Breaking Down the Action:
  • The Twitter ‘Statement’ in Full
  • Mike McDonald to Focus on NFTs?
  • What is Poker Shares’ Legacy?

5 Minute Read

Mike McDonald and the Poker Shares team have announced that the poker betting site will close in 2022.

Poker Shares has, for five years, been a gauge of both poker odds and players and fans’ thoughts on the value of such prices. As such, it has been invaluable as a source for many poker commentators, observers and media representatives who enjoy the game we all love and the sidebets that ensue when interest in high enough.

From Daniel Negreanu’s famous battle against Doug Polk to the High Stakes Duel battles in which Phil Hellmuth has reigned supreme, Poker Shares has been a fine barometer of form in poker for half a decade. But, as Mike McDonald explained in a statement this week, the site’s time is coming to an end.

The Twitter ‘Statement’ in Full

Mike McDonald, owner of Poker Shares, took to Twitter to announce the news, making the following statement.

“Next week will be 5 years since we’ve launched and unfortunately we’ve decided the time is right to conclude this journey. It has been a rewarding experience to help make the poker staking market more efficient, give fans at home more skin in the game, and allow the community to have a better perspective on how the market tends to rank various players. As time has progressed our team has grown more focussed on other ventures and grown further removed from the ins and outs of top-level poker, as well as found regulatory limitations have limited our ability to continue growing our business effectively. As such, we have decided that beginning in January 2022 we will no longer be adding new markets. We will allow all users to cash out their funds until March 31st 2022. We appreciate your continued support over the years and sincerely hope your favorite player is crowned 2022 WSOP Main Event champion.”

Plenty of poker players and fans chimed in, mostly with supportive and thankful messages for a job well done. Poker staking has been led by sites such as Poker Shares in the past five years, so there was enormous merit in offering the kind of odds on poker matches than many traditional and digital-only bookmakers now provide. They do so on the back of the success of PokerShares among others, and many credited the development that the site has helped to foster.

Mike McDonald to Focus on NFTs?

McDonald, who is often nicknamed the ‘Bank of Timex’ thanks to his success in business investments and poker backing, has been at the forefront of both cryptocurrency and NFT investments for some years, at least according to many on ‘Poker Twitter’.

Whether McDonald focuses on NFTs for the foreseeable is one question, as no-one has any clue how long the digital ownership model will continue or grow (or, ironically, in what shape). But if he fancies sticking to cryptocurrency, it is likely that he will do so with huge success. How much money Poker Shares has made in five years is unknown, but with regulations no longer beneficial, McDonald and the rest of his team have decided that the time is right to end new markets.

These markets will close in March 2022, thanks to no new markets being opened and the current staking possibilities effectively in ‘run-off’ until then in business terms. McDonald’s passion for poker may not be as demonstrably high as it has been in previous years – ‘Timex’ hasn’t cashed in a live ranking event since October 2019 – but it is clear that he remains at the forefront of new-tech investment opportunities.

What is Poker Shares’ Legacy?

Poker Shares wasn’t just a vehicle for Timex to make money, despite having done so. The idea was to give poker fans ‘more skin in the game’ as the Twitter statement said. Over the years, that’s exactly what it has done. While in recent months, the model has been overtaken in online terms by in-site backing tools such as those used by GGPoker during their weekly Super MILLION$ tournament series (below).

GGPoker Super MILLION$

The weekly GGPoker Super MILLION$ tournament series allows punters to back their favorite player to win.

Poker Shares definitely brought betting on poker forward in the past few years, with many using the website as a good barometer of whether bettors backed one player or another. Backing players in online events on PokerStars was successful for a long time and in events such as the heads-up clash between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk where the latter eventually won $1.2m from the former, Poker Shares truly contributed to the entertainment.

Whatever Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald does next, it seems bound to succeed. Buying shares in poker players may have transitioned to being a built-in part of downloading a poker site and signing up as a backer and/or player, but Poker Shares is a little like the first ‘Sat Nav’ system that used to be mounted on the dash rather than being integrated in the car.

It showed us the way to go, and it helped us reach the destination quicker and possibly safer than we would have done without it.

Dave Consolazio

Dave Consolazio has been passionate about writing and sports journalism since his high school years. He has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from USC where he worked with the school's radio and television stations. His work has been featured in SportsbookReview, Sports Illustrated and SB Nation. Dave's experience ranges across multiple fields in the gambling industry. You can find his sports, casino, and poker articles in GambleOnline.co.

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