Digitain’s head of poker and skill games, Hayk Sargsyan, reflects on how he swapped his office table for a poker one, discussing the transition from political science to the igaming industry where he has found himself working for Digitain.
Politics is no stranger to me – I grew up in a family of politicians. Studying in the United States as an exchange student for one year, entering university, receiving a PhD in political science at the age of only 24 – it’s as if following the footsteps of my father was something to be anticipated. However, life is a tricky business and several years of working in the Government has proven that suits and ties are not for me, I much prefer a hoodie and jeans.
“Is it hard to erase 28 years of your life and start from scratch?” I asked myself one night walking out of the cinema, after watching a movie about poker. That day I gambled for the first time with my life. Needless to say, my decision raised some eyebrows in my family.
Six years later I look at my poker trophies and imagine what my life could have been had I not gone to the cinema that evening? Could I have become an expert, a minister or a member of parliament? Maybe. But, at that time, after quitting my previous job and playing poker professionally for a long time, I could never think of going back to working. Playing live poker tournaments – reading people’s minds, their moves and exploiting their weaknesses – how cool is that?
I kept on playing, enjoying the game and emotions running with it, winning and losing at times, participating in almost every major live tournament in the region. During one of those tournaments, one of the fellow players asked me if I would like to work for Digitain, a major igaming company.
It’s hard to explain, but I have had one of those feelings when you know it’s inevitable. First time it happened was when I saw my future wife from far away and thought to myself, “It’s your wife standing there and you don’t even know her name”. Same here – deep down I felt my life was about to change again and that I am going to work for Digitain, despite my inner resistance to replace the poker table with an office one. My decision on that faithful movie evening has led me to become the head of gaming in Digitain, the brightest company with awesome people.
I came here as a pioneer poker product manager and one year later, we are successfully integrating our partners with poker software and participating in WSOP Online (World Series Of Poker) with 54 bracelets to be awarded to the winners.
This is a tough year for the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic and poker is no exception to that. Owing to the absence of live poker, online poker is growing. This is the reason this year’s WSOP is taking place online with a $25m guaranteed Main Event in August. You could only imagine our happiness if someone from our partners’ players wins the main event.
However, this growth in online poker may not continue for long and after the world is breathing freely without COVID-19, people will be back at poker tables again causing the online prize pools to decline to pre-COVID times. This is when we will need another “Moneymaker effect” to keep the online poker alive and growing.
To tackle this issue, I was promoted to the head of gaming department at Digitain and was tasked with the implementation of considerable changes within the department’s structure and strategy. As a result of those changes, Poker is now a part of Skill Games Unit, which is responsible for developing the latest skill-based games, enabling our partners to provide the best gaming experience to their players.
Gaming industry operates in a dynamically changing and fast-paced environment. To keep up with the ever changing consumer behaviour and needs, it is essential to adapt to the new realities. Having this in mind, we have committed to major changes in our strategy. That is why we are now working on incorporating new innovative technologies and new design approaches into our existing skill games, which will enable for a faster performance and ultimately better gaming experience for our players. We are also working on introducing new games to the market in 2021, which would help us to become a leading provider of Skill Games in the near future.
The widespread lockdown affected the igaming industry as a whole. While sports and betting industries were experiencing difficult times, the online games industry was growing. This trend was in line with our strategy to develop fast games and become an industry leading provider, in a market not dominated by any company. To achieve our goal, we have taken the decision to diversify our bet on games portfolio, which currently comprises six fast games, to fifteen in 2021, including must-have and entertaining games.
The new games will be a sound addition to our current popular games, such as HiLo, an immersive, and entertaining high-velocity game, and RocketOn, which comes from the video gaming industry, and became popular due to its simplicity and exciting gambling experience. The game includes a launching rocket that can explode at any moment. When the round starts, a scale of multiplier starts running. The player must opt for cash out before the rocket explodes.
The structural changes within the gaming department has also led to the creation of a product development unit to discover new areas and coming up with new approaches to improve the existing portfolio providing the best gaming experience to the players.
In this context, Digitain has given a high priority to the development of virtual sports platform within the gaming department and is making plans to enter the market with a new product line in 2021. That is who we are in Digitain – a successful, well-known, fast growing company with a promising future. Because we know what our customers need and experience.