PurePlay’s Patented Legal Hack

by on October 30, 2007 · 23 comments

Some months ago, I noted that Betzip.com (since rechristened “PurePlay.com”) employs an intriguing legal hack to avoid anti-gambling regulations. It charges its customers a flat monthly fee, which qualifies them to win large prizes for winning online poker games. Non-paying customers can play the same games for free, too—though without qualifying for the largest prizes.

Why adopt that business model? Presumably, because it allows PurePlay to argue that it does not offer a gambling service. Specifically, PurePlay could claim that, because the amount players win has no relation to how much they stake, it dodges the “consideration” element of the legal definition of gambling. Query whether that claim would survive the devoted attentions of a prosecutor and court. I set that question aside, though, and here focus on PurePlay’s claim that they have patented their business model.

Curious about the scope of PurePlay’s patent, I searched its website for details. It offered none. I wrote to PurePlay asking for the patent’s number. PurePlay refused to say. So I put my able research assistant, Mr. Sherwood Tung, on the case. He found PurePlay’s patent, and more.


MMJK Inc., an entity located in San Francisco, California, owns PurePlay. It holds U.S. patent # 7,094,154. The Patentscope database of the World Intellectual Property Organization indicates that MMJK has also sought similar patent protection in many foreign countries. The patent’s abstract reads thusly:

A computer networked, multi-user game system utilizing subscription based membership and alternative methods of entry, as well as the award of prizes of immediate value to the winner is described. A game tournament is hosted by a game server computer coupled to client computers operated by participating players. The games offered are games that involve elements of both skill and chance and require active player participation and decision making. A subscription-based membership is established for each player by charging a fee for a pre-determined membership time period. An alternative method of entry is provided to allow non-subscription players to participate in the tournament without payment of the fee. The non-subscribing players receive equal access to the games and at least the same chance of winning as the subscribing players, but are limited to a single entry per game or tournament. The game server hosts at least one game or tournament within the period, and players are potentially eliminated until a winning player and any runner-up players are determined. A prize pool is disbursed to the winning players in the form of cash, cash-equivalent notes, or prizes that have inherent and immediate value.

That of course offers only a shorthand description of the patent. You must carefully read its claims to know its actual scope. Or, I should say, its supposed scope; any patent can fall to a legal challenge, and business method patents prove especially susceptible to failing “non-obvious” inquiries.

[Crossposted to Midas Oracle and Agoraphilia.]

  • Carrie

    Indeed – there is another company following the same model: http://www.clububt.com

    Interesting how people can create wiggle room! :)

  • Carrie

    Indeed – there is another company following the same model: http://www.clububt.com

    Interesting how people can create wiggle room! :)

  • Just A Guy

    I knew it’d only be a matter of time before BetZip/PurePlay got some competition. Hopefully this will be a nice kick in the ass for them to get a clue. Their browser based software is horrid. The constantly cancel the highest money tourniments while claiming tech issues. And they don’t seem to be to interested in what their paying customers would like to see.

  • Just A Guy

    I knew it’d only be a matter of time before BetZip/PurePlay got some competition. Hopefully this will be a nice kick in the ass for them to get a clue. Their browser based software is horrid. The constantly cancel the highest money tourniments while claiming tech issues. And they don’t seem to be to interested in what their paying customers would like to see.

  • aggie320

    pureplay is so fixed it’s not even funny. This site is 1 step away from robbery….Aggie320 a paying member

  • aggie320

    pureplay is so fixed it’s not even funny. This site is 1 step away from robbery….Aggie320 a paying member

  • aggie320

    pureplay is so fixed it’s not even funny. This site is 1 step away from robbery….Aggie320 a paying member

  • aggie320

    pureplay is so fixed it’s not even funny. This site is 1 step away from robbery….Aggie320 a paying member

  • aggie320

    pureplay is so fixed it’s not even funny. This site is 1 step away from robbery….Aggie320 a paying member

  • aggie320

    pureplay is so fixed it’s not even funny. This site is 1 step away from robbery….Aggie320 a paying member

  • http://pureplay i won freeroll

    i won freeroll for $50 dollors from pureplaypoker site and i cant cash check anywhere been so many places all they say is cant cash a check that doesnt have a address they have a PO BOX to hide where they are straight bogus WASTE OF MY FUCKING TIME!!!!! BS BS

  • i won freeroll

    i won freeroll for $50 dollors from pureplaypoker site and i cant cash check anywhere been so many places all they say is cant cash a check that doesnt have a address they have a PO BOX to hide where they are straight bogus WASTE OF MY FUCKING TIME!!!!! BS BS

  • Dave

    Pureplay is NOT fixed. I am a Paid Member and have won checks five times so far, totaling 375 dollars. Reimbursement comes in the form of a check aproximately 15 days later after you send in a request with a copy of your ID or Drivers liscense. After that you can claim any won prize right on the website. As far as getting the checks cashed, I just deposited mine in my bank account. No problems what-so-ever. As far as people claiming that the site is fixed, well thats bull. Those people that complain are only upset because of bad beats on the river. No one wants to admit that those are just the dynamics of poker and shit happens. Also if you havent won or havent won that many tournaments, my suggestion is to hang in there, and play more tournaments and you will win, eventually. Ask the guy that has won over 15,000 dollars on the site, if the site is hacked or fixed. He will just laugh at you.

  • cybertiger

    Yea and it seems the SAME people win the BIG money all the time., not to mention the crazy river cards that come out and also quads galore, action flops…etc

    Not saying that they don't pay…but it seems they allow certain peple to win more often…and i agree the site should be investigated for fraud!!

    Great idea ruined by an idiot!!

    Paying member….for now!! till a legit site with a real “random” card generator comes out!!

    cybertiger on pukeplay

  • cybertiger

    lolol…another joke of a site…CLUBUBT.COM is a joke as well…i thought the miracle river wins were bad on pureplay…OMG 100x worse on that site ..i cancelled after 4 hours!! i didn't even finish my 2 weeks…was aggrovated after 4 hours…lol

    Maybe some day someone will have a site ..same concept, but with with a truly random card generator, and not this crap…they all use the “action flop” theory.

    Read this…it'll explain what these online poker sites are doing..and SHOULD be illegal!!

    http://www.thedoverpro.com/poker-action-flop.htm

  • En it

    Lol, to the above. I play on Pureplay as a freebee player and have won 95 dollars in the small tourneys since August (8X 10 bucks and 1X15 bucks). I did my ID stuff the 1st time and submit online the second time and both cheques came promptly all the way to the UK, and I cashed them no problem. The staff are very helpful when you send them an EE too.
    And for the whiners that lose …if you care to look, their program for random generation has been tested by an independent and certified company for accuaracy and fairness (see PP site , copy in there some where, I think under 'terms and conditions' page).
    Me i'm happy (bar a few connectivity issues at times) cos' I have 95 bucks for absolutley no outlay …zillion percent profit.

  • matt

    Any of the chodes here who claim the site aint rigged do this and you will never win money games again. Just bad mouth pure play while playing in a tourney or practice room. Or better yet Email their customer service and tell them you think they do not have a random card generator worth a flip. You will NEVER even comes close to the money EVER again. I'm proof. I can win all day long in the single table tourneys but go to the show and try? Not since I emailed and told them their RCG was worthless and needed to be replaced.

  • Albert A. Llamas

    nice article! nice site. you're in my rss feed now ;-)
    keep it up

  • r

    Pureplay card generator is very bad. I have had to change my game radically just to try to cope with it. For all you who say patterns don't exist, sorry, but they do.

    I deliberately look for them and try to use them to some advantage. But the game at pureplay is not really poker, it is more like 'Pattern Recognition' and 'Money Management', very similar to good blackjack strategy.

  • Plezyer

    Who owns PurePlay.com and where do the profits go? Are they mobbed up, corrupt, terrorists or all of the above?

  • Mark

    http://blogambling.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/pur

    pureplay responds to this feed

  • Mark

    http://blogambling.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/pur

    pureplay responds to this feed

  • Mark

    http://blogambling.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/pur

    pureplay responds to this feed

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