Since Black Friday hit in April, online players have been looking to fill the void. Some have gone as far as to move abroad to countries that allow online poker, but many have just stopped playing online altogether. One local company is doing its best to fill the gap.
About 18 months ago Hog Wild Poker started offering players the opportunity to set up and control an online poker league. The best part: It’s free.
Hog Wild CEO Jeff Amrien said his company started out of a need for something that didn’t exist.
“I’ve done several companies where I’ve developed a product and sold it,” Amrien said. “I play a lot of poker and I travel a lot. I thought, ‘There’s got to be a tool kit we can put on our site and play poker.’ ”
What Amrien found was a lot of high-priced poker software that was geared toward gambling, not the recreational poker player. So what do you do when you can’t find the software you want? You build it yourself.
“We can write a poker site. It took three years to do it,” Amrien said. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to write this site that anyone can get on and create their own league?’ That’s how the concept started.”
The site is designed to have the feel of a home game. Players can create leagues and set their rules. One thing the site includes is a wagering system were players use tokens to place “bets” for high hands and/or bounties. In addition, players have to concentrate and not give off tells because their cards are face down until they flip them up. Other players can see this.
“The biggest thing right now is the kind of a feeling you get when you play,” Amrien said. “It’s a combination of things. It’s the cards face down, seeing other people look at their cards. It’s the chat.”
All of these things are designed to give the player a more familiar feel than they would get at other sites.
“The action of the prop bets, the action of the cards, people commenting on hands. It’s very close to your home game. You don’t know people at other sites. You start to recognize other people.”
Since its creation, Hog Wild has developed quite a following. With thousands of players across the country and even in other countries, the site continues to grow with new features being planned, including new game types and options. The site recently started offering freerolls where players can win real money.
Part of their following has developed a radio show. The guys at the Pig Sty radio show follow the Wednesday night $200 freeroll giving players the opportunity to shine.
Hosted by Brian “MotheMan” Elmore and Travis “Coach Travis” Nichols, the Pig Sty was built with Hog Wild poker in mind.
“I cut my teeth on Geeks on Poker and Poker Knight Radio,” Elmore said. “We were going to do a public access cable show together. Instead, we decided to do a radio show with Hog Wild poker so we had a built-in audience.”
Nichols reiterates the overall home-game feel of Hog Wild as the way they designed their show.
“We offer the environment of a home game,” Nichols said. “We talk about anything from entertainment, to sports to poker. We add that home element.”
You can follow along with the action at thepigstyradio.com.
— Don Lawson is the Ante Up Ambassador for Kentuckiana. He’s a part-time journalist and avid poker player. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.