For the first time in two months, the Microgaming network climbed back into the top ten of PokerScout’s traffic rankings last week. The network, which hosts skins such as StanJames and Ladbrokes, saw a seven-day average of more than 1600 cash game players, a 33% increase over the last reported period.
Why the spike? It could be down to increased promotions, or a short-term, cyclical rise in traffic, but Betsafe’s decision to join the network late last month has played a role in the increase. More importantly, however, Microgaming may be beginning to benefit from the iPoker fallout, and is positioning itself to pick up the scraps from the network’s split—which may continue to boost traffic numbers in the subsequent weeks and months.
Lesser iPoker skins like Boyle, Betfred and Genting have been shut out after the network’s split. Their options: band together and cannibalize each other competing for the same player pool; or, branch off and find shelter elsewhere.
Microgaming may benefit from a (admittedly splintered) migration. The network offers a rare combination: soft games and a rewarding VIP system for serious players. Its true value calculation, which is used to calculate rake and operator commissions, is attractive, too. The system allocates player rake to operators based upon volume, activity and win/loss ratios as opposed to the conventional volume-only method.
Other networks aren’t as attractive for the second tier iPoker skins. Ongame, for example, is teetering towards death, while 888 offers too slim of a percentage to be appealing. Bwin.party is not an option. The newly merged company is not offering good commercial deals “because they’ve seen the limiting factors of poker networks,” according to a source close to the company. “They offer deals, but they’re not setup in the same way; as a result, they are not as competitive.”
These networks are not viable options. Microgaming, however, is. They (and other networks) will be waiting to pick up the scraps and boost traffic if the lesser iPoker skins—which still boast valuable brands—chose not to band together. As last week’s increase highlights, Microgaming is gaining traction and will look to continue its climb up the traffic rankings. Picking up the iPoker scraps may be the best way for the network to do that.