The birth of Casino Rush

Today we are launching worldwide Casino Rush by PokerStars, a fast play poker casino game available on iOS and Android. Casino Rush is a new, unique game for the modern gamer - a mobile app enthusiast with limited time looking for an adrenaline rush. It is the best of poker, casino and slots all fused into one great game - for those who enjoy playing poker or casino games, and those totally new to both.

While I hope you try the game, I thought it would be interesting to explain how the product came into existence.

About four years ago, PokerStars launched a team to penetrate the social (free-to-play) casino market. This initiative was a way to extend our business and expose our poker expertise to hundreds of millions of people who were playing Zynga Poker and other Facebook poker games.

It wasn't as easy as everyone had hoped. While nobody knows poker like PokerStars, we did not have the expertise in social that Zynga and the other companies focused on the space had. While PokerStars made progress in the space, it didn't match the success the company experienced in real money poker.

About a year and a half ago, PokerStars brought me in from Zynga to accelerate its growth in social poker. I came in determined to make us a major player in social poker. We started by making some great changes to the mobile versions of Jackpot Poker, taking the most popular poker format from real money (Spin & Gos) and using it as the focal point of the app. We also talked to our players and made a host of improvements that have made Jackpot Poker one of the fastest growing poker apps.

A funny thing happened, however, to my plans. During an early strategy session with my team, we looked at the social poker market, what we were offering, what our competitors were offering and where the best opportunities for PokerStars were.

Much to my surprise, we realized the biggest opportunity was not competing with the Zyngas of the world but expanding the poker universe. Poker is a fantastic game but it is several hundred years old and wasn't exactly built for mobile devices, which is where most gamers are today. That said, we felt if you could take what makes poker great and put it in a wrapper that works for the gamer in 2016, we could successfully compete with anyone for today's gamers (and still create a better social app for the existing poker player).

We needed to remake poker for the Clash of Clans and Candy Crush players. To expand the market for poker, we had to remove some of the complexity that intimidates people who have not played poker before, we needed to change the mechanics so players could have a fast game session, and we needed to allow players to play in a single player environment when they weren't connected to the Internet. Lastly, we needed to build something that would offer players' a true emotional thrill ride filled with adrenaline-pumping, sweat-inducing moments.

As if by magic, a few weeks after the strategy session, a couple of very talented game designers, the founders of Seven Deuces Games, approached me with a game design idea completely in tune with what we identified as a market need. Moreover, our real money casino colleagues wanted to bring the game into the PokerStars Casino universe. One thing led to another and we decided to work with them to build a game to meet the market need. That game is Casino Rush. It was designed using familiar poker mechanics but transforms poker into a player-versus-house game that provides a fast-paced session with constant action. We are very excited about this product as it is a further effort by us to meet the evolving needs of all gamers, both existing poker players and those currently playing other mobile games but looking for a better experience that only the poker mechanic can provide.

I think the game is great; it's a lot of fun and really pulls you in. The challenge we now face, though, is how to convince people who've decided they don't know or like poker to give it a try.

Not all new product innovations succeed. What is certain, however, is that we will continue to innovate and find products both for poker players and for those who have not yet discovered the game. Jackpot Poker is the best social poker game for poker players. We hope Casino Rush and its future siblings will be the best social poker games for non-poker players. We're enjoying producing them- we hope you'll love playing them.