The Merge Network is apparently expanding up their policy of ring fencing their player pools between sites. This move is not a complete shock as some network skins have segregated a select number of ring games since 2011.
It was somewhat common knowledge among experienced players that Players Only and Sportsbook.com skins had ring fenced certain games to only allow their players to face off against one another. This reason for this is obvious – to stop more experienced players from taking the sports bettor’s or casino player’s money at the tables. These players are far more profitable to the sites than your average grinder, and it behooves these skins to keep these types of players in action.
However, on May 1st, the skins may have taken their actions a bit further. There is no official word from the Merge Network or their flagship skin Carbon Poker, so these accusations are coming from players on network rooms.
2+2 was ablaze with discussions late last week with players wondering what happened to the player numbers at both Sit n’ go tournaments and Limit Hold’em games. So far, Carbon representatives have not answered players’ questions in regards to the drop in player numbers. Many players reported seeing SNGs and LHE cash games available on Sportsbook and Players Only skins, but the players/tables not appearing on Carbon Poker or Aced.
Traffic stats at PokerFusePro for Merge (which views Merge from Carbon Poker) do show a dip around April 1st, but Merge was already on a downward trend prior to the dip so it’s tough to conclude much regarding ring-fencing from the data.
Carbon, and perhaps Merge management may not have much of a say if Sportsbook/Players Only has made this move. They seem to be able to do what they wish their specific player pool, without repercussions from the network.
Ring fencing and player segregation was once unheard of in online poker, but many rooms in recent years have adopted some form of the practice.
The move by some of Merge’s skins came as a shock to players who wondered what prompted such a move and are still wondering about the specifics. After all, there has been no official announcement on these changes leaving players in the dark. Are more changes coming? Is this a permanent move?
For now, US online poker players are dealt another blow with SNG and LHE players specifically angered by these moves. The SNG segregation is especially shocking and unheard of in the industry. The early results of this move have seemed to hurt the liquidity of SNGs at Carbon Poker/Aced heavily.
Though, a full segregation of player pools amongst certain skins seems unlikely – it may be a realistic possibility. Former Merge skin, and now Revolution Gaming room Lock Poker made the move in early February to ring fence $1/$2 ring games and higher from the rest of the network.