Lock Poker, the owners of the Revolution Gaming Network, a poker network that comprises dozens of sites have decided to segregate a large number of their Omaha, and Texas Hold’em ring games.
As reported earlier in the week by Flushdraw.com, Lock Poker made no announcement to players before making the change earlier this month. Members at Two Plus Two Forum finally figured out the reason for the lack of recent traffic on the network’s skins. We are not sure if Revolution Network skins were notified of the change by Lock Poker management.
What This Means
Lock Poker has effectively ring-fenced all middle and high stakes ring game action to their tables. Players who have accounts at many popular skins such as Cake Poker, Juicy Stakes, and Intertops are now playing on separate tables (without Lock’s player base) at stakes $1/$2 and above. These changes affect both Omaha and Hold’em tables and restrict Limit Hold’em games, as well.
A move like this is unprecedented in the online poker industry. There has been ring fencing on many poker networks throughout the years, but nothing anywhere near this expansive. This immediately cuts traffic down drastically across all Revolution Network sites (including Lock Poker) but keeps Lock’s players from losing money to players on other skins.
The Fault of Grinders
Lock Poker has cited concerns for their poker ecosystem as a justification for these changes. Apparently, grinders on other skins have been winning too much from Lock Poker’s players and not keeping the money in Lock’s revenue pipeline. With these changes, Lock has now eliminated the chance (at middle to high stakes cash games) that a player from another skin will take a cut out of their revenue by winning money off Lock’s player base.
While a steady stream of both fish and grinders are essential to a network’s success. Lock’s argument is flawed based on the profile of their players. Other skins such as Intertops and Cake Poker are sites that cater to sports bettors and more recreational players. In fact, it is generally accepted that Lock Poker leads the Revolution Gaming Network in grinders or semi-professional players, which calls into question management’s motives with this move.
Should Players Be Worried?
In a word, YES. A network owner privatizing the vast majority of their middle and high stakes action sounds like a site in desperate need of revenue. Furthermore, the lack of announcement to players is even more disturbing. Thankfully, forum members found out rather quickly, but this could have easily not been the case. The change also wipes out a large part of the liquidity of their cash games, something that affects not only skins other than Lock but Lock’s players, as well. It has angered players across the board and decreased the availability of cash games on the network no matter what site or skin players are using.
The move is desperate, and Lock might be, as well. Rumors have surfaced that they cannot afford to pay their skins. On top of that they have a host of other problems. Since Lock Poker bought the Cake Network in mid-2012 and rebranded it as Revolution Gaming, payouts have gotten slower and slower. Industry experts and players alike were hopeful of a new network available for US players and urged players to be patient with support and payout delays as Revolution Gaming got off the ground.
However, after nearly eight months of business things are considerably worse off than when the room opened. Lock Poker is taking over a month to pay international players (via e-wallets) and checks are taking up to four months to reach US customers.
Payouts to both international players and those from the US are from far acceptable and considerably worse than the industry standard. International players should be paid within a few days and for lazy operators, possibly a week. The increase payout wait times for non-US players are especially alarming.
Still, US players are feeling the brunt of Lock’s failings. Even in the more restrictive US market, Lock’s competitors have considerably better payout times. Most online rooms servicing US players have improved their payout times over the past few months. Many are getting checks to US players within a month or two, but some are much faster. Intertops, a Revolution skin affected by these changes imposed by Lock are getting checks to players within two weeks.
Withdrawal times sadly are not the only issue affecting Lock. Customer service has been more than frustrating for players as Lock’s support team takes weeks to respond to emails. They seem to be constantly overloaded with support tickets, as well as appearing to be severely understaffed. Players are not only receiving their payouts extremely late, but have essentially no voice with support or management.
Issues with poker affiliates have also plagued Lock’s reputation. Lock has reportedly stiffed affiliates with unwarranted charge backs and kicked them out of the program for complaining on poker forums.
Is Lock Poker a Sinking Ship?
It is hard to say for sure what Lock’s finances are in, but the situation does not look great.. This recent move screams of desperation and Lock cannot seem to pay players on time unlike many of the skins on their own network. Also, the lack of an announcement from Lock regarding the segregation change is scary. Lock Poker has now alienated other network skins, who may now decide to jump ship to another network hurting Revolution Gaming.
It looks for now that Lock Poker seems to be in trouble. Of course, no one really knows the goings-on of Lock’s operation besides management. Hopefully the situation at Lock Poker turns around and US players won’t lose another place to play online.
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