Merge Poker Sites and Poker Network

The Merge Gaming Network is one of the few US poker networks operating out of 30+ different sites. They provide one of the most unique and highly sophisticated software platforms for US players with multiple features not available on any other poker network. The Merge Gaming poker rooms are legally licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, audited by TST and all transactions to and from the site are secured by Thawte. The Merge software is available on over 24+ different poker rooms; however Carbon Poker and RPM Poker continue to lead the pack in terms of offering attractive incentives and great promotions for their regular players.

All Merge Gaming poker sites accept US players and are one of the few networks to support multiple payment processors that accept US poker deposits. In fact, Merge sites generally offer players additional incentives when you choose one of the preferred payment options such as a 15% cash bonus on top of your regular deposit bonus when you use eWalletXpress for poker deposits.

The Merge Gaming Network is a top destination for American poker players. They have been for several years now. I remember playing on their site when I first got my start online. I played their freerolls like clockwork – one at 8am, 12pm, 4am and 8pm.

In addition to their freerolls, the Merge network is known for their VIP programs, where players can earn as much as 40% of their money back in rake spent. Their software, complete with casino side games, bad beat bonuses, emoticons and other features, are popular as well. Finally, most players, including myself, know them for their flagship site – Carbon Poker.

If you have yet to check out a Merge Gaming site, I highly encourage you to do so. They’ve scaled back on the number of partners or ‘skins’ on their network, which to me means more discretion is taken, resulting in a safer gaming environment for all of us. When combined with their sportsbook and casino (at some poker sites) you’re sure to have a good time.

Background: Who is the Merge Gaming Network?

Not a ton of information is available about their network. I do know that they got their start in 2004. At that time they were known as Then they started Merge and shortly thereafter their flagship site, Carbon Poker, was launched.

At one point there was more than 60 different sites on their network. Most were small and not worth playing at. Others, like Reefer Poker and FeltStars, ripped players off.

They had (and currently have) solid partners too. In 2010 they added PlayersOnly and, both brining sportsbetting and casino games to the table. This gave recreational players the opportunity to have a larger variety to choose from, and grinders the opportunity to play against more recreational (fishy) players.

In despite of this, I felt that Merge and more specifically, Carbon Poker, was always a 2nd tier room. They were good, but they were clearly behind the likes of PokerStars and Full Tilt. That is, until April 2011.

Once Black Friday hit Merge got bombarded with signups. They grew so fast that at one point they had to stop accepting registrations. They couldn’t keep up with the demand, especially the deposits/withdrawals.

Things have calmed down as of late. They’ve opened up registration again, and currently accept American players with the exception of players from Washington, New York, Kentucky, Louisiana, etc. Anywhere online poker is illegal.

Software: What to Expect From Merge Gaming Sites

The software for all Merge Gaming sites are available through a download for both PCs and Macs. There isn’t a regular mobile option offered, although at one time I did see one in beta testing at Carbon Poker.

In terms of features, you’ll find the standard things available elsewhere. Things like 4-color decks, note taking, mult-tabling, resizing and background options.

Where their software is different is in how it looks. It has more of a video game like quality to it. The colors are darker, deeper and richer. Not flat or sterile looking, like many other sites.

Merge is also known for features you won’t find elsewhere. Things like:

  • Quick Start – This is a filter where you put in the games and stakes you want to play and it finds you a table/seat.
  • Rabbit Hunt – Once the hand is done, and you click this option, the dealer will show you the cards that would’ve came on the flop/turn/river if you would’ve continued playing.
  • Expose 1 Card – Show your opponent one of your cards when you fold.
  • Emoticons – These are like the icons that on your phone or IM chat. The network has also created semi-naughty ones that you can figure out with a Google search.
  • Deal It Twice – Just like the pros, you too can agree to run the flop/turn/river twice.

The network is also known for their side casino games and bad beat jackpots.

Competition: How Does Merge Gaming Compare?

Here is how the network stacks up against their competition.

  • Games – Compared to Bovada and Revolution, Merge has the most games by a landslide. However, there isn’t consistent traffic to all games, so I’m not sure how big a brag this really is. They do run the most real money freerolls, though.
  • Software – They have features like expose 1 card, deal it twice and emoticons – all features you won’t find elsewhere.
  • Traffic – They are 3rd in the US and 23rd overall with an average of 437 cash game players and a 24 hour peak of 858.
  • Promotions – That depends on what site in the network you’re looking at. I would say most sites are average in terms of deposit bonuses, with the exception of Carbon Poker. Theirs is $5,000. The Merge Network has an excellent VIP program, too, where you can get up to 40% of your cash back.

The bottom line is that Merge is an average to above average network. They excel in terms of their VIP program, freerolls and game variety, but are average in terms of traffic and other promos.

They are the best American site for grinders, too.

Black and White: What is Best & Worst Thing About Merge Gaming?

The best thing about the sites on the Merge Network is the variety of games. You can play games like badugi, 5 card draw and HORSE, whereas the other sites only offer holdem and omaha. Combine this with their casino side games, sportsbook and casino, and you have a lot of options for what to do.

The worst thing about the Merge Network is that they don’t accept players from all 50 states. Players in these states are limited as in, and in some cases, have no other options than sketchy rooms. That said, it’s hard enough for networks like Merge to handle banking for the US, let alone the states that deem online poker illegal. So it’s probably for the best.