UniversityPokerTour.com and Matti Makkonen

Between FTOPS tournaments this weekend, I got an email from a guy in South Africa asking how much I’d want for this domain name, explaining how poker is blowing up in Johannesberg and he wants to go after the college poker market. He politely explained that the domain would be more valuable for a South African project, since down there they call their colleges “University”. I liked this guy. (I don’t think I’ve ever known a South African that I didn’t like now that I think about it). I decided to do a little research and get back to him to try to strike a fair price.

Then about an hour later a DIFFERENT guy from Europe emailed saying he was interested in seeing a list of my poker domain names, so I sent him a list. He said the one he was interested in (out of the 800 or so poker domain names) was… drumroll…. wait for it… UniversityPokerTour.com.

Let me explain to you how much of a “coincidence” that is… Out of 4,000 or so domain names, I get MAYBE three inquiries a week. Maybe about a third of those inquiries materialize into an actual offer. And about 70% of the time, that resulting offer is pretty low… Like, “Dude that won’t even get me a lapdance during Happy Hour at Little Darlings” low.

But here these guys were not only inquiring about the same name, they were BOTH ready to buy immediately in the $x,xxx range. I figured they were from the same group and just weren’t communicating with each other… but they weren’t related in any way. So I have no idea what to do. But whatever happens… it’s good. 🙂

I picked up the domain name several years ago because I thought it was such a great obvious business model… a completely free, intercollegiate poker league where students chill and play free poker with each other and earn points to qualify to enter the semi-final round of the University Poker Tour, which obviously would also be free for real pries… all ending in a big tournament tournament televised live by all the major networks where the college poker champion is crowned!!! I know you’re asking how can a business model surrounding free poker make money… don’t worry about it. I believe that in the future ALL poker will be played without money. I still kind of have a dream of maybe revisiting the project down the line. Free poker leagues, bar poker, university poker clubs… I think that’s where poker is headed.

Anyway, since I picked it up, several other extensions have been bought and developed. UniversityPokerTour.net is a developed bar league in Tennessee, for example. ItalianUPT.com is the site for the “Italian University Poker Tour”. The domain is taken in eight extensions, including UniversityPokerTour.co.uk (england), UniversityPoker.ca(canada), and UniversityPokerTour.nl (netherlands). Sidenote, it’s still available for reg fee in a lot of good extensions, if you were so inclined to invest a few bucks into UniversityPokerTour.me, for example, or UniversityPokerTour.ws. It’s not like .com is the only extension out there! But it is king.

Back to the two buyers. They both wanted to talk on the phone. I actually have a self-diagnosed social anxiety disorder called Telephonophobia (i.e. the fear of phones… not the phone itself, but communicating on the phone). Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely talk on the phone. I dread chatting on the phone. I have enough experience talking with people that I don’t think it comes off when I’m actually on the phone… I try to act comfortable and natural. But I feel it. Which is why I could kiss the dude who invented text messaging.

Matti Makkonen picture

So I talked to each of them over MSN instead… probably better anyway since they’re both foreign. I let them both know that there was another party interested in the domain name and that I had a large collection of alternate domains I’d sell for a fraction of what they were offering for UniversityPokerTour. But they were both very insistent on getting this particular name. So I decided the best course of action is to put it up for auction at eBay.

Here’s my perfect scenario: I’ll start the auction this week and some VP of Marketing from PokerStars or FullTiltPoker will take notice and decide it’s worth as much as it takes to acquire the domain. Meanwhile, a Michelob Ultra heavy would decide the same thing, while Steve Lipscomb finalizes the new WPT press release announcing the launch of “The University Poker Tour” after just buying UPT.com for $50k. They all get in a pissing contest and raise the price up to a modest six figures… then Yahoo Poker and Myspace poker get involved and the high-bid stands for two days at $1 million dollars. Then seconds before it sells, GoldenPalace.com comes in using their auction sniper and buys the domain for a cool 8 figures as a huge publicity stunt (along with their check would be a little apologetic note from GP owners David Leb and Jack Strollsaying “sorry” for screwing me and my little brother over back during the PokerSpot days and encouraging me to “do something positive with the $69 million”).

Here’s a more likely scenario: I’ll start the domain name auction this week, spend a half-day promoting the hell out of it, and watch slightly disappointed as it gets exactly two bids. Whatevs. I’ve learned to appreciate any domain sale over a grand these days and to especially appreciate the “Blue Sky” sales… those are the sales that just fall into your lap from heaven without any real work from you where the customer comes to you. And it’ll be nice to see the domain go to actual use instead of wasting away on my registrar’s parking page.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got to say about that. Barring any unforeseen developments, I’m expecting to start the auction for UniversityPokerTour.com later this week. I’ll make sure that it doesn’t end before Thanksgiving to give everyone out there plenty of time to get involved and bid against each other. It’ll definitely be nice to get a little cashflow in to support my domaining habit and to fund development of some of the domains I’m working on. If you’re interested in making a bid or checking out the auction, just type the domain in and I’ll have it setup to go straight to the eBay auction. Or email me and I’ll make sure you’re notified when it starts. Also, if you have a relationship with a potential end-user for the domain, please let them know that it’s for sale.

Now it’s time to get this all out of my head and focus on winning this FTOPs main event! Playing under “Dutchalicious” if you feel like watching. After my “chat abuse” and subsequent banning for life from Poker Stars, I turn off all chat on the cardrooms… so don’t think I’m rude if you try to give a shoutout and I don’t respond.

Posted on November 16, 2008 in university poker tour

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Response (1)

  1. Anonymous
    December 17, 2008 at 1:58 pm ·

    How the hell do you maintain 4,000 domains? I’ve held on to 5 or 6 for the last 10 years which I wish I could get rid of but now I can’t just because of nostalgia over them and I can’t bear the thought of someone else taking them by letting the renewal lapse. Anyway, at $15-25$ a year each, I feel like I’m just pissing money away each time the renewal comes up… but 4,000 of them!?!?!??!!??!?!!?!?! I can only assume you’re paying a lot less than I am???

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