Having looked at the New World Order and the premiership of the poker sites and networks since Black Friday we now look at the 2nd tier or tear as it may better be described. It’s a bit of a sorry tale as there are some fallen giants who that remember the good old days when they were in the top division.
These poker sites and networks may not be like the big boys, they lack the larger player liquidity and some lack the software whistles and bells but you may find you like playing on these sites and networks more. It’s a bit like your friendly local or that special restaurant that looks average from the outside but the food and service is to your taste.
The promotions and rake races will give you value for money. Also you do not have to beat the entire world to cash in a rake race or book holiday off work to get ITM for a poker tournament. You can play and finish a non turbo tournament in 3 or 4 hours.
You also seem to find crazier cash game players on these smaller networks and sites. If a player is going to play poker and chooses one of these sites and networks then there is a good chance they are not a shark who is only interested in the liquidity and being able to multitable 20 tables at a time.
It is worth having a look at these sites and networks as long as you are not expecting to find massive liquidity. Then again they can not all be Full Tilt and thank the poker Gods for that.
We have Microgaming and Labdrokes to really thank for all the Skandi aggressive players in the game. A few years ago every Skandi’s first online account and site was the standalone Ladbrokes (powered by the Microgaming poker software) or another Prima Poker skin. The problem was Microgaming understandably concentrated on their Casino product and Prima Poker lost liquidity and playability at the most crucial time, around 2006.
Since then Microgaming has been losing players and struggling but that now looks to have been changed. Their poker tournament schedule is one of the most varied and best in the business but its guarantees do not and can not match PokerStars and other larger networks.
Now that Ladbrokes has joined the Micrograming Network and money is being invested into the Network they look to be slowly rising up the ranks again. There are rumours of industry changing changes to the network coming soon and then, maybe like a Pheonix rising from the ashes, the network may start to soar up the list of largest networks. Then again knowing Microgaming they will do something very silly and stop that happening. One to watch with interest.
The other network that Skandis would have played on at the start when it was the old B2B or 24hnetwork. A similar story to Microgaming and now looking to partly rebrand themselves with the launch of igame (a partnership between 24h and NoiQ).
Entraction offer very high standard rakeback deals for players so is interesting to rakeback grinders.
The site that slaps the USA govt in the face at every opportunity. They have not been DOJ’d yet and think and say in public it won’t happen but can you be so brazen and not be a target? Maybe they are right and only time will tell. When the American market opens you can not see them being allowed in the market. Will that signal the end of any chance for further growth and getting promoted to the higher league?
Bodog know what they are doing but will the ultimate gamble not pay off? Their player numbers have nearly double since Black Friday and it is a good alternative place to play with sexy software and lots of fish. As they accept US players you also get to play against them again, which is a welcome relief from Skandis.
Merge had a huge surge after Black Friday but are now exactly where they started before it. Player numbers doubled and it was crazy times for all those working there. What happened? Who really knows but rumours of delayed payment processing may have frustrated and scared those US poker players who had already lost funds in Full Tilt or temporarily in PokerStars.
What does the future hold for Merge? Skins on the network insist that the DOJ is not a concern of theirs and they are looking forward to the US market opening up any time very,very soon … Maybe they are correct, or, maybe they have blinkers on and are only seeing what they want or have to need to see.
Did Merge have it in their hand then dropped the ball or was it never theirs in reality but a little gift? What will happen to them in the future? If you can not capitalize on the fact you are one of the only networks taking in American players then what chance do you have? If you are a American then you have little choice where to play online poker but perhaps it would be wisest for non US players to avoid them or at least keep your bankroll at a low level.
IPN (Boss Media)
One of the oldest networks that reminds you of a grand old hotel that is now frayed around the edges. It shows with the software, while quick and smooth is basic. No way to quickly view your hand history from a button on the table screen for example. IPN numbers have continued to drop for years and in the last 6 months they lost another third of their player numbers. That is not good news when there was the largest player land grab in history.
What is the future for IPN? They are going to struggle to keep the names they have and especially to attract new desperately needed sites. Especially the bigger bookmakers and casino who bring the vital fish for the rakeback sharks.
IPN is a decent medium network if you want to play NLH and PLO. Due to their European sites, especially the Bulgarian and Spanish players, they have a decent amount of 5 Card Draw games if you fancy a change of pace.