Earlier this year the iPoker network announced that they would split the network into two. The split took place yesterday but it has not happened exactly how people expected it to.  The idea behind creating an iPoker 1 and an iPoker 2 has a lot of merit but only time will tell if it helps to revitalize this network.

The iPoker network consists of over 30 different online poker sites, known as skins. The largest skins on this network are partially splitting away from the others in an effort to improve the overall customer experience. By splintering from the small skins they hope to create a more profitable environment at their micro and small stakes ring tables. This split will also provide an incentive to the smaller skins to bring in more traffic. iPoker is the largest online poker network and all of the skins share the title for the second largest poker site.

The early statements indicated that the larger skins like bet365 Poker, Titan Poker and Paddy Power Poker would create new cash game tables that were only accessible from the skins that comprise the iPoker 2 network (iP2). These iP2 cash tables would range from the $.01/$.02 to the $2/$4 stake levels.  Instead of creating new tables they seem to have used existing tables.

If you compare the ring table action at one of the large brands with that of one of the smaller skins you will notice that some of the micro and small stakes tables have the same name but different players. The $.02/$.04 NL Hold’em table Hillston on Titan Poker has nine different players than the same table at Dafa Poker, an iP1 skin. Tournaments and sitngos appear to be unaffected with the exception of heads-up sitngos.

iPoker tables

Why Has The iPoker Network Split?

There are three major reasons for splitting the network. The large brands like Titan Poker, Bet365, Paddy Power and William Hill each offer other online services like sports betting and casino gambling. These poker rooms generally attract many inexperienced players from their sports books to the poker room.  By segregating their higher value tables from the smaller skins they are essentially separating the fish from the sharks. Experienced players will still be able to find soft action but this move will create a friendlier environment on the iPoker 2 network.  The split also provides the smaller skins with an incentive to drive more traffic to the network. To qualify for the iPoker 2 network a skin will need to have an active player roster of 6,000 players.  To maintain their place they would also need to bring in 850 new players monthly. There is also a massive gap between the larger skins and the rest. iPoker recently reported that their top 15 skins were responsible for 79% of their revenue during the first six months of 2012.

The previous year the percentage was 72% so the gap between the flagship skins and the rest is growing quickly.  Revenue was down 9% during the first half of 2012 so iPoker needed to do something about player retention. The network split is just one of the big news stories coming from iPoker. Everest Poker will be joining the iPoker network soon. Everest Poker has been online since 2004 and they have a large following in France. Everestpoker.fr is the third-largest poker room in France while iPoker.fr is virtually dead. The main Everest Poker room will increase iPoker’s traffic by around 20% so they will most likely join iPoker 2.

How Does The iPoker Split Affect Bet365 Poker?

Bet365 Poker is certainly one of the top-tier skins on the iPoker network so they easily meet the requirements for the recreational player pool on iP2. Bet365 is a powerhouse in Europe for virtually every form of online gambling. This includes sports betting, casino gambling and bingo. The common consensus at the major poker forums says that Bet365 Poker brings in more recreational players than any other skin.

The iPoker split may not have that big of an impact on Bet365 Poker. They did something similar recently when they launched their Premium tables. These ring table and sitngo games are exclusively available to Bet365 customers.  They still offer many regular tables but by restricting network access to a group of tables they are essentially creating a recreational zone, which is exactly what the iPoker network hopes to accomplish with this split. I would imagine that the network wants access to these tables but as far as I can tell they are still off-limits to non-Bet365 customers. I do not expect to see any major changes at Bet365 Poker in regards to traffic; at least until Everest Poker’s player pool is added.