Sites across the Merge Gaming network will now share player liquidity – but with the change comes a few unexpected oddities.
With the migration of PokerHost to the Equity Poker Network now finalized, Merge has rolled out sweeping changes to its struggling online poker network. First reported by Professional Rakeback on Wednesday, it now appears that all remaining Merge skins will share player liquidity.
Merge performed a software update which effectively linked the player pools of sites owned by Jazette Enterprise and the network’s other skins, including network crown jewel’s Carbon Poker and Aced. This occurred only 11 months after Jazette made the initial decision to segregate its player pool.
Full desegregation has been hinted at since last December, when Jazette and Carbon desegregated low-stakes SNGs player pools.
Among the other changes introduced after the update were a new Bad Beat Jackpot on Carbon and Aced, an expansion of the popular Carbon OPS series from $1.1 million to $2.1 million and several player independent restrictions.
The last point warrants additional detail. Some players have reported only being allowed to sit at a maximum of four tables at a time. There has been no word from Merge regarding why certain players were affected by this change, but it appears to target winning high-stakes players exclusively. Jazette skins have imposed similar restrictions for some time. Carbon and Aced have taken other stances against what’s commonly referred to in the poker world as “bumhunting,” most notably by recently introducing anonymous SNG lobbies.
Others players have indicated that they’ve been let go from Merge’s VIP program. Again, no details have emerged regarding why this change was instituted.
Over the past two years, Merge has condensed the number of skins residing on its network by a considerable amount, so much so, that PokerHost was the last non-Jazette holdout. It is speculated that this was done to bring the focus back to its heavy hitters. At first, the change was met with player approval, resulting in slow yet steady growth. But increased payout times set off a downtrend, one that saw 7-day average cash-game volume on the network plummet from nearly 700 to 400 over a two month span. Today, that number has sputtered down to approximately 300.
But with shared player pools comes the prospect for renewed growth. With Jazette back in the mix, cash games and tournaments should see a healthy player infusion. Even more so when you consider that Jazette owned sites currently boast approximately one-third of total network traffic. That being said, the recent loss of PokerHost could set off a short term traffic windfall.
As far U.S. players, the introduction of more cashiering options, should at least partially resolve the delayed payout situation. If it doesn’t, Merge risks falling into fourth place behind the much-maligned Chico among off-shore sites currently accepting players from the States.