Merge Poker Network: The Best Option For US Players (and Here’s Why)

Are you tired of Texas Hold’em?

Do you want to a join a site that always has games going?

Wouldn’t you like to get your piece of a $6 million prize pool?

Dumb questions, right? Silly writer…

Of course you do.

So I suggest you check out the Merge Poker Network, and more specifically, their flagship site, Carbon Poker.

I’m going to take a few minutes to tell you about them now, starting with their network and finishing with the pros and cons.

Let’s start at the beginning…

The Merge Poker Network started in 2004.

They grew lightening fast as there was a small ‘boom’ of companies wanting to take advantage of the poker boom and the ease of starting their own site.

At one point there was more than 60 partners or ‘skins’ using their software. That included brands like Reefer Poker, PDC, RPM, Lock and Carbon Poker.

Many of these brands died off, for one reason or another, over the last couple of years. My guess is that most didn’t distinguish themselves very well. Others scammed players and weren’t out to be lifers in the first place.

So nowadays we’re left with a handful of brands:

Traffic grew even faster for these sites after Black Friday when PokerStars, Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker were dropkicked from the United States.

It grew so fast, in fact, that the Merge Network had to stop accepting registrations for a short while so they could catch up on deposits and withdrawals.

Crazy stuff.

And their popularity hasn’t waned in the last few years, either. Right now they bounce between 1st and 2nd in US traffic and 15th and 20th in overall traffic.

Keep in mind that’s in despite of excluding players from states like:

That’s got to say something about what they offer and how well they run their business.

In fact, let’s look at some of the games and neat things you get to have and do while playing on this network. All my examples will come from Carbon Poker, but should apply to the other skins as well.

The Top Games on Carbon Poker

Carbon Poker has a TON of games. You can play holdem, omaha, stud, mixed poker, razz, draw poker and a LOT MORE.

But I want to draw your attention to 2 game types.

The first are their freerolls. Like the Chico Poker Network they add real money to their prize pools.

Back when I played they would add $8 to $15 to each freeroll, and tournaments would run every 4 hours (on the dot).

These games were soft – like fake money soft. With a bit of patience and luck you could get through the field and win a few bucks that you could spend anywhere on the site.

I have done this MORE than once.

(If you were smart you would do this a couple of times and start taking shots at the lower limit real money tourneys – NOT spew it on their blackjack or video poker games.)

The next game – or series of games – worth checking out is Carbon Poker’s OPS or Online Poker Series.

This is like PokerStars’ WCOOP/SCOOP or the WSOP. This is a series of 76 tournaments played over 15 days. More than $2 million is guaranteed, with $500,000+ of that up for grabs in their main events.

It doesn’t matter your budget, either – you can buy-in direct for $5 to $530 or satellite in for less than 1 buck.

What I Like About the Merge Poker Network

There’s a lot to like about their network. Especially compared to other offshore US networks.

Here’s what I like the most.

Features – What makes their software different (or did, before other networks started to copy them) are the different features. For example, you can do or use options like:

  • Emoticons – These are same smiley and winky faces you use on your phone.
  • Run It Twice – Do what the pros do and run hands twice (to gamble and reduce variance).
  • Rabbit Hunt – After everyone folds you can ask to see what the turn and river cards would’ve been.
  • Show One Card – You can show your opponent(s) one of your cards when you fold.

And that’s just scratching the surface…

Bad Beat Jackpots – Carbon Poker has had jackpots exceed $1 million. For example, in 2009 they paid out $400k to the loser of a jack high straight flush when the winner beat him with a king high straight flush. All the players at the table received $40k, while the loser won $400k and the winner $200k.

Guaranteed Tournaments – They host more than $6 million worth of guaranteed tournaments every month. $200,000+ is guaranteed every Sunday. And that doesn’t include their Online Poker Series.

Traffic – They bounce between #1 and #2 in players on their site. They see more than 600 cash game players and 1,000 players overall at any given time.

There’s more to like than this, too. I recommend reading our Carbon Poker review for an in-depth look at what they have to offer (including a MASSIVE 200% / $5,000 deposit bonus).

Where Can Carbon Poker / Merge Improve

It’s hard to think of suggestions because, relatively speaking, they’re the all-around best network. If anything they set the bar.

But if I have to come up with something I would say more traffic. It would be great to see them cement themselves in the #1 spot. More traffic would attract pros, which would increase cash flow, thus improving the poker economy (which leads to more promotions for you).

Next to that would be scaling up their game selection for their mobile and instant play software. They have a good start now, but if they were to add more games they would be light years ahead of their competition even when they finally add mobile-friendly games of their own.

Summary – Who Should Play at Merge?


Seriously, this network will work for anyone. They’re grinder friendly between their traffic levels and acceptance of 3rd party programs (like Poker Tracker).

They also have smaller stakes, step tournaments, guaranteed tournaments and real money freerolls. All things that beginners and recreational players enjoy.

When you factor in a VIP program and 4-figure deposit bonuses – you have a network no one can compete with.

Check them out – you won’t regret it.