Merge Gaming Makes All Sit and Go Lobbies Anonymous

Merge Gaming Official LogoMerge Gaming released an update this week that removed all registered player names from the sit and go lobby.  The network became the first one to do so without making all games anonymous.

This received a mixed reaction from players.  Some commented about the lack of action already found at Merge Gaming.  Other players agreed that this was a great feature that will help reduce “bumhunting”, a practice where experienced players refuse to play any opponent perceived to be equal or superior to them.

Bumhunting has been a problem in the online poker industry, especially in heads up cash games and sit and gos.  Some sites have moved heads up games to a fast-fold or anonymous format.  Bovada removed usernames from all games.

This issue should fix heads up sit and gos. Recreational players are few and far between in these anyway. Experienced players will be more likely to click the registration button with the hope that a better opponent is not waiting behind the secret door.  The lack of traffic at 6, 9 and 10-handed tables likely makes this change less effective at those tables.

The policy makes Merge Gaming online poker games more comparable to live ones.  Brick and mortar poker rooms do not often show a list of all players that have entered an event. This requires a player to decide whether to enter a tournament without any preview of the field. This is now what Merge sit and go players will have to do, too.

Carbon Poker opened up about the reasons it chose to go this direction.  In a statement posted on the site’s blog, Carbon Poker said, “bumhunters have been ruining things for everybody, taking game selection to the extreme” and followed “With recreational online players becoming fewer and fewer, as their deposits are quickly bled dry by bumhunting, our network has decided to experiment with anonymous sit and go registration”.

The blog post mentions other sites have gone completely anonymous, referring to Bovada, the largest U.S.-facing site.  The column goes on to say the network has not done this “yet”, leaving players to speculate if that is the next step.

In an interesting move, Carbon Poker removed the blog post.  It is quoted here and a Google cache is here until the page is spidered again.

This seems like a great move for Merge Gaming.  The network has been shrinking in size as skins have left.  Poker Host moving to the Equity Poker Network in April will continue that decline.  The network is clearly aiming to draw more recreational players from its sports products and appears to be no longer actively marketing grinders.  With that business model in mind, this is a step in the right direction.

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