The majority of today’s poker sites operate on networks that share players, operating costs and sometimes even poker software. If you take a seat at any major poker site, there’s a good chance you’re actually playing at tables with people who initially signed up through different poker sites on the same network.
|Network Name||7 Day Average # of Players||Flagship Poker Site|
|Microgaming Poker Network||650||www.betvictor.com|
Note: Traffic data comes from PokerScout.com.
Individual poker sites on a network are referred to as “skins.” Poker skins are free to market themselves and come up with unique bonuses and graphic themes, but they all work in concert to promote the general health of the network. When multiple poker sites join forces, it raises total player traffic. This is good for the players and sites alike because it results in more table selection and bigger tournaments.
Ranking the Best Network
888 gets my vote as the best overall poker network. 888Poker is the only major poker site on this network, but there are a few other, smaller sites that call it home. The 888 network has the most active players and has been steadily gaining ground over all other competing networks.
In second place, I would vote for iPoker. Not only is the iPoker network home to many reliable poker sites, but it also has a healthy player base. It seems to be a well-run network and is fairly selective in which sites it accepts as partners.
You can also read more individual poker networks on the following pages:
Strengths and Weaknesses of Poker Networks
Poker networks are mostly good for the industry because they get a lot of independent poker sites to work together and build out healthy poker ecosystems. However, there are pros and cons to everything. Poker networks are no exception.
Pros and Cons for Players
The primary reason you would want to choose a poker site that is a part of a network is because you instantly gain access to a large player pool. When you join such a site, you’ll find a lot of active tables and plenty of tournament action.
One of the secondary advantages you get as a player is the ability to claim multiple signup bonuses on a single network. If you enjoy the ring games or tournaments at your poker site but you need to give the bankroll a shot of bonus money, you can take your business over to a different site on that network and claim a welcome bonus. You have access to all the same tables and tournaments, but you’re now playing with the benefit of a new deposit bonus.
It’s tough to come up with any real disadvantages for players. It’s possible the network makes a stupid decision that affects multiple poker sites, but that’s the kind of thing that can happen anywhere. If you don’t like your current network, it’s easy enough to cash out and join a different poker site.
Pros and Cons for Poker Sites
The single greatest advantage to poker sites is the greater traffic generated by a poker network. When you have 5 or 10 poker sites all contributing to the same player pool, you have more tables to choose from and bigger tournaments to compete in. Each poker site benefits by looking more attractive to the player.
Compare this to a small poker site that operates independently. If it only manages to get 50 or 100 players online at a time, it’s not going to look very attractive to prospective customers and miss out on potential signups. Take that same poker site, add it to a healthy network and all of a sudden that site becomes much more attractive.
Joining an established network also drops the startup costs by a huge margin. Most networks have established software and white label solutions that an operator can tap into for a fraction of what it would cost to design software and a network from scratch. Combine this with the existing traffic and it’s easy to see why so many new sites opt to join networks.
The biggest disadvantage to joining an existing network is a loss of control. If you own a brand new poker site and join an existing network, you’ll have to rely on the network to manage the network well and make decisions about which games are offered, how much rake is charged and so on.
Additionally, poker sites have to pay ongoing fees to the network. It costs money to establish and operate a network, and that gets passed on to each operator. All in all, joining an established network is sort of like buying into a franchise business. You get the benefit of experience and an established name in return for giving up a cut of your profits.