Interview With Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO at EvenBet Gaming
CasinosHunter has organized an interesting and detailed Q&A with Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO at EvenBet Gaming. EvenBet Gaming is a well-known online casino software provider that creates high quality table games. Find out more about EvenBet Gaming software products and other perks for gamblers online.
About EvenBet Gaming
EvenBet Gaming has been around since 2004, and the company has always been working in the niche of online poker, even “before it became a mainstream”, so to say. Although it has not become a mainstream still, because poker and other table games are harder to make, in a way.
The company has acquired impressive experience, not only in making games as such, but also in exploring different markets and technologies, and also in researching player preferences. This outstanding experience allows EvenBet to offer its products on numerous platforms literally around the world, in Europe, both Americas, and Asia.
The company is behind more than one brand, both online casino and sports betting ones. Moreover, the company holds numerous awards in the niche, starting from year 2017:
- 2017 — the Best DFS Product Award from SBC Awards;
- 2018 — the Russian Sports Betting Award from Login Casino Awards;
- 2018 — Best Poker Software, Best Poker Network, Best Fantasy Sports Supplier from EGR B2B Awards;
- 2020 — Poker Software Supplier of the Year Award and Mobile Supplier of the Year Award from EGR B2B Awards.
In 2012, long before other studios started doing that, EvenBet started releasing mobile versions of their poker games. In 2013, this company allowed Bitcoin betting using blockchain technology, which has immediately boosted its position in the niche. In 2020, EvenBet received the international online gambling license by the MGA, proving its trustworthiness and reliability as a provider.
Q/A Session With Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO
Hello and thank you for finding time to answer our questions for the CasinosHunter platform! Could you please begin with introducing yourself for our readers, and tell more about your role in the company?
I am Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO at EvenBet Gaming. I’ve been the leader of the company since its foundation in 2001, as we were growing from a small three-person IT start-up to a worldwide known online poker software developer.
EvenBet Gaming is a leader in poker games, and this already makes it stand out among the majority of online casino software providers that focus mainly on slot games. But what other values, or features, make EvenBet different from its competitors in the industry?
Online poker development is a niche in the iGaming business since it requires a different skillset from a company than slots and other games of pure chance creation.
Poker is based on mathematics and social interaction within a game, so it takes significantly more time to create its backend and engine.
While slots developers focus on design and visual effects, we have to constantly improve the game mechanics. That requires a solid development team – at the moment, we have over 70 purely technical specialists in-house. And we are growing.
If compared to other poker software vendors, we aim for the highest quality of service and to be present in different markets. We have offices and representatives in Asia, Europe, and South America, and customer support is working 24/7 to help each of the active projects launched on our platform.
At the moment, we have around a hundred online poker websites and integrations up and running, and quite a number in development.
Therefore, our customers and their players can be sure that all their issues are solved as soon as possible.
Can you please tell us more about players’ preferences in online poker those days? What are the most popular poker games so far?
The classic Texas Hold’em is and has always been the eternal leader, the most well-known poker version with two pocket and five common cards and straightforward interaction between players.
It is a strong preference that becomes a choice for almost every poker tournament. Yet, there are also very successful variations of Hold’em that have gained their share of the audience, for example, Short Deck (Six Plus) Hold’em that is played with a deck from 6 to A. It is generally faster and provides more chances to have high-value hands: straights, flushes, full houses, and so on. It became trendy around three years ago.
However, some players suppose that at Hold'em cash tables, there is too much competition and too many sharks hunting for easy money. They choose less popular but still exciting online poker types, especially Omaha.
One of the recent trends in poker game development involves adding more elements of chance to the game, which makes it less predictable and more exciting.
Many experiments in the area failed, but among those that stayed and got the players’ attention are Rapid poker (when a player folds, he is randomly seated at another table), Spin and Go (fast tournaments with a prize increased by a random number after a spin), and some others. These types of games are highly appreciated by casual players.
Finally, there are local differences in the markets and poker variations specific to various regions. For example, Turkish poker.
How many games does the company release per month, or per year?
At the beginning of 2022, we already had 36 cash game types on our platform. In 2021, we’ve added four, and in 2020, only two. During the first year of the global pandemic, we were slammed by launching new projects as it has marked the global resurgence of poker that was stagnating for several years.
How much time is needed to develop a new game, from idea to release?
Several months depending on the complexity of the game itself. We need to analyze the market, study the game mathematics and mechanics, turn it into a code, sometimes change some design concepts, and test it all through.
As every poker game is based on virtual deck shuffle and random cards distribution, not to mention the intricate player interaction rules, it suggests more complicated development tasks than games of pure chance.
When we started working on our first online poker project 20 years ago, we were sure that it was easy to complete in a few months. We were so naive! It took us about two years to create a simple poker application.
Providers that make slot games mostly achieve variety, and keep their players interested in new games, by inventing new designs and new features. Obviously you cannot invent much of a new design for classic poker games, can you? What do you do to keep the players interested in games, and anticipate new releases?
The design of the existing poker games can be changed as often as a poker room wants, though there are always the elements that must be present: the table, the cards, a lobby for the players to search for a game, and so on. Yet, if you look at the modern poker rooms, you will see the unbelievable variety of differently designed interfaces. But the role of design in player engagement is relatively low. People do not come to the poker table because they like the design or the animation: they want to play an exciting game with live opponents. It is the people, the audience that makes online poker exciting in the first place, so it is the main operator’s challenge to acquire and retain the right traffic.
Of course, developers also make a lot of effort to provide an engaging user experience. The specifics of this in poker are based on two factors: it is a social game, and it is a game of skill that has its learning curve.
From the moment of player registration, we have to provide them with an experience compelling enough to stay in a game and improve their skill. We include numerous player-to-player interaction elements into a game: chats, emojis, quick reactions, notes, video streaming. We create new promotional mechanics for the operators to offer various types of bonuses, missions, and quests, create leaderboards, and set up a nearly unlimited number of different tournaments.
What online gambling trends do you notice today that are likely to stay in the industry? What trends, in their turn, slowly disappear?
The main trend observed across the iGaming market is a quick shift from desktop to mobile devices for playing casino games and making bets. Poker is no difference: in relatively conservative Europe, more than 50% of users play on mobile devices, and in South America and Asia, their share may reach over 90%. It leads to new design and game development approaches; for example, in 2021, our company has spent months redesigning our mobile applications to follow the increasing users’ demands.
Then, there’s a relatively new trend in the skill-based games niche: creating multi-game platforms that include online poker and other card games of skill like rummy in India, fantasy sports, chess, backgammon, etc. It is a big thing in emerging markets, especially in Asia, but we expect it to spread all over the world. It reflects the players’ expectations to have different forms of online entertainment available with a single app or a website. On our platform, some other games of skill are already available: rummy, Call Break, backgammon. And most probably, we’ll add new ones over time.
Finally, many experts consider that online gaming in Metaverse will be the next big thing. For online poker, as a player-to-player game, this could be an enormous opportunity but for the moment, the colossal investments into the technology and the costs of VR sets limit the possible growth.
Once in a while, there are talks about the upcoming crypto boom in online poker, but honestly, I don’t see any reason for this to happen: the crypto tech penetration is still low, so it stays a niche.
Can you share some plans for the future for EvenBet? Maybe we can expect new games released soon?
Yes, we plan to announce a couple of new card games launched on our platform this spring. But the main news to come soon will be the final release of the new native mobile poker applications that we’ve been recreating for the last eight months. We've completely reworked the user interface to make searching for games, playing in multi-table mode easier, improving player skills, and getting bonuses from operators easier.
We are also launching at least three big poker projects this spring (sorry, but I can’t yet tell the names), so there will be a lot more quality online poker in the world.
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