. While the breakup appeared amicable, Somerville said that it was predicated by the financial situation for Ultimate following their exit from new Jersey.

“I’m not a cheap date,” Somerville said during a Sunday live streaming version of his “Run It Up” web series. “I didn’t want to take…whatever, so we have to do what we had to do.”

Speculation Mounts Over Future

These moves have led to heavy speculation over the future of Ultimate Poker. While the exit from New Jersey was ostensibly a result of the Trump Taj Mahal’s bankruptcy, a similar situation occurred with Betfair, and that company managed to stick around in New Jersey, at least for the time being. This suggests that perhaps Ultimate Gaming was considering a withdrawal from the state for its own reasons, or at least that it wasn’t committed to staying in the market.

That would be understandable, as Ultimate never found much success there. While the Ultimate Gaming casino brought in some revenue, it still lagged behind its competitors. Meanwhile, Ultimate Poker was the lowest-performing online poker room in New Jersey, with the site sometimes struggling to run cash games at any stakes. This seemed to be due to a lack of support from Trump Taj Mahal, as well as software that was seen as inferior to that of competitors.

Committed to Nevada

Ultimate Poker has fared better in Nevada, where being first to the market gave it a significant advantage. And while some have speculated that the reduced staff for Ultimate could be a precursor to a shutdown or a merger with another company, the company says that it’s committed to providing a quality product in the state.

“Ultimate Gaming will continue to focus on improving its online poker product and overall customer experience in Nevada,” Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling told Pokerfuse. “We will also continue to conduct live events at Station Casinos and Peppermill properties.”


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