Ultimate Poker’s Software Patch: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Since staking its claim as the first provider to offer online poker in Nevada’s newly-minted regulated market, Ultimate Poker has taken its fair share of slack. For those accustomed to playing on pre-Black Friday sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, UP’s initial roll-out came across as shoddy and second rate, lacking many of the baseline features players from the states had come to expect. In turn, as more established operators began filtering their way into the states, Ultimate’s traffic would “ultimately” suffer. And now, more than one year after online poker went live in the Silver State, Ultimate’s attempt at a poker client is still lacking in several key areas. A recent software patch addresses a few of its more glaring issues, while creating a new (albeit temporary) one of its own. But is the patch enough to reignite UP rivalry with Nevada front-runner WSOP.com? Ultimate Poker patch addresses several key deficiencies The most notable (and least visible) change comes in the way of more accurate location verification. As evidenced on its dedicated thread on Two Plus Two, UP’s faithful have experienced their fair share of disconnects. And while Director of Player Operations Terrence Chan and his “Aces” have taken a very personalized, hands-on approach to customer care, in many cases there was simply not much they could do beyond ensuring that players were taking the necessary steps to be geolocated. Those who followed all the rules and still couldn’t connect were, as they say, SOL. It’s unlikely that a single patch will provide a blanket solution to the geolocation issues that plague UP – and all state regulated sites for that matter – but at least it offers the prospect of hope. And that’s something the regulated market sorely needs. Also introduced via the software patch are wait lists. A feature that has existed on most credible sites since Windows XP was all the rage, wait lists are a much-needed change that could facilitate the growth of UP’s dwindling cash-game traffic. Side note: Of the recent changes to UP’s Nevada client, wait lists are the only major feature that have yet to go live in New Jersey. Auto top-up/reload was also added. As implied by the name, this feature will allow grinders to start each hand at a minimum preordained threshold, regardless of whether they fall below it or not during the previous hand. Furthermore, the lobby now boasts an Omaha tab. Unfortunately, players still must use workarounds to readily find PLO/O8 SNGs, as the Omaha tab only lists cash-games. Lastly, the software allows players the option to save their names and passwords. With the new patch comes a celebratory $100 reload match bonus. The offer is available until May 9th, so act quickly. The full patch notes can be found here. Geolocation error message resolved As is the case with most software updates, UP’s patch did not go off without a snag. Players who logged in would be unceremoniously treated to a banner informing them that their location could not be verified – even though it likely was. Chan suggested to players encountering this error to “try sitting at a table.” But for those who didn’t bother to read the patch notes, they would have little way of knowing that the error was in fact a small error, and not a glaring geolocation disaster. Luckily, the issue has since been resolved. Players that are still having trouble are encouraged to contact UP via live chat. Is Ulitmate’s patch too little, too late? The fact that it’s taken over one year for Ultimate Poker to introduce what the majority of the poker community considers to be standard features is a bit disjointing. Chan admits himself that there is still a ton of work to be done including: “time bank, synch break, notes, showing rebuys in the the lobby, deal speed, turn off animations/avatars, hand history replayer” etc. That wouldn’t be so bad if sites like WSOP.com were not already sporting many, if not all, of these features since launch. Which begs the question, “Why did Ultimate release a half-baked poker product in the first place?” My guess was so it could reap the rewards of being first in the market – a strategy that may have paid dividends last April, but is suffocating the team now. However, should Ultimate’s software at least get on par with WSOP’s by late-summer, it will position itself nicely for the fall season. By then, the current hype associated with the most recognized four letters in poker will have died down (outside of a few days in mid-autumn). With improved software and the same exemplary levels of customer care that Chan and his team have provided since day one, Ultimate might make another run for Nevada’s top spot. But Ultimate, do hurry up. Poker players are not always the patient type.

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