Top Stories of 2005 – Part I –
Life of the Party(Gaming, this is…)

Cuth1As the clock ticks down to the final minutes of 2005, Wicked Chops Poker is waxing nostalgic on some big stories that were in this year’s deck of cards–metaphors be damned.

To kick things off, it would be almost impossible (but not quite impossible) to fondly reminesce on the spectacle of poker’s greatest soap opera…PartyGaming. 

Let’s face it, the drama, suspense, twists, and turns with PartyGaming’s continued saga makes an episode of 24 look like some metaphor that gives us an excuse to use this Elisha Cuthbert picture.

Because as we’ve established, she’s hot.

But back on point, PartyGaming gives you everything you could possibly ask for as a quote-unquote poker journalist…

Pg3 First there‚Äôs the back-story: As we recounted earlier this year, the company was founded by a massage parlor owner (Richard Parasol) in San Francisco who‚Äôs daughter grew up to be a lawyer-turned-phone-sex princess (Ruth Parasol).  Ruth Parasol then met a 25-year-old computer engineer from New Delhi (hopefully not at a massage parlor or over the phone) with the unfortunate name (but who is now worth fortunes) of Anurag Dikshit. Dikshit, whose name doesn‚Äôt ever get not-funny, ends up writing her proprietary programs making it possible for up to 70,000 people to play online poker at one time–just as the poker craze began its meteoric rise.  PartyIpo_1Gaming hires Mike Sexton to help out with marketing and to lend credibility to its poker site,, and some suits are brought in to manage the biz.

Obscene success ensues.

PartyGaming then partied like it was 1999, dropping an IPO on the London Stock Exchange on June 27, 2005. The stock closed up 11% on its initial price and has since seen some peaks and valleys, watching its market valuation soar over $7billion pounds, and is now performing solidly, trading above its IPO price.  With the addition of blackjack and other gaming software to its offering, analysts expect PartyGaming to continue its strong run.

You‚Äôd think the PartyGaming story then was due for a Pg2massage parlor style happy ending.  But the soap opera plot thickens, as PartyGaming had to start acting like dikshits by trying to screw over its partners, particularly Empire Poker. Ethical questions arose as PartyGaming pulled the skins off Empire‚Äôs back, devaluing the company‚Äôs worth so it could snatch it up at a cheaper price. 

Issues surrounding the ethics of PartyGaming’s actions arose.  But was it really unethical?  Iggy from Guinness and Poker puts it pretty simply, ‚ÄúNo, don‚Äôt be silly."  The potential Empire lawsuit shouldn’t have an impact either, as he says, "I would assume that PartyGaming has a fairly competent legal team.‚Äù 

Double A’s also has an interesting take on the Empire skinning, saying, “I was surprised that PartyGaming would have the arrangement they did. I thought the skins had a great business life. PartyGaming spent the most money on advertising and all the regular players were playing through a skin to get big rakeback deals.”

Will the crumbling Empire turn PartyGaming‚Äôs success into a house of cards?  Probably not, but in the end, you never know what the river will produce.


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