On Thursday, word broke across the online poker industry that SpadeClub, a subscription-based room that welcomes action from the United States, had ceased operations. Players are now asked to sign up for CardPlayer Poker on the ZEN Entertainment Network.
Text found on SpadeClub’s website explains, “Going forward, all SpadeClub members are being offered a chance to participate in the transition to the ZEN Entertainment Network. ZEN’s VIP program will honor all time already purchased by SpadeClub members. Basic members can continue to play for free as well.” ZEN offers over $100,000 in cash and prizes every month. The company is headquartered in Las Vegas and provides gaming for the National League of Poker (NLOP), Poker Para Ti, Motor Sports Poker, the UFC, and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Players who want to make the transition to the ZEN Entertainment Network can log in using their screen name and password on the SpadeClub website and those who wish to cash out their balances will be able to do so for the next 30 days. The short letter on SpadeClub’s website concludes, “We would like to thank you for your loyalty and participation within the SpadeClub community. Good luck and enjoy the ZEN Entertainment Network.”
ZEN acquired the rights to Royal Hold’em and No River Hold’em in 2007 and became involved with NLOP one year later. In 2009, it launched UFCPoker.com and officially unleashed the ZEN Entertainment Network earlier this year. Lifestyle and real estate entrepreneur Vincent Zaldivar is the company’s CEO, while Patrick McEntee is its COO. In addition to its headquarters in the Nevada desert, ZEN has offices in Boston, Palo Alto, the Ukraine, and India.
SpadeClub subscriptions ran $20 per month and on the TwoPlusTwo forums, speculation ran rampant as to what happened to the company, which was promoted heavily during CardPlayer Magazine Editor Jeff Shulman’s deep run in the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. In that tournament, Shulman donned SpadeClub logos throughout and ultimately bowed out in fifth place for $1.9 million.
One poster on TwoPlusTwo asserted, “In 2009, around 32,000 players earned SPOY points, which required making a final table or close to it in the larger payout tourneys. I’m sure the total signups were closer to 200,000 for a free membership. The problem was that their conversion rate was horrible.”
The same poster also expressed his disappointment with the seemingly abrupt end to SpadeClub by its parent company, CardPlayer: “The way he shut the doors, without warning, and forced players to play on that horrid, NLOP software was despicable. Making matter worse, as long as players (albeit I doubt very few) pay to play at that miserable site, he’s going to be making money as an affiliate.”
SpadeClub Players who already have a ZEN Network account are asked to e-mail [email protected] for assistance. Shulman told Poker News Daily on Thursday, “We just couldn’t make it work from a financial standpoint. We were getting close to having a breakeven month for the first time about a year ago and then we started having processing problems that we couldn’t overcome. Even though SpadeClub is out of business, we had a community of loyal poker players and wanted them to have a place where they could continue playing with the friends that they made. Zen Entertainment has a great community and was the best fit for our players.”
In addition to making the final table in 2009, Shulman took seventh in the 2000 WSOP Main Event for $146,000. He also recorded a 31st place finish in 2003 for $35,000 and owns over $2.2 million in career WSOP earnings. His father Barry Shulman, CardPlayer’s CEO, is the reigning WSOP Europe Main Event champion after outlasting PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu last year. The elder Shulman raked in £801,000 for the win in what was an impressive year for the Las Vegas magazine owners.
At the time of writing, CardPlayer had not yet released any information about the transition and no feature article was published on its site about SpadeClub.