Merge Network stops new US signups

Merge Poker closed to American Players

Merge Poker closed to American Players

All poker rooms on the Merge Gaming Network stopped taking new players from the United States of America, starting from June 3rd, 2011.

This move was to allow this poker network to catch up with the large influx of new American players that their poker rooms received in the wake of Black Friday. The number of player payment transactions almost doubled for this networks payment processors in those few hectic weeks and this had put pressure on the whole network.

The ‘Black Friday’ event was the opening of a case against the three largest poker networks that had continued to accept players from America in the wake of the 2006 UIEGA act by the US authorities, resulting in chaos in the online poker world. Poker Stars, FullTilt and the two rooms on the Cereus network were named in an indictment that covered illegal gambling and money laundering amongst other crimes.

Poker Stars had become the worlds number one online poker site primarily by staying open in the US after the events of 2006 when the then leading online poker rooms withdrew from that market. At that time in 2006 Party Poker was the worlds largest online poker room. With their withdrawal, any room that continued to accept Americans was of course going to grow and grow. And that is what Poker Stars, and Full Tilt, did.

After operating in this market for five years, Stars became the largest site, with FullTilt the second largest.

After the above indictment was opened, and became public, both those rooms and the two rooms in the Cereus Network, came under pressure immediately. Stars and Tilt both withdrew from America within a few days, while the Cereus rooms, Absolute and UltimateBet, took a while to consider their position, and then decided to try to continue operating. That attempt by those two rooms resulted in financial disaster for them, and at the time of writing the court cases involving this network are still going on.

The Merge Network Poker rooms were not named in this case, either because their player numbers were too small for the authorities to be bothered with, or because said authorities did not do their research properly. Either way, that left Merge as the only viable option of newly displaced American players.

As they continued to accept these playes, the rush to their rooms was extraordinary, and ultimately put enormous pressure on their payment processing operations, which, due to being unlicenced in teh US, were by their nature complex.

After a few weeks of intense scrambling to faciliate this new traffic, the Merge Network announced a temporary shutdown in relation to new American players. They annunced that it was only temporary, that they just needed some time to get their payment methods working smoothly and reduce the backlog of payments that needed to be processed, and indeed it was only temporary, but with a twist.

Some Merge Poker Rooms Open Again

Some Merge Poker Rooms Open Again

After a few weeks had passed, it was announced that some rooms on the network would reopen their virtual doors to these homeless players, but that some rooms would not.

Merge rooms that did open their doors to US players included Carbon Poker, Aced Poker and PDC Poker. One smaller room, Poker Host, also started to accept them again.

What happened nexxt was rather anticlimatic, in that the rush seemed to be over, with many American players either deciding to give up playing online poker entirely, or, for the professional players amoong them, relocating to a more favorable country, such as Canada. The result of that was a massive slow down in the growth of the Merge network rooms. What should have been the beginning of the rise to the top position on the popular poker room charts for the leading Merge room, Carbon, seemed to fizzle out, leaving them slightly bigger in terms of players numbers, but no where near the most popular online poker site, with Poker stars remaining at the number one position even without all those Americans.

Since then, the rooms at Aced and PDC poker have both closed down, with all players and their funds being transferred to the Carbon Poker room.

Shortly after all that transpired, the old Full Tilt poker room came under serious pressure, as it turned out that they had been operating using player funds, and relying on their players not to cash out too much money at one time in order to stay afloat. With the sudden rush of players looking to withdraw their money, this rooms finances came unstuck, ultimately causing that roomto shut down overnight, leaving many playres without access to their bankrolls.

After a long wait, that situation was resolved to the satisfaction of most players, with Poker Stars stepping in and doing a deal with the US DOJ to take over the old Tilt room,a nd make good on all that rooms players bankrolls, and other debts. Stars had managed to weather the storm by operating correctly with their player funds, so when the mad rush for withdrawals hit them, they actually had their players money available to pay out. Kudos to Stars.

They then decided to relaunch the Tilt room as its own brand, rather than amalgamating it into their own room, so now both sites are operating independently of each other, even though they are owned by the same parent company. Neither room takes Americans now though.

Even with all that happening, Carbon was unable to take advantage of the situation, and barely moved up one place on the charts, from seventeen to sixteen. When you realise that the newly launched Tilt room debuted in the top ten most popular sites, you can see how little Carbon, or indeed Merge, benefitted from all of this.

The bottom line is that some Merge rooms do still accept players from America, but it seems that most American players choose not to play there.

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