The iPoker Network’s announcement in July that skins on the network will be split into a two-tier format in September according to guidelines established by Playtech in order to create a healthier poker eco-system will undoubtedly cause some shifting and straddling for position among some of the skins on the network. In advance of the split, two of the network’s top rooms–Titan Poker and CelebPoker–have announced that they will be joining forces and are expected to be top dog in the upper echelon of the network in what is likely to be uncreatively called iPoker 2.
iPoker has devised the split to allow its top performing skins to have access to a top tier that will feature better liquidity and a somewhat more natural base of players and will penalise skins that fail to meet established criteria by being submitted to the lower tier or iPoker 1. It looks as though the lesser tier will be heavily populated with rakeback grinders and will be segregated from the fishier players located on iPoker 2 from whom the grinders tend to make a living.
The split is scheduled to take place September 1 and Playtech has yet to announce which skins will form each tier. But Playtech has announced that the upper-tier skins must maintain a base of players numbered at 6,000 monthly as well as pull in 850 additional players per month. Skins have until the end of August to meet the criteria. It is anticipated that the rooms placed in iPoker 2 will make up roughly 70% of cash game play on the network, according to eGaming Review. Though tournament action will share liquidity among both tiers, the smaller skins that don’t make the cut will be significantly impacted and it is believed that many players who find themselves in the lower class of tiers will simply sign up and play on skins on iPoker 2.
Titan Poker has anchored the Playtech-operated iPoker Network for a number of years and its collaboration with CelebPoker should allow it to continue to do so. Other top-name skins such as William Hill, Poker770, bet365 and Paddy Power Poker are expected to make the cut and be placed in iPoker 2. It is believed that other rooms such as Betfred, Winner Poker and Genting will not meet the goals established by Playtech and will end up residing on the other side of the tracks in iPoker 1. Two skins, Gutshot Poker and Pokerhuis, apparently didn’t appreciate the new mandates ordered by Playtech and chose to leave the network of their own accord. In all likelihood, they won’t be the only skins to do so once the division of tiers is formally announced come September.
The iPoker Network is currently made up of 45 poker rooms. It is the world’s largest network in terms of player traffic according to PokerScout tabulations, trailing only the behemoth known as PokerStars. The third and fourth-ranked poker sites, PartyPoker and 888 Poker, are close behind the iPoker Network and the September Split may cause the rankings to be jostled somewhat once the smoke clears and iPoker skins become aware of their fate.
It is difficult to fathom that a subnetwork would actually be able to thrive on a two-tier system as outlined by Playtech. The smaller poker rooms that cannot meet the player quotas will have to either shack up with other skins on the network or leave entirely.