Chris Welch took over as CEO of PKR in late August this year. A few months on and his feet are firmly under the table so he spoke to Rakeback.com about how he sees PKR and especially its unique 3D graphics based virtual reality style online poker room, PKR.
Chris used to be the Director of Poker at partypoker and before that was the Group Marketing Director for PokerStars. His experience and his new role at PKR have given him a deep and broad perspective of how online poker has changed over the years.
First congratulations on the new job. PKR is surely a very different company from bwin.party, and you’ve got an all new management team, what do you see as your key challenges over the next couple of years?
Thanks for the kind words,yes indeed PKR is different from my prior roles and we do have an exciting new senior team blending youth and experience. Like all online businesses in this space we face many opportunities and threats, clearly we are a business with a DNA in poker one of our key aims is to make PKR a truly multi-product entertainment portal.
Now that you have taken over, will you continue to develop the 2D elements of the software to appeal to higher volume players and multi-tablers?
All players are welcome at PKR but we are not trying to compete with Pokerstars, we have to remain the room for the recreational player and as such focus there rather than driving more interest in a me–too 2D product.
The recent changes at partypoker represent perhaps the strongest reaction to the use of third-party software such a HUDs and seating scripts. What do you think of the trend we are now seeing against these tools and what is the PKR approach going to be?
We are supportive of any moves to make poker a more level playing field, more akin to a real bricks and mortar cardroom, we are looking at ways to do more in this respect. [HM2/PT4 are still supported currently].
We’ve seen the first winners of the Jackpot Poker top prize since you launched the new format in August. How has the game taken off?
Our players love them and we have certainly seen high volumes whether this is incremental it's too early to call but we are happy so far.
You have just announced a changed strategy with the end of the PKR Team Pros. Can you expand on that?
Simply put we have to focus our business in the right areas, we have had pros for years and not really leveraged them and to be frank there was no real business case to investing more in pros, but we wish them well.
What do you personally find so fascinating about the online poker business?
I have been in online gaming on and off for over 13 years and during that time the industry as a whole and poker in particular has gone through many changes. Poker of all the gaming products is the most social and to be frank the most fun.
Players who try PKR poker for the first time, are in for a very different experience to the one offered by PokerStars. Can you succinctly explain the difference, and explain why players should try the PKR experience?
Think of Pokerstars as McDonalds it’s dominant, it’s everywhere, it runs an incredibly slick operation that appeals to many market segments. I’d also argue that its slightly impersonal and for the new player not much fun.
At PKR you can create your own avatar that can move and speak. You can interact with other players like nowhere else, we also have one of the strongest communities in poker where real friendships have been made over the years.
So in burger terms we are a make your own gourmet burger outlet, we will never be McDonalds but have the perfect ingredients to make every visit one you will remember and above all its entertaining which is which is fundamentally part of what makes poker the game it is.
By Joss Wood Rakeback.com Content Manager
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