The Merge Poker Network is the 11th biggest poker network and 24th biggest in overall traffic in the world. Merge has up to 3,000 players online during the busiest hours and is the second biggest US-friendly poker network. The Merge Network is based out of Brisbane Australia and used to run all operations there, until they decided to run Carbon Poker separately from the network. Merge is owned by Merge Gaming Ltd.
The Merge Network officially opened in 2007, having Carbon Poker and PokerNordica as the first partners on the network. Carbon Poker was the network’s own skin and was a replica of the Poker.com skin, which had been a standalone site 3 years prior to the network launch. Poker.com opened its own poker room in 2004, using the software that would later become Merge's software.
Merge accepts all players, including American players. The network was opened one year after the American Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and decided to go against the bill and accept American players. With sportsbook.com joining the network in 2010 moving from the Cake Network, the overall player base of Merge grew tremendously overnight. The move made Merge the biggest American friendly poker network, leaving the Cake Network (now Revolution Network) crippled.
Despite the success of the network, rumors were floating around saying that Merge had money problems. Player cash outs became slower than ever, limits for cash outs were put down and player to player transfers were removed. Players were worried and speculating if Merge would soon go under. In 2011 Sportsbook.com took over the network and integrated changes to solve the problems the network had run into earlier.
Sportsbook.com was not very pleased with skins breaking the network rules, by offering high illegal rakeback deals and high affiliate deals. They wanted to have a healthy poker ecology, without too many grinders and winning players. The first major clash took place in May of 2012 when Lock Poker announced they were leaving the network due to "having outgrown Merge".
Lock Poker was not much liked by the other skins on the network, as Lock Poker built their business having grinders, winning players, doing illegal rakeback, high affiliate deals and stealing players from other sites on the network. In May 2012 Lock Poker announced they had purchased the Cake Network, rebranding it "Revolution Network". According to Lock Poker's own estimates, they had a total of 50% of the Merge player pool, making the leave devastating for Merge.
The leave of Lock Poker decreased traffic significantly on Merge, but the partners and network were happy. The games had become softer, there was not the same amount of poaching happening and the skins were able to attract players again.
Since Lock Poker left Merge, Merge has removed most of their partners leaving only a handful left. Merge wants to run a sports book only network, with small recreational player friendly promotions and good games.
Software and Games
The Merge software is provided by Merge Gaming Ltd's own development team. The software was originally purchased in 2004 from an Australian IT company. The software has kept its original look throughout the years, with new features and interfaces being added.
In June 2012, Merge launched the version 6.0 of their software, which is the software still being used on the network.
The latest version of the software made the platform more user-friendly, adding more filter options to easier find the games you want to play, search option and an expanded lobby. With the update, Merge took their software to a new level having all the features and graphical interfaces you could expect from a major network.
Merge's software is available for download for both Mac and Pc's. The software runs smooth on all newer devices and is fast to install.
Merge is known to have a wide variety of different games that players can enjoy. Being an American friendly network, you can find the best games from 02.00 CET and onwards.
Variants of Poker
Merge offers these variants of poker to its players:
- Texas Hold'em
- Omaha / Omaha Hi/Lo
- 5 Card Draw / 5 Card Stud
- HO / HOSE / HORSE / HEROS
- Triple Draw Lowball 2-7
- Triple Draw Lowball A-5
- Mix Games
Merge offers a lot of different games and not just the regular poker variants.
Merge is known for their great tournament schedule, with lots of guaranteed tournaments as well as online poker series such as Poker Maximus. In total, Merge guarantees more than $10 million in tournament prize pools every month, making them one of the best places to play tournaments at.
Merge has a Sunday main event, where they guarantee a prize pool of $100,000 for a $200 buy-in.
Merge also hosts satellite tournaments to live events. Players can qualify for the World Poker Tour (WPT), World Series of Poker (WSOP) and Aussie Millions for as low as $2 via the online satellites.
Merge uses the weighted contributed rake allocation system, meaning that players pay rake according to their contribution to the pot. The weighted contributed system is the most widely used in the industry, almost completely replacing the dealt method. The reason so many players like the weighted contributed system is that it's a more fair system for delegating rakeback / awarding VIP points.
Merge charges 5% rake for all cash game tables and 10% in tournament and sit 'n' go fee.
Merge has for many years been one of the most rewarding networks to play on. With flat rakeback, bonuses, rake races and other promotions, Merge attracted a lot of grinders to play.
The last couple of years, Merge changed all of this and made promotions more suitable for the hobby players. The hobby players are the most important for Merge and by creating promotions for them they have kept good poker ecology.
Merge gives all players the possibility to participate in their VIP rewards system, where players are rewarded between 10 to 35% rakeback depending on the amount of VIP points earned each month.
Besides VIP rewards, players also receive a First Deposit Bonus on Merge and sometimes also Reload Bonuses. The total reward percentage for most players will be around 30-40%, which is not bad.
Security and Fairness
To ensure fair gaming, Merge Network uses a Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG is used to decide the outcome of what hands are dealt to players, as well as to decide which community cards will be shown. Merge Network's RNG is tested and certified by the independent regulatory agency eCogra, which has tested the RNG and found no out of the ordinary algorithm anomalies.