The Party Poker Network moved up to number two today in terms of cash game traffic. Traffic was up about 30% over the previous day and previous Wednesday. This was due to the migration of players from bwin to the Party Poker Network. The Ongame Network lost about 30% of their traffic with the loss of bwin.
This migration had been expected for the past 18 months. Party Gaming and bwin completed their merger in the summer of 2011. The Ongame Network was owned by bwin and was immediately described as a surplus asset of the merger. That is because the Party Poker Network was much larger than Ongame, especially considering bwin was only a fraction of the Ongame Network’s traffic.
The Ongame Network was purchased by Amaya Gaming Group. The sale closed on November 2, 2012.
According to Pokerscout, Party Poker had been peaking around 4500-5000 cash game players over the past few weeks. The additional bwin players and the buzz created from the merger made the peak number of cash game players 6523 on Wednesday. Full Tilt Poker, whose traffic has been sliding ever since its reopening, peaked at 5982 players today. That number is even within 1000 players of the iPoker Network so a continued slide may even take Full Tilt Poker down to fourth place.
The Pokerscout Twitter account speculated that there was “lots of excitement among players which will taper off post merge”. While Party Poker’s traffic may decline some post merger, the fact remains that Full Tilt Poker has lost nearly two-thirds of its peak traffic over the past six weeks. Party Poker and bwin could easily take the number two spot away from Full Tilt Poker permanently if they cannot figure out how to stop the bleeding of hundreds of poker players each week from their cash games.
Party Network Issues Since Merger
The merger has created several problems for players. Players that play on bwin and had points stored have taken a huge loss on the points that have been converted to Party Points. Many players are complaining about crashes and connection issues. One player has a very disturbing issue. A table was not popping up as he multi tabled and the software was calling every bet without the player knowing it. Here is an example of the hand histories involved in the software allegedly auto calling every bet. As you see from the hand histories, even the biggest fish folds in these situations.
Amaya Gaming Group and SHFL Ink Deal
The migration of bwin players to the Party Poker Network is not the only news coming out of Ongame this week. Amaya Gaming Group and SHFL, the new name for Shuffle Master, have come to terms to offer the Ongame Network software to U.S. players. The deal requires SHFL to pay Amaya Gaming $2 million upfront. The software would then go to testing in Nevada and potentially used for play money games elsewhere in the United States. Amaya Gaming would receive up to $8 million more for the use of their software in the U.S. depending on the number and size of states that regulate online poker. This agreement is valid for ten years. SHFL had the Ongame Network under contract at one time but backed out.
Finding an established online poker platform was imperative for SHFL. While they were the first company to receive a Nevada interactive gaming license, they did not have any software to offer potential operators. They now have software that can be submitted to Nevada online poker regulators for testing.
Nevada online poker is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2013 and no later than the end of the second quarter of 2013 in Nevada. Thia agreement gives SHFL the ability to get involved in the early days of the evolving U.S. online poker market.
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