Merge Gaming contacted their skins today with their decision to stop allowing player to player transfers on November 1st. The network also stopped allowing skins to make transfers to players effective immediately. The move was announced on the Two Plus Two forum by the forum’s Black Chip Poker representative.
There has been rampant speculation about what caused this change. One thought is that this is a way for Merge Gaming to better police illegal promotions on the network. Another angle is that Merge Gaming may be trying to stop the trading of chips between players. Some players outside the U.S. are making a living buying Merge Gaming chips from American players.
Quick Update – October 28th, 2012 @ 4:37 am EST
Carbon Poker’s main representative at 2+2 has made a statement regarding the recent P2P news on Merge. “CarbonRyan” admits that player transfers on Carbon have been temporarily suspended and limits reduced in lieu of Merge’s rule implementation on November 1st. However, he goes on to imply (I say this loosely) that while “transfers will be suspended from Nov 1st across the Network,” Ryan is still “waiting for confirmation on when they will become available again.”
I cannot say with any certainty if this means that Carbon itself will not be affected by the new network changes as it will be launching its own standalone cashier completely independent of Merge in mid-November of 2012. More on this will be updated as the story develops.
Merge Money Traders & The Announcement of Carbon Sports
These players buy Merge Gaming chips from U.S. players at a discount and then cash them out to their international e-Wallet account. The juice before this announcement was about 15%. The traders are now making a 25% vig off of these trades as some U.S. players have panicked. The U.S. players making these trades feel it is better to take a loss than wait for a check.
This may also have to do with the launch of Carbon Sports by Carbon Poker, the largest Merge Gaming skin. The Carbon Poker family will stop using the Merge Gaming cashier and start using a cashier managed by another Merge Gaming skin in the next week. Some have speculated the loss of this liquidity may have something to do with the ending of player to player transfers.
Crackdown on Fraud and Staking Concerns on Merge Skins
Regardless of the reason, these transfers may be unwanted because of the hassle. Transfers require research by the network’s security department. There are still fraudulent transfers that are made regardless of the amount of investigating the security department performs. There is not just a loss of resources spent on investigating the transfers, but also a loss to fraudsters that were able to pull off a scam on the network.
While this may prevent unwanted and potentially fraudulent transfers on the network, it will also cause issues with legitimate players. Many players on Merge Gaming are staked. This means that someone is loaning them money to help get them started or keep them in action. The staked player will be unable to play if they are unable to receive their loan from their staker or unable to pay it back. Players that are currently staked may be forced to transfer their bankroll back to their staker before November 1st, otherwise there will be no way for them to return their money.
There are also many players in the U.S. that are unable to make a deposit. These players currently make trades with other players on the network to get started or replenish their bankroll if they go bust. These players also need to make trades to get their winnings off of the network. They will no longer be able to do so in less than a week.
This is not the first U.S. facing room that has made changes to their transfer policy. Lock Poker, a former Merge Gaming Network skin now on the Revolution Gaming Network, recently lowered their transfer limit to as low as $250 a day and $500 a week. Some players have been able to get their transfer limits moved to $500 or $1000 a day.
Americas Cardroom and True Poker, members of the Winning Poker Network, also dropped their transfer limits to $250 a day and $500 a week. Bovada is also a major player in the U.S. online poker market. However, Bovada has never allowed player to player transfers.
If you plan on making a transfer in the next week I suggest making one as soon as possible. There is certain to be a large volume of requests in the next few days as players prepare for the transfer feature to be removed permanently from the network.