The iPoker Network made the decision to eliminate its two-tier or split network format earlier this week, allowing players from all the network skins to play and compete against one another in the same pool rather than dividing them into Tier 1 and Tier 2.
That network split lasted almost three years and was originally implemented to encourage (or force) some network skins that were not pulling their weight by attracting new recreational players to do so. Those skins were relegated to Tier 2, with the opportunity to move up in class to Tier 1 by meeting a particular quota regarding new player signups and rake.
Tier 1 skins were attracting enough new players through positive marketing efforts and were within the network’s circle of trust, so to speak. A number of the Tier 2 skins were said to be more interested in poaching players from other skins via generous rakeback deals rather than attempting to attract new players to the network.
When iPoker divided the network in September 2012, cash game player traffic as tabulated by PokerScout.com stood at just under 3,000. Glancing at player traffic totals on August 13, 2015 we find the iPoker Network with a seven-day average of 1,300 cash game players.
While the online poker industry as a whole has seen a decrease in player traffic, the drop of some 55% in a span of three years at the iPoker Network is a bit much. At the time the two-tier “experiment” was implemented, the split seemed a rather odd way to operate a poker network. It still seems rather odd and there is little doubt that it failed to accomplish its intended goal.
As of August 11, there are no longer two tiers at iPoker. Instead, the network seems to be relying instead on its Source Based Rake (SBR) system that is designed to allocate revenue to skins based on a formula that favors net-depositing or recreational players. Under SBR, grinders are still valued, but not as much as the casual players who tend not to cashout anywhere near as frequently as the online pros.
Jury still out on SBR
The SBR system was implemented in February and may be part of the reason why player traffic has tumbled at iPoker. Grinders may have moved on to other poker rooms outside of iPoker where they are appreciated and valued more.
However, those same grinders may find themselves moving on to one poker site after another in due course as the online poker industry continues favoring recreational players. We have seen Full Tilt shift its focus toward casual players in recent weeks and more poker sites may eventually follow suit.
The iPoker Network is planning a new software roll out that is said to be more friendly toward recreational players, according to PokerStrategy. Beta testing of the new software is already underway. Also underway are promotions geared toward casual players such as €100,000 Depositor Freerolls.