In a move that has shocked players and industry observers alike, the Merge Gaming Network has cancelled the LOCKOPS online poker tournament series scheduled to be hosted by Lock Poker next month.
Without providing a reason why, Merge suddenly pulled the plug on the 33 scheduled tournaments featuring a guaranteed prize pool of over $2 million and a Grand Finale Main Event that would have brought players finishing in-the-money over $800,000. Upon accessing the Lock Poker site, players will immediately see this announcement: “We are sad to announce that Merge has officially cancelled LOCKOPS and revoked previous approval given to Lock to run the series.”
Lock Poker has established itself as one of the top skins on the Merge Network, sharing player pools with other network skins. LOCKOPS was scheduled as an exclusive tournament series only for Lock Players and was not available to players on other Merge skins. Merge players are free to sign up at as many skins on the network as they choose. It is widely believed that Merge terminated the event due to protests from the other skins who would have lost a substantial number of players that wished to participate in LOCKOPS.
A further cause for dissension is the fact that Lock Poker recently set up its own cashier cage separate from the Merge Network in an effort to decrease the slow 3-5 week cashout period customarily seen for Merge players withdrawing funds. Lock Poker has aggressively marketed its site and has seemingly found a very loyal customer base. Merge Network honchos are without a doubt concerned that the recent actions by Lock Poker in establishing their own cashier and promoting a tournament series that excludes the players from other skins on the network is not good for the network as a whole.
It is not clear what steps Lock Poker will take as a result of the cancelled event that was scheduled to run from May 6th to May 20th, with each event hosted by a Lock Poker Pro and featuring bounties on the heads of various players among Lock’s stable of pros. But an email sent by Lock Poker to their affiliates clearly shows their disappointment by saying, “We have all been working very hard to put this together for our players and our marketing partners and are gutted to have it pulled out from under us at this late stage.”
Kudos to Lock Poker for attempting to improve cashout times for their players. Five weeks is indeed too long to wait to be paid. When one skin in a network stands out above the rest, of course players will take notice and flock to that skin. Perhaps Merge should make an effort to speed up the cashout process throughout the network and other skins would not be forced to take it upon themselves to have to do it.