Online Poker Report

Answers: Player to Player Transfers on the Merge Poker Network

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The Merge Poker Network recently made the decision to suspend player-to-player transfers at all rooms.

With so much confusion and misinformation floating around in the aftermath of that decision, I’ve tried to collect clear and objective answers in one place.

Current chatter regarding the Merge Network is awash in speculation.  Players should assume all information is (at best) an educated guess.

If you want any questions added, just ask in the comments.

P2P Transfer Questions

Can I make player-to-player transfers at Merge right now?

No.  As of November 1st, the ability for players to make and receive transfers to and from other players has been suspended at all Merge Network rooms.

Are player-to-player transfers going to be restored at some point?

It’s unclear.  A rep for Merge skin Carbon Poker indicated on TwoPlusTwo that the transfer suspension was only temporary,  but then a rep for Merge skin BlackChipPoker claimed it was permanent.   The Carbon rep then walked back a bit on his original statement, saying  he couldn’t “confirm or deny” whether the change was permanent.

For the purposes of planning, players should probably assume this is a permanent change.

This  is especially true for Carbon, Aced and PDC, who are in the process of moving to a separate cashier (Jazette).  None of the rooms currently using Carbon’s new cashier allow p2p transfers.  Additionally, Carbon will now be offering sports betting options from the same account, and sports books generally don’t offer a p2p transfer feature.

Has Merge released an official statement on the p2p transfer issue?

Merge hasn’t made any public comment on the matter that I am aware of, and did not accept my request for comment.  The closest thing I’ve seen was an excerpt from an email purportedly sent by Merge to operators published at ProfessionalRakeback.com:

Effective November 1st, 2012, Merge Gaming will no longer allow player to player transfers. Functionality will be disabled in the Merge client for players. This decision was not taken lightly. A number of factors were considered and we are confident this is what is best for Merge and its partners.

You’ll note that the article has since been edited to offer a much shorter statement.

Why did Merge halt player-to-player transfers?

Short answer: No one knows for sure.  Multiple sources with reputations for accuracy and insight are offering competing answers to this question.

Here are some of the explanations I’ve seen so far.  All suffer from the same flaw: Each could be plausible, but we probably won’t know which is actually correct until it’s too late to matter.

  • At PokerFraudAlert.com, Todd Witteles concludes that Merge halted transfers as part of a larger plan to reduce the number of skins on the network.  His article also contains excellent background and context regarding Merge’s relationship with skins.
  • Another common theory is that Merge is facing some type of cash crunch and killing p2p to slow withdrawals.   The basic outline: Payment processing in the US market is expensive, complicated and involves substantial lag times.  Add that on top of generous commissions to affiliates and rewards for players, and you get a potentially worrisome situation.
  • Alternatively, Merge got tired of players circumventing withdrawal restrictions with transfers and cut them to exercise greater control over cash outflow.
  • As noted earlier, Carbon (along with Aced and PDC) is moving to a new cashier platform, one that will almost certainly lack player-to-player transfers.  Carbon is widely regarded as the flagship room of the network, and Merge could have cut transfers for all skins to avoid putting Carbon at a competitive disadvantage.

There’s no shortage of explanations that make sense – just a shortage of supporting evidence.

Related Merge Questions

What impact did the transfer decision have on traffic at Merge?

If you look at PokerScout data for Merge, traffic at the network was already in decline.  One would assume (and anecdotal reports on TwoPlusTwo suggest) that players who relied on transfers to cash out or for staking will be moving their action to a new site, but there are no hard numbers available.

Is Merge facing financial difficulty?

Players are going to have to judge this one for themselves.  I think three things are worth noting:

  • Payments are definitely slow at Merge rooms right now, at least judging from the official TwoPlusTwo thread and recent processing grades from PAS.  However, it’s impossible to know if that’s a result of the challenges of processing and moving money around, financial strain or some other factor.
  • Merge claims to hold player funds in a segregated account, but that’s not much comfort to some players, and there’s not a great way for them to prove funds are segregated (not that they’ve tried).
  • My personal opinion is that operating a US-facing online poker room is an inherently risky endeavor.  That doesn’t mean a company serving the US market must be in financial difficulty, only that they’re under greater threat of such difficulty than an identical poker network that doesn’t take US action.

I heard there was an email saying Merge was broke

That email appears to have been discredited.  Read more about the source of and potential motivations behind that email.

Why are so many skins leaving the Merge network?

The speculation is that Merge is cracking down on skins who violated network policy or is simply trying to squeeze out skins.  It could also be that some or all the skins weren’t viable and buckled as the industry at large continued to contract.

Related Carbon Poker Questions

What is the deal with Carbon Poker and Carbon Sports?

That’s covered pretty completely by a Carbon rep on TwoPlusTwo here.  Short version: Carbon is moving to a new platform that will also offer casino and sports betting.  The poker software will remain the same, but the cashier will be different from other Merge skins.  Aced Poker and PDC will also be making the move along with Carbon.

Will Carbon Poker be getting transfers back?

Doubtful.  Other poker rooms using Carbon’s new cashier (Jazette / Sportsbook.ag) do not allow player-to-player transfers.  Plus, as a general rule sports betting sites don’t offer p2p transfers.

Does Merge Own Carbon Poker?

A Carbon rep on TwoPlusTwo says no.  Here’s a lengthier take on the complicated relationship between Merge, Carbon and other online betting sites.

Are PDC Poker and Aced Poker Connected to Carbon Poker?

Yes, all three sites are owned by the same company.

Image credit: CrazyPhunk, Creative Commons 

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- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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