On June 1, 2012, the world of online poker welcomed a new powerhouse to the table—Revolution Gaming Network (RGN). The entity came about as the direct result of a corporate acquisition. In May, Lock Poker purchased and rebranded what was formerly the Cake Poker Network, while at the same time announcing its departure from the Merge Gaming Network, to which Lock reportedly contributed about 40 percent of the poker traffic.
Lock Poker’s abandonment of Merge Gaming followed a long history of infighting and controversy, leading many to believe that the breakup had been inevitable. But the transition of a major online poker provider from one network to another is no small matter. It required a massive software conversion as well as the acceptance of the move by Lock Poker’s loyal players, many of whom are based in the United States and since Black Friday have found themselves with a dwindling number of playing options online.
A Fast First Month
During the first few days of the Revolution Gaming Network launch, no major glitches were reported, just minor inconveniences. Lock Poker players were prompted at log-on to re-download their software, but existing email addresses and passwords remained unchanged. Many commented positively on the site’s new feel, with Lock colors and the Cake interface.
The only recurring complaint heard among players was the need to choose a new user name. Otherwise, Lock Poker representatives reported that the changeover had gone “perfectly,” with no major hiccups. However, the same could not be said over at Merge Gaming.
To assuage the loss of business and encourage network patrons to remain loyal, Merge decided to introduce a software upgrade of its own, coinciding with the RGN debut. The move backfired when several hours of downtime were required to install the upgrade, and then the entire network had to be taken down later in the day to work out substantial issues reported by players. This caused one analyst to observe, “The new software upgrade has had so many bugs and glitches that players are already choosing Revolution’s software over Merge’s.”
Sure enough, within two weeks, industry watchdog PokerScout saw RGN jump to ninth position as the highest trafficked poker site/network in the world and number one in the U.S. market. Peak cash-game traffic approached 2,000 players, with a seven-day average of 1,180. By comparison, Merge dropped from a high of number seven on the list to number eleven, with peak traffic of 1,890 players and a seven-day average of 1,080.
What’s Next for RNG
It’s not yet clear whether Revolution Gaming can sustain this momentum, but there are several factors that could contribute to ongoing success. One will be the much anticipated unveiling of RGN’s own software upgrade, expected in the months immediately ahead. Should that go smoothly, it could be the trigger that attracts new customers.
Another factor is the possible defection of uneasy Merge users, who are keeping a close eye on reports of a security breach. Since early June, suspicious charges have shown up on players’ bank statements, supposedly the work of a rogue credit card processor accessing Merge accounts. At Lock Poker, real-money balances are managed by the provider’s own stand-alone cashier.
Currently, Lock Poker is the most active “skin” being used by players on the Revolution Gaming Network, but the Europe-based poker room is certainly not alone. Cake Poker, Red Star, Intertops and PowerPoker are just a few of the more than 50 partners that make up the network. RGN is actively soliciting additional sites to join them, too.
The new network will certainly be making use of star power as well. In the past, Cake Poker has had associations with Poker Hall of Famer T.J. Cloutier, as well as perennial WSOP pros Barbara Enright and Marsha Waggoner. The Lock Pro Elite Team right now consists of Annette Obrestad, Melanie Weisner, Leo Margets and Chris Moorman, among many others who can assist in promoting traffic.