Black Chip Poker has announced that it is leaving the Merge Gaming Network and transitioning to the Winning Poker Network effective Dec. 3.
In a press release issued jointly among Merge, Winning Poker and Black Chip, the trio stated that “all active Black Chip Poker players and their account balances” will be accessible on Tuesday, Dec. 4, following a seamless client upgrade and the closing of said accounts on the Merge Network on Monday, Dec. 3.
Players had a hint that something was amiss earlier in the week when Black Chip and the other Merge skins of Hero Poker and RPM bowed out of the Poker Maximus III tournament series on Merge that the network promotes heavily. Other issues at Merge such as the resignation of Merge CEO Anthony Taylor in September, the halting of player-to-player transfers in early November, the shutdown of skins FeltStars and Bluff Room, perennially slow cashouts, and the recent move of Carbon Poker, Aced and PDC Poker from the Merge cashier to Jazette have put the network in a state of flux. That disarray has been reflected in player traffic, as Merge has tumbled into third place among U.S.-facing networks in PokerScout rankings.
Only a few months ago, Merge was top dog for player traffic among U.S.-friendly poker rooms. In an effort to win back some players, Merge lowered its rake on fixed-limit games in October. However, Americas Cardroom on the Winning Poker Network slashed its rake on limit games just a couple days ago to match that of PokerStars and Merge.
The Winning Poker Network, previously known as the Yatahay Network prior to a rebranding earlier this year, currently sits fifth in player traffic rankings of networks accepting American players. Its seven-day average of cash game players is less than half that of the Merge Network. But with the Winning Network gaining players from the arrival of Black Chip Poker next week, a sizable shift in player liquidity is imminent.
The press release further states that the Winning Poker Network will “take full responsibility for all the current player account balances when Black Chip Poker moves” and that “neither Merge nor the Kahnawake Gaming Commission will have further liability for the Black Chip Poker player accounts transferred to the Winning Poker Network” following the transition.