Big changes have been happening with the Merge Gaming Network. With US-facing online poker skins like Carbon Poker and Aced involved, Merge’s recent transformation has garnered quite a bit of attention.
The announcement that Poker Host – one of the most well-regarded of the Merge skins – was leaving to join the new Equity Poker Network left players on Merge wondering what the future might hold, but the network subsequently combined player pools for better liquidity, reinstated a bad beat jackpot, and has seen an increasingly positive response from customers in the past week.
Change Can Be Good
Poker Host is a US-facing online poker site that was touted by customers as having one of the best payment-response times in the business and good rapport with players. When the management made the decision to switch to the Equity Poker Network, the industry wondered if Merge would make any changes to make up for the Poker Host crowd exiting its network of players.
Merge was ready. Having already combined the Carbon and Aced player pools, it then integrated Jazette with its new cashier system and player pool. The software update completed a full integration of all Merge online poker rooms for complete liquidity, which gave players more tournament options with larger players pools, and a broader range of cash game opponents.
In addition, Carbon and Aced introduced a new bad beat jackpot for players with no rake. The Holdem cash game tables (full ring, fixed limit, and six-max) would be a part of the promotion without any extra cost to players for their participation, as Merge promised to cover all associated fees. The BBJ started at $1,000 on April 9, and increased at $.10 per minute, which will continue.
Lastly, the new Online Poker Series (OPS) tournament series for players was given a boost for Merge players. While the last OPS offered only $1.1 million in guarantees, the new guarantee for the series was set at $2.1 million, which included a $250K guarantee for the Main Event alone.
The combined players pools and promotions by Merge have resulted in a significant rise in traffic. Though Merge had seen a decline in traffic for more than six months, the first week after changes were implemented saw a rise of 40 percent in cash game volume in the first two days. That number decreased to 30 percent at the end of the first week, but signaled a great deal of player satisfaction.
Overlays in major tournaments were almost immediately affected positively, and Merge responded by increasing its nightly High Roller tournament from a $12,500 guaranteed prize pool to $20,000. And the Sunday Big Ticket tournament guarantee was raised from $100K to $125K.
Players took to the forums to express gratitude for Merge’s changes and excitement about the new liquidity. While Merge is still an unregulated online poker site in the United States that accepts US players, it looks to now rise to the top of that list of sites with the newfound enthusiasm from its customers.
Industry analysts predict that other tournament guarantees may see increases in the coming weeks and months, should traffic continue at or above its current level.