After suspending publication seven months ago, longtime poker magazine Ante Up still hasn’t returned to print, and one of its owners tells CardsChat that he and his partner are actively seeking to sell the company.
Ante Up canceled its February print edition and co-founder Scott Long told CardsChat then that he hoped to resume publication as the COVID-19 pandemic waned. While most poker rooms have reopened, some have remained closed or permanently shut down. And, given the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant, it’s possible some reopened rooms may close in the future depending on local health conditions.
Distribution channels for narrow
Based on these factors, Long said on Thursday that he doesn’t know when publication could resume. “We are only at 265 poker rooms that have reopened across the country, still down from the 282 distribution locations we had pre-COVID, so it still does not make sense for us to resume publishing the printed product at this time,” Long said.
He previously told CardsChat he’d like to see distribution in 350 card rooms, but the pandemic has made that goal unobtainable for now. Long and his co-founder, Chris Cosenza, have published Ante Up magazine for 12 years, and also host a weekly podcast by the same name that they’ve produced for 15 years. The pair has also partnered with casinos for the Ante Up Poker Tour, which will resume next month at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, California.
Ready to call it quits
Despite the poker tour’s return, the two owners are now looking to get out of the print business. “We are presently in good conversations with a handful of potential buyers of the company, but in the meantime, we are in the process of refreshing our website to drive additional revenue there,” Long said.
He added that the podcast would go to the magazine’s buyer and “any role we’d have in it – or Ante Up in any way – will be determined as part of our discussions with the new owner.” Long said that Cosenza talked about retiring from the poker business when he turned 50 last September, and the pair started talking about selling the company two years ago.
“COVID obviously was a gut punch, so we discussed whether to ride out the pandemic and build the company back up or sell it at a discount while the pandemic continued, and we chose the latter,” Long said. “We have active conversations with three potential buyers right now, and I believe one will end in an agreement, but we are happy to have discussions with other potential buyers, too, if they would like to contact me.”
Unlike other poker magazines, most of which have come and gone, Ante Up developed a following thanks to its regional focus. Writers cover poker rooms both inside the major markets like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and in the not-so-major markets like Wisconsin and Biloxi, Mississippi.
As a result, players who cash in smaller events in smaller poker markets get to see their names in print in a widely-distributed print publication.