Slow Start For Nevada / Delaware Shared Online Poker Room

Delaware / Nevada Online Poker Pooling: A Technical Success With Minimal Traffic Impacts

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The launch of the regulated market’s first interstate online poker network, the Multi-State Poker Network (MSPN), has had a nominal impact on cash game traffic in the first weeks since the shared Delaware / Nevada player pool went live.

That’s per the latest Scouting Report,’s twice-weekly analysis publication, which covers the happenings of the global online poker industry:

Data: Scouting Report /

Data: Scouting Report /

Initial spike followed by rapid falloff

At first, it appeared that the liquidity sharing compact between in Nevada and Delaware’s three 888 powered online poker rooms would breathe new and sustained life into Delaware’s fledgling market.

On the network’s first full day of operation, daily player counts were up 10% over the week prior. That was followed by a nearly 20% week-over-week increase on Day Two.

But as the Scouting Report indicates, the novelty of the newly-minted network quickly waned, and by the network’s sixth day (Monday, March 30), traffic counts were 3% lower than they were pre-merger.

Since, ring game traffic has improved – liquidity was up 11% over the past weekend – but the MSPN has failed to exhibit the kind of growth expected by even the most conservative industry estimates, my own included, which placed average post-merger traffic somewhere in the vicinity of 190 players.

At the time of this writing, 7-day cash game averages on the MSPN are hovering around 170 and trending relatively neutral.

Daily peak extended, slightly

One side benefit of merging markets from two different time zones is that there is a significantly longer window in which above average liquidity numbers can be maintained.

The MSPN illustrates this phenomenon, if only partially.

While it is true that the MSPN is sustaining peak liquidity for a longer period of time relative to when Delaware and Nevada poker rooms operated as separate entities (45 minutes vs. 15 minutes), as per the Scouting Report, “the inevitable drop-off that occurs as night wears on is more pronounced now.”

Sources: Scouting Report /

Data: Scouting Report /

Also, it appears that the secondary peak enjoyed by the market pre-merger is no longer present. The Scouting Report suggests that this occurrence is the result of a “late-night surge” known to happen on occasion in Nevada, and “is likely unrelated to the Delaware pooling.” In other words, an anomaly.

Yet, just knowing that there were times when pre-merger traffic exceeded post-merger liquidity reinforces the notion that pooling players across state lines does not guarantee significant growth.

Why isn’t the MSPN a bigger success?

The potential reasoning behind why the MSPN failed to inspire a more pronounced traffic surge are as wide as they are varied:

  • Disinterest among Nevada players: Even in bullish scenarios, Delaware players were never expected to comprise more than 20% of the MPSN’s player base. That’s hardly incentive enough for Nevada players who abandoned regulated online poker due to low traffic counts to revisit legal online poker.
  • Poor marketing efforts: The mailer sent out to Delaware players did nothing to explain how the merger with Nevada directly impacted liquidity. A simple “Play online poker with 20 times the amount of players,” may have worked wonders. To the casual player unaware of the size of the Nevada market, the idea of a small state merging with another small state just wasn’t a big deal.
  • Network restrictions: To least some degree, Delaware players may have been disappointed to learn that they were not eligible to participate in WSOP sponsored satellites (justified since WSOP does not operate in Delaware), nor does in Nevada currently support lesser played games such as Limit Hold’em (less justified).
  • Seasonal downtrend: March and April are typically down months for online poker. It’s conceivable that the seasonal downtrend is simply masking the impact the MSPN is having on liquidity. We really won’t know until more time has passed.
  • Delaware residents playing in NJ: This is pure speculation, but it’s possible that Delaware’s hardcore players were already making the trek to New Jersey, and even now, see little reason to play on regulated DE sites, due to NJ’s larger player pool and higher tournament guarantees.

Given these variables, and the data gathered so far, it is difficult to envision a scenario where the MSPN increases liquidity by more than 15, maybe 20%. More likely, the percentage jump will be in the high single digits.

- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several publications centered on legal US online poker and the regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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