In just one week the Merge Gaming Network that hosts poker rooms like Carbon Poker, Walker Poker and Oddsmaker Poker has seen another 12% bump in player traffic. While much of this can be attributed to the migration of Cake Poker Network rooms to Merge, but this type of growth is still quite remarkable. With the April 15th addition of Sportsbook Poker and Players Only, Merge has now leapt in front of several other poker networks and appears to be rising fast.
Carbon Poker Seeing Spike in Traffic and Fish
The flagship room on the Merge Network, Carbon Poker, is seeing the benefit of the new network additions from a few weeks ago. In this month alone Carbon has topped its 6 month traffic by tripling its average ring game cash players from 200 to about 600, this isn't even counting MTT players. It's easy to assume that the jump is due to the additional rooms coming over from the Cake Network, but rather than there being a sudden jump and then plateau in traffic to Carbon, there appears to be a major spike that has yet to stop.
While Carbon/Merge expected to see growth they did not foresee this much upward strength on every level of the network. To go along with the increase in player traffic Merge has also increased its tournament guaranteed money payouts to help bring in those players that normally flock to bigger rooms for bigger prize pools. It's hard to say if these prize pool changes have been what have kept the network traffic rising, but it most likely doesn't hurt.
As a possible added bonus to Merge is the influx of ripe fish that came over from the sportsbook poker rooms. Cake was well known for hosting a solid number of unseasoned players due to the sportsbook, so this knowledge may in fact be what's helping keep the traffic numbers up moving in the positive direction. Once veteran players see the value in moving towards Merge there could be a continued push in the upward for the Merge Network.
Cake Poker Network's Decline
The Cake Poker Network has understandably seen a decrease in overall traffic since the loss of Sportsbook Poker and Players Only, but in the last week the pain appears to have began waning. It's once 2,000 player average has been summarily hit by the loss and now sits around 1,300 for ring games.
In all Cake has seen a drop of 30% and in the same period Merge has seen growth of 166%. No small feat for a smaller network. I'm not going to speculate that these trends will continue, but for now there seems to be a sizeable change in the mid-level U.S. friendly poker networks. In all Cake has more to lose and Merge more to gain. Keep in mind that online poker traffic, according to PokerScout, has risen 13% annually, so any loses in network traffic shows a loss of the brand, not the industry. It will be interesting to see what the rest of 2010 has in store for these two networks with the UIGEA coming into official effect on June 1st.
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