It’s been a few months since I’ve posted a blog here. Sorry for that, but I have two very good reasons. First, I’ve been preparing for the arrival of my first human child, and so I’ve spent my spare time building nursery furniture, spending huge sums of money on baby paraphernalia, and eating for two.
Secondly, I’ve been working for the last 6 months on a, ahem, ‘refocusing’ of staff in poker.
In the last couple of years, Microgaming’s poker performance has been exceptional. We’re in our second consecutive year of double-digit growth, and we now operate the largest B2B poker network in the world (as I write, we’re trading places regularly with the second largest, although not for much longer). Seriously, our finance team had to get new super-widescreen monitors just to fit the numbers in. The wider company is doing well too. Our Isle of Man office has almost twice as many employees as when I started in 2013, and we’re growing so fast we’re building a second office next door, joined to our existing one with a sky bridge. Yes, that’s right – a sky bridge. If we ever need to move on, we could sell the building to Dr. Evil, or maybe build a water slide to a third building across the street.
But we knew we could do better. Our pipeline has been so full that it’s taken us longer than we would like to launch new customers. So early this year, we set out to change the way that we worked and address these challenges.
Poker is now part of a dedicated ‘Network Games’ business unit. The new unit is designed to be self-sufficient and act more like a start up, quick to respond to market demands. We are responsible for our own destiny, while still having the economies of scale that the 2,500+ person Microgaming group brings.
The management team we have heading up Network Games is exceptionally strong, tough and good looking. My new boss – the Director of Network Games, Jean Luc Ferriere – and I have spent almost our entire working lives in the eGaming industry – Jean Luc for 17 years, myself for 11.
Joining the leadership team are Head of Operations Andy Booth; who has been looking after some of Microgaming’s most important customers for the last 4 years, and Head of Commercial Rupert Dix; a fully qualified chartered accountant who will be managing the unit’s finances. Between the four of us, that’s a combined 34 years of eGaming experience, and the world’s finest genetic material, all heading up one business unit.
But what does this really mean for poker?
Well, the news is hugely positive. Our customers (that’s poker rooms, not players) will get better service from the dedicated team that Andy is leading. I’m confident that the experience our poker rooms will receive will be better than ever, so I can take a step back from this area and focus on what I’m best at.
Players will benefit too though. I have taken a giant leap sideways into the ‘Head of Product’ position in our unit. I will remain responsible for poker operations, supported by our excellent Poker Room Manager and Poker Integrity Team. It’s still my job to ensure the best player experience possible, and we’ve made big improvements over the past couple of years, with more to come (look out for our brand new MTT schedule, coming soon!)
A major change is that the poker development team now reports directly to me. I’m really excited about this new aspect of my role, which will allow me to meddle get closely involved in the development of our product as we rebuild it in modern technologies, ready for the next generation of poker players. As an IT graduate with a huge passion for the game, this is the job I’ve wanted to do since I stopped chasing the dream of being a semi-pro poker player / mixed martial artist / Instagram model.
There are other exciting changes too. We now have our own dedicated project management team, and Clodagh Hansen (star of Dara O’Kearney’s delightful blog – thanks Dara) will be getting more support to take the MPN Poker Tour to the next level. But perhaps most excitingly, we have a new Insights team, which will use big data to challenge and constructively disrupt everything the Network Games unit does. This team is already doing very exciting things with Fish Party, our unique progressive jackpot SNG.
All in all, poker will have more people, more expertise, more sweat and more tears dedicated to it than ever before. I think I can speak for all of Network Games when I say that we’re extremely excited about where poker is headed in the next few years, and we’re really looking forward to reaching the pinnacle of the industry, alongside Mr West and maybe Mr Galfond.
Stay tuned for more news after I return tired, dishevelled and confused from paternity leave, when I will talk about changes we’re making to MTT fees, tweaks to Fish Party, why casino operators are wrong to marginalise poker, and my new gym routine (not really). See you in a few weeks!
Alex Scott is Head of Product (Network Games) at Microgaming, which operates the MPN and Indian Poker Network, and provides poker services to Adjarabet.
Any opinions contained in this blog are the personal views of the author only, and not of any other person or organisation.