What’s happening With Poker Platforms?
RPM Poker, a poker site associated with the Merge Gaming Network, shut down in the second week of December, without any prior warning. This move has left concerned players hunting for answers. People could sense that something was wrong as they could not access their RPM gaming accounts. It looked as if the RPM website had stopped working. Simultaneously, players got an email from the customer service team stating that the poker site would no longer operate.
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RPM shuts down
On December 14, RPM’s customer service manager sent another email saying that the poker site is still a partner of the Merge Network and it is operational. He also mentioned that the agent who sent out this news might have got confused with other sites like FeltStars and BluffRoom that are shutting down.
It looks as if the second email was meant to cover up for the customer service agent who had leaked the news very soon. In the evening of December 14, RPM Poker has clearly mentioned that the company has been procured by a third party. The officials of RPM Poker have made it very clear that the funds deposited by the poker players at the site will be completely secure. It has also confirmed that the site will be back and players can start playing on the site all over again.
Players who have their funds on the RPM gaming accounts can send an email to email@example.com and the poker company will have their poker balance moved to their personal accounts very soon. If this does not work, you can even select another poker site working on the Merge Network to get your money back. The preferred partners include CarbonPoker.ag, PlayersOnly.ag, and Sportsbook.ag.
The only means of communication between Merge Network (including the RPM Poker) and the poker players has just been the message on its poker site. There has not been any official statement elucidating the reasons for shutdown or the third party purchase. Members of internet message boards like Two Plus Two have also reported that the transfer of funds to other poker websites on Merge Network has been smooth. Even the rakeback deals are transferred to the gaming accounts of players. But, nothing has been said about the loyalty assets like VIP points.
Current situation of Merge Network
The current situation is yet another blow to the network that has just recovered from the problems it experienced in 2011. Last year, during June, the Merge Network stopped taking in new customers from the US as it couldn’t manage the number of players migrating from UB.com, Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars after Black Friday. The network reopened in October 2011, but in May 2012, its biggest member, Lock Poker broke his ties with the network and purchased Cake Poker Network. He then renamed the Cake Poker Network as Revolution Gaming.
During September 2012, the CEO of Merge Network, Anthony Taylor resigned after being with the firm for five years. Two other poker sites, FeltStars and BluffRoom, shut down in the month of October, just after Merge Network announced the ban of player-to-player funds transfer. The Merge Network is the twentieth biggest poker network on the web, with almost 600 players every day.
bwin shifts to PartyPoker
On one hand, we see that RPM Poker has shut down, but on the other, bwin.com has completed transition to PartyPoker Platform from Ongame on December 18. This means that the players on bwin.com can now share the player poker prize pool just like Party Poker. But there was no announcement prior to this transition. bwin.com had strategically planned to shift before the end of 2012. For the players at bwin.com, there will be a considerable increase in cash games. PartyPoker has almost double the cash game players when compared to Ongame. The players can also access the fast-fold product of PartyPoker.
In a blog post published by bwin.com, which confirms the shift of bwin.com to PartyPoker, features such as custom avatars and late registration tournaments on the new platform were hyped. PartyPoker will observe a significant bump in the player traffic, as most bwin.com players will shift to this new software. Most of the enlarged liquidity might be weighed toward micro-stakes. Several estimates have put bwin.com’s player base at 30 to 50 percent of Ongame Network. So, this will imply a 15 to 25 percent increase in PartyPoker’s traffic
How will the shift affect the platform rankings?
Players, who are wagering on other skins of PartyPoker, like Empire Poker and WPT Poker, might observe increase in player traffic. The rise is expected to place PartyPoker ahead of iPoker, on spot 3. But other skins of Ongame Network will experience the drop in player base. However, most of the Ongame tables by bwin.com are unique, so the decrease in the player base cannot be pronounced and might not be observable outside the micro-stakes. This result was expected when bwin.com and Party Gaming merged in 2010. After a year, formal sale of the Ongame was declared and was predicted to be completed by the end of last year.
But the sale was postponed as the parties stepped out of the deal. The company was committed to the merger of prize poker pool by the end of 2012. When Ongame Network switched to Amaya, in October, the shift was done on time. After bwin.com switched to Ongame Network, PartyPoker had occupied the second position in the internet poker traffic across the world. It then slipped down to rank four after the relaunch of the Full Tilt Poker on November 6. After this, PartyPoker’s player traffic increased to 45 percent. Only time can tell us if PartyPoker can maintain its position in the long run.