New social gaming startup IveyPoker.com recently signed high stakes poker hobbyist Daniel Shak to its team of online poker pros. Shak joins a lineup of poker gurus that the site’s founder, Phil Ivey, has assembled to help teach the world to play poker "the right way."
Although Shak has raked in over $4 million in winnings throughout his poker career, he still insists that it is far from a career for him. "I have always insisted that poker is a hobby for me and have consistently turned down any business offers related to it. But when Phil asked me if I wanted to join Team Ivey, I was more than prepared to make an exception. Phil is not only a good friend, but also the best poker player in the world, if you ask me."
Shak and Ivey have been friends for years, but it’s clear that Shak isn’t the only one who appreciates Ivey’s poker prowess. Considered by many to be the world’s best poker player, Ivey has won eight World Series of Poker bracelets and more than $17 million in live poker earnings throughout his career. While Shak’s record may not compete with that of Ivey’s, he has secured his own bragging rights: he managed to beat Ivey heads up in the 2010 Aussie Millions Poker Championship $100,000 Event - taking home a whopping $1,107,533. Ever humble, Shak downplayed the victory: "Obviously he's the best player in the world by a mile, but on any given day anyone can win."
With the launch of Ivey Poker, truly anyone can win - and they’ll have seasoned pros like Shak and Ivey to coach them along the way. "I want to teach the world how to play better poker," Ivey told ESPN Playbook. "I feel like there’s a big hole in the poker community. I speak with people all the time about poker, and people say they’d love to learn how to play but they don’t know where to start. It’d be nice to teach people how to play the correct way."
Ivey Poker's incorporation of "community" into its digital platform places it within the booming social gaming industry. As technology continues to dominate today’s society, online users are demanding a more personalized, social experience - and the numbers back it up.
According to Facebook statistics, there are more than 500 million active Facebook users. These users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. This has no doubt influenced the current wave of amateur poker players who crave a more social gaming experience, as evidenced by Facebook users’ eager adoption of games like Zynga's Texas Hold’em. According to AppData, this includes over 37,860,000 Facebook users. This points to a growing group of poker hobbyists that not only want to play poker - they want to play on a truly interactive platform.
Ivey Poker will add an educational layer to this trend, allowing users to not only compete and socialize, but to sharpen their skills in the process. "It is an honor to be part of this team and everything that it represents," says Shak. "I’m passionate about the educational aspect of poker and I feel that I may have something useful to give back to the community.