The online poker world was shaken up earlier this year upon the debut of WPT Global. Within a few short months, player traffic at the site already has it ranking among the leaders in the industry. The company has gone all out to ensure they quickly become a household name, and with excellent welcome offers and deposit promotions, a Summer Festival with over $3.5 million guaranteed — including a $1 million guaranteed event that costs just $1 to enter — and eye-catching commercials featuring some of poker’s biggest stars, like Phil Ivey.
That’s what the poker playing public sees. Behind the scenes, however, what people don’t see is the talented team of professionals making it all happen. That team is led by WPT Global General Manager Alex Scott. A longtime poker industry veteran, Alex brings worlds of experience to his position.
I’ve known Alex for many years now, and he’s even been a past contributor right here at Cardplayer Lifestyle. I couldn’t think of a better person to speak with to learn more about the company that’s been making such big waves. I’m grateful he was open to doing this interview, and for his exceptional openness and authenticity throughout. I have no doubt that whatever high regard you already hold the WPT Global brand in, it’ll be further boosted after you read what Alex has to say.
The internet is littered with online poker rooms. WPT Global is basically the newest kid on the block, having launched in mid-April. What would you say are the “unique selling points” (USPs) that set WPT Global apart from the other more established online poker rooms out there?
AS: Our most important USPs can be expressed in just two words: ‘fun’ and ‘fair’.
‘Fun’ because that has been our main focus when developing the product — our games are much more fun than our competitors’ because of the enormous liquidity pool we share with our partners in Asia, and because of how we limit the number of highly-skilled pros at each table. Everyone has a better chance to win in this environment. Besides this, we’ve built fun features like bomb pots, mandatory straddles, and more to bring drama and action to the games.
‘Fair’ because from the very beginning we have invested enormously in technology and people to make the games as fair as possible. We use deep-learning techniques and other advanced tools to detect collusion, bots and the use of real-time assistance. By eliminating these types of parasitic players from our site, we make the game better for everybody else.
Perhaps understandably, there’s still some confusion out there regarding “what exactly WPT Global is”, as a lot of poker players out there think that it’s the World Poker Tour’s online poker room. Could you please clarify that point?
AS: The World Poker Tour is a hugely popular TV show, broadcast in hundreds of countries worldwide, but for obvious reasons it has only partnered with online gaming operators in a few key markets. We knew there was demand for a high-quality poker experience in many other parts of the world. We developed WPT Global as a way of giving players in over 50 countries the chance to play poker with a brand that they trust.
We licence the WPT brand and are a separate company to the WPT, but we are very close with our friends there and we take our responsibilities to the WPT brand very seriously.
We are the first new online poker room to launch internationally in years, and with the WPT brand behind us we believe we have an excellent chance to grow, and bring our offering to players all over the world.
READ MORE: WPT Global Room Review
Launching a new online poker room takes a massive amount of effort behind the scenes. WPT Global is only about four months old, but I’m hoping you could clue us in to the activity at company headquarters prior to launch. When were you brought on board to begin steering the ship? Plus, it takes a village to run an online poker room, and that’s a team you were instrumental in putting together. Can you describe that process for us and approximately how many employees/departments there are in the company?
AS: I joined WPT Global in early April, about two weeks before we launched. Prior to that, lots of people in the company had been eagerly working away to prepare — integrating with payment processors, preparing marketing plans, getting us licenced to operate, working with our technology partner to refine the software, and more.
As a startup, one of our crucial challenges is growing the team so we can scale up. Thankfully, we have the WPT brand behind us, and all of our staff work remotely, meaning we can hire the most talented people, wherever they are in the world. We’ve grown all of our teams significantly in the past few months and I expect to continue growing at a fast pace in the future.
The team behind WPT Global has a combined decades of experience in the online gaming industry. Players just see the brand name, and of course that’s plenty trustworthy, but could you please give us an idea of the types of experience you and your team have that further give WPT Global that well-deserved credibility as an online poker room?
AS: In my leadership team we have decades of experience in senior online gaming roles.
Often we have been frustrated in the past, as we’ve had big ideas, but very limited resources to achieve them. Well, now we have big ideas, and everything we need to make them happen, which is very exciting!
Our technology was built by a different company, whose staff have hundreds of years of combined experience in the gaming business as well as expertise in AI, machine learning, and big data analytics.
Game integrity is a very hot topic these days in the online poker realm, and for good reason. What procedures and processes does WPT Global have in place to ensure game integrity and that players funds are safe and secure?
AS: All of our player funds are segregated and protected at all times, and we cannot touch that money for operational reasons. This is very important to me, as anyone who has followed my work in the past will know. We intend to protect player funds far in excess of what the regulator requires, and we will be continually upping our game in this respect.
Game Integrity is a different matter. We did extensive due diligence when we chose our technology supplier, and chose a partner that had very advanced data and tech for preventing collusion, the use of bots, and RTA, and had already proven that technology at scale with a large network. We have built a team of poker experts to use those tools to keep our games as fair as possible, and given our past experience in the industry, we’re extremely confident that we have the leading all-round solution for Game Integrity.
It seems like WPT Global has very actively embraced the world of NFTs, fully integrating it into your promotional and marketing activity to increase player engagement. Can you talk about this for a bit, and explain why this is an approach/field the company has set its sights on from the get-go?
AS: We know that there is a lot of crossover between the crypto community and the poker community, and it’s our job to make it as easy as possible for people to use their crypto assets with us.
I’m very excited about our NFTs — they are totally different, and far from just a token on a chain. Our NFTs carry real value, as they will give their owners access to special features and promotions that are exclusive to NFT holders. We also have ideas about how the NFTs can be used to authenticate a person’s real identity, to improve trust in the games across multiple operators, but these are a little further down the road.
Let’s talk for a moment about payment methods. Beyond more traditional deposit/withdrawal options – such as wire transfer, Visa, and Skrill – WPT Global has also embraced some newer ones, like cryptocurrency. Could you give us the lowdown, as well as what other payment methods you’re looking to add in the future?
AS: Our goal is pretty simple: we want to make it as easy as possible for you to deposit and withdraw your money, in every market where we offer our product. To do that, we have to dramatically improve the cashier experience, and offer all of the deposit methods that you would expect to see in your country. Crypto was an obvious choice, given the overlap between the poker and crypto communities, as I mentioned earlier, and we have lots of ideas about how we can make crypto easier to use for deposits and withdrawals.
WPT Global offers players both cash games and tournaments, specifically the poker variants of No Limit Hold’em and Short Deck (6+ Hold’em). Here at Cardplayer Lifestyle, we’re big proponents of Mixed Games. Are there plans to add any other poker variants in the near future?
AS: Yes, but we’re keeping these under our hat for now. One of our key objectives when launching any new game is to be able to keep that game fair and secure, as we do with the existing games. As much as I personally love mixed games, just as you do, we won’t ever compromise integrity to spread more variants.
While many players are delighted to have opened accounts on WPT Global (many using our bonus code CPL), there are perhaps even more out there who are disappointed that they’re unfortunately not able to do so and play due to where in the world they happen to live. Please tell us a bit about WPT Global’s licensing, and which countries/jurisdictions you hope to soon add to your worldwide player pool?
AS: We launched with a Curaçao licence, as it was our best route to market, giving us everything we needed to launch quickly. In future, it’s likely that we’ll acquire more licences so that we can bring our unique offering to as many players as possible. Regardless of the licence we have, we will always operate to a far higher standard than the regulator requires.
With a great team in place, unique selling points, a strong marketing push, a brand familiar to everyone in the poker world, and lots of promotions in the offing for both new and existing players, WPT Global is poised for strong growth right out of the gates, to grab a nice initial share of the online poker market. What would you say the company’s targets are for Year 1, and to what degree you hope to be established in the online poker world by mid-April next year?
AS: We are probably the only poker startup ever not to have a liquidity target, specifically because we already have a massive pool of players thanks to our Asian partnership. So we are not building liquidity at any cost, as you might expect. I care about different things.
I care about awareness — do players know that WPT Global exists? By the end of this year – everyone in the poker community should know our name. If they don’t, we have really messed up!
I care about making our business sustainable. Do players have a good experience, are the games genuinely beatable? Are the games as safe and secure as we’ve promised?
I care about our people. Are we hiring and keeping the best staff? Are our employees learning all the time, seizing their potential, getting better every day? Are they motivated and happy in their jobs?
I care about the player experience. Are we offering amazing customer service? Can players qualify for their dream events with us? After they try us out, do players stick with us, or do they go back to playing elsewhere?
Our business targets all follow from these higher level aspirations. Of course we want to make money, but we know we won’t do that if we don’t get these basic things right.