The existence of online poker
networks is due largely to the benefits afforded both the poker rooms associated with a poker network, and the players who frequent the online poker rooms
attached to a poker network. A poker network supplies customizable, ready-made software to all of the online poker rooms on the network, as well as connecting all of the players on any site within the network in order to provide a more extensive player-base and game selection.
The benefits for online poker rooms who join a poker network are lower overhead and start up costs, coupled with pre-existing player traffic located on the poker network to help generate revenue. This allows the online poker site to grow much faster, giving it a head start in the online poker business.
Players who sign-up with sites connected to an online poker network are allowed the freedom to enjoy the perks of registering at each and every one of the online poker rooms within the poker network. Welcome bonuses, rakebacks, and VIP rewards
may be enjoyed from each poker room that a player signs up with on a single online poker network. In addition, players on a poker network can compete at online poker tables against opponents who are playing on the same network, but signed into a different online poker room.
In order for an online poker room to have any chance at success, they need a player base large enough to keep the games active. New poker players
are more attracted to online poker sites
with sufficient traffic to support multiple poker forms and regular tournaments. And more new players equals more potential to become profitable and self-sustaining.
Online poker networks provide the gaming software - complete with games tested for fairness and randomness by independent experts - as well as the shared player base, and a pre-loaded player loyalty reward system. The individual poker sites are responsible for marketing themselves in order to draw new players to the network through their online poker site.
Each online poker network is a little different than the next. Typically, each online poker network supplies a unique, proprietary gaming software package that can be customized by each of the online poker sites that join the network. It is up to the poker network's discretion which poker variants will be included, and the details of the default player loyalty program
Often times, a poker network is only as good at the software they provide. The level of sophistication in terms of features, functions, and customization options will largely determine the return rate of online poker players. Stability, security, and quality of game play are also important characteristics that contribute to the caliber of any online poker network.
Some of the most popular and extensive online poker networks in Europe include: the iPoker network
, owned by leading online gaming software development company, Playtech; Microgaming, a software developer well known for their online casino software packages, as well as other gaming development ventures since 1994; OnGame; International Poker Network (IPN), owned by Boss Media; and Entraction
, which offers a plethora of uncommon poker forms. The top U.S. facing online poker networks include: Cereus
, the famous result of the merger between AP and UB; the Cake Poker Network
, home to the Doyle Brunson endorsed online poker room, DoylesRoom; the Merge Gaming Network; and Everleaf
While poker networks generally furnish the full software required to start up a new online poker room, each site on a network has the freedom to create an entirely new look in order to "brand" themselves as an individual online poker site. These graphical customizations are commonly referred to as, "skins." The term skins is also used in reference to the different online poker sites operating on a single poker network. For instance, one could say that BetClick is a skin of the International Poker Network (IPN).
The skins of a poker network also have the freedom to add extra promotions
in an effort to further enforce their distinctive identity from other sites on the same poker network. Such promotions often result in players choosing to sign up with a number of sites on a single poker network in an effort to take advantage of each online poker room's unique perks.
In addition, most of the online poker sites present on a poker network are typically responsible for their own customer service, and payout management. These essential details are very important to online poker players, and can easily make or break a single online poker room. Dissatisfied poker players are more likely to share their opinions and unhappy experiences on poker forums
and in open reviews than players who have never had to deal with an incompetent customer support team, or had to wait three times longer than projected to receive a payout.
Online poker networks are, more or less, an inevitable evolutionary stage in the ever growing online poker industry. While a handful of online poker sites located on independent networks have managed to thrive without the benefit of shared player traffic - such as PokerStars
, Full Tilt Poker and Everest Poker
- online poker networks make it possible for the industry to support the enormous variety of individual, online poker rooms without stretching the available poker traffic too thin. The online poker networks enable players to choose one or more network skins that are most appealing to them, and still be able to find good action in online poker tournaments
and cash games.
In a way, each online poker network permits players to choose from a wide and varied array of online poker interface options, without forcing players to choose between a well trafficked poker network and the pretty colors of the network's latest skin. However, aesthetic appeal is rarely the highest priority of a serious online poker player, making it extra important for each individual online poker site on a network to do their part in the poker network chain to provide a satisfactory player experience.