Chan: Ultimate Poker on Front Line of New Poker Boom

Terrence Chan
Terrence Chan is part of Ultimate Poker, the first regulated real-money online poker site in the US.

The first hands of regulated online poker in the US were dealt this week in Nevada and, according to Terrence Chan, it's the first step towards a brand-new poker boom.

Chan, a long-time poker pro who helped launch PokerStars more than a decade ago, recently joined Ultimate Poker, the first site to offer government-endorsed real money online poker in the States.

“I haven't seen any indication at all that Black Friday is an issue for players,” Chan told

“I think we're coming out of the darkness and into the light.”

Chan, whose MMA career and poker story were featured in the latest episode of our short documentary series Easy Game, is doing everything from answering customer emails and verifying accounts to improving software and developing a rewards program.

And even though he was swamped with the UP launch he took a few minutes to give us an inside look at the Ultimate Poker setup. Having a background in the industry, as well as playing professionally for so long, is it particularly special for you to be involved in the first regulated online poker in the US?

Terrence Chan: It's incredibly exciting.

Antonio Esfandiari
Antonio Esfandiari has also signed on with Ultimate Poker.

I was there for the early days of unregulated online poker working in Costa Rica, and now it's come full circle to the point where I'm right here in Las Vegas, the home of gaming. It's pretty cool

PL: What's the excitement level like in the Nevada poker community and across the US?

TC: We've gotten an even bigger response than we've expected. By a lot.

People are super excited to be here, and we've had tons of folks from other states and Europe/Australia/Asia saying that they're excited to come to Vegas this summer and play online

PL: Tell us a bit about your role at UP since joining them roughly two months ago.

TC: Currently I'm doing everything there is to do. Nothing is "below me" right now.

I've spent most of my morning handling e-mails with people trying to get their ID verified. I obviously have a lot of input into how to improve the product (poker software).

Not to mention things like the VIP program, what limits to offer, what promotions to run, that sort of thing.

One of the cool things about working for a startup is that everyone has to do a little of everything

PL: What is UP focusing on and what can future users expect from the company should it expand beyond Nevada?

TC: We're going to work really hard to provide the best possible product.

It's natural for us to be compared to some of the sites that have been around a really long time and have a more mature product, but we're planning to offer a totally safe and regulated environment for people to play in, and we think they'll gravitate towards that.

Terrence Chan
"I think a lot of it, honestly, is bringing back that trust."

Other than that it's just a matter of continuous improvement - our CEO said yesterday in our internal all-hands-on-deck meeting that we're not perfect, we're not close to perfect, but we have to strive for perfection

PL: On a bigger scale, what do you see as the biggest obstacles in the way of getting the US online poker industry back to what we saw in the boom years?

TC: I think a lot of it, honestly, is bringing back that trust.

Obviously the online poker industry has been rocked by its share of scandals over the last few years and so when Joe Public hears about this kind of thing, they have serious reservations about playing online poker.

We're hoping that by being forced to conform to really stringent regulation that people will realize that you can trust your money with us and trust that you'll get a fair game

I'm really bad at making predictions with respect to the overall size of the market but I don't think there's any reason we can't return to the peaks of the boom years.

I think legal online poker is a renaissance for poker and hopefully this is a brand new poker boom entirely.

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