Major Online Poker Networks

Poker networks have become an important part of online poker.
There are still a few large independent poker sites around, but
a big percentage of the action can be found on networked sites
these days. There are several major networks in operation and a
number of smaller ones too.

In this section of our poker guide we have provided
information on the biggest and most popular networks. We look at
their history, the games they have to offer, their tournament
schedules, and much more. You can see a brief overview of each
network we cover below. Further down the page, you’ll find an
introduction to online poker networks, an explanation on how
they work, and answers to some frequently asked questions on the
subject.


The Major Online Poker Networks

iPoker

Launched in 2004, iPoker has grown to become one of the best
known online poker networks around today. The software is
provided by Playtech and it’s widely considered to be some of
the most user-friendly and functional poker software available.
Several gambling sites have their poker rooms on iPoker,
including some of the larger brands such as William Hill and
Coral. The only downside is that this network isn’t currently
available to players from the United States.

Microgaming Poker Network

The Microgaming Poker Network, known as the MPN, has a
well-established history. It was formerly known as Prima Poker
and has been in operation for well over a decade. The MPN has
won a number of coveted industry awards including “Best Poker
Network” and “Best Poker Software.” The software is high quality
with plenty of useful features and the network operates a
popular international live tournament tour. There are no US
facing sites on the MPN though.

Merge Poker Network

PartyPoker was one of the forerunners in the early online
poker industry and was once the largest poker room on the
internet. They lost a lot of traffic when they stopped taking
American customers back in 2006, but they have remained popular
in Europe and other parts of the world. They merged with Bwin in
2011 and hence the Bwin Party Poker Network was formed. Although
there are only a small number of rooms on this network, the
tables are usually very busy.

Bwin Party Network

PartyPoker was one of the forerunners in the early online
poker industry and was once the largest poker room on the
internet. They lost a lot of traffic when they stopped taking
American customers back in 2006, but they have remained popular
in Europe and other parts of the world. They merged with Bwin in
2011 and hence the Bwin Party Poker Network was formed. Although
there are only a small number of rooms on this network, the
tables are usually very busy.

888 Poker Network

The 888 Poker Network is operated by 888 Holdings, which
first made its name in online casino games. The company expanded
into poker in 2002 and has continued to grow ever since. They
now have one of the busiest networks and some of the best
software around. The main network doesn’t accept players from
the United States, but 888 does operate a licensed and regulated
site in the state of New Jersey.

Revolution Gaming Network

The Revolution Gaming Network used to be the Cake Poker
Network. It has what one would call a checkered history due to
its association with some sites that have had issues with paying
players, but there are still some sites on the network which
appear to be operating ethically and looking after their
customers properly. Juicy Stakes and Intertops are the two
leading Revolution Gaming rooms and they both accept US players.

Equity Poker Network

This is one of the newer online poker networks, having
launched in 2013. There are only a few sites on the Equity Poker
Network (EPN), the majority of which wouldn’t be considered
major brands. However, the network does include Full Flush
Poker, which is one the fastest growing US friendly poker sites.
Full Flush has helped increase traffic to the EPN and has great
potential for continued growth.

Winning Poker Network

The Winning Poker Network started out as the Yahatay Poker
Network back in 2001. It struggled to gain much of a player
base, largely because of its outdated software, before changing
its name in 2012. The software was upgraded and more sites have
since joined, which led to some significant growth. It is now
one of the largest networks that still accept US customers.


Online Poker Networks – What They Are & How They Work

The fundamental concept of online poker networks is really
quite simple. The details relating to how the technology and
software actually works can be very complex but it’s unnecessary
to understand all of it. All you need to know are the basics of
what an online poker network is and how networks work compared
to independent poker sites. We explain these basics for you
below.

Online Poker Networks: An Overview

An online poker network is
essentially a group of online poker sites that all use the same
software engine.

Any poker site that’s part of a network is referred to as a
skin. Each skin on a network recruits and manages its own
players in the same way that an independent site would, but all
skins share the same software and the same tables. Basically the
player pools from all the different skins are combined into one
when it comes to actually playing.

A poker network tends to be operated by a single company,
usually the same company that has developed the software being
used. This company is responsible for maintaining and upgrading
the software. It also handles all the online communication
between the players and the game servers that’s required for the
games to run appropriately; everything else is dealt with by the
skins.

Comparing Independent Poker Sites to Networked Poker Sites

The basic mechanics of an independent poker site are very
simple. Once a player opens an account with a site he can log in
at any time to access the various games that will be running.
Generally speaking he’ll first be required to download some
software, but some sites use software that can be accessed
directly through a web browser. The process is the same either
way; players log in and then join a table that they want to play
at.

All the games running at an independent poker site are
exclusive to that site. That means that when a player joins a
table, he’ll be playing solely against other players from the
same site.

The mechanics of networked sites are very similar and just as
simple really, as players still have to open their accounts and
log in when they want to play. The main difference is that all
of the sites on the network are sharing the same tables,
allowing all players that log in from different skins to have
access to the same choice of games.

What this means is that when players join a table, they can
be seated with players from a number of different skins.

The fact that players are facing opponents from different
skins doesn’t make any practical difference at all to the way
the game is played. All it really means is that players are
likely to face a wider range of different opponents, rather than
competing against the same players all the time.

This is because a whole network of sites will generally have
more players logged in at any given time than a single
independent site will. There are some exceptions to this rule,
as there are a couple of independent sites that have player
bases large enough to rival even the biggest networks but that
usually isn’t the case.

Online Poker Network FAQ

Why Do Poker Site Join Networks?

One of the two main reasons a poker site may decide to join a
network is simply because they don’t want to develop and
maintain their own poker software. This can be an expensive and
time-consuming exercise, and even some of the biggest gambling
sites have no desire to have their own unique software. It’s a
much easier option for them to join an existing network that
already has high quality software in place.

Some sites will join a network after having limited success,
or complete failure, with their own poker software. This isn’t
always due to having poor software though. Even with good
software, it can be hard for a poker site to attract enough
players to keep the tables busy. Any players that they do manage
to attract won’t stay around very long if the tables are quiet
and they can’t find a suitable game to join whenever they want
to play.

Keeping the tables busy is one of the biggest challenges a
poker site faces, and this is the second main reason why they
may decide to join a network. Doing so will give their customers
access to tables which are shared by other sites and therefore
should be getting plenty of traffic. This gives the site the
opportunity to focus more of their attention on looking after
its existing customers and trying to attract new ones rather
than worrying about how busy their tables are.

How Are Skins On The Same Network Different From Each Other?

Although skins on a network share the same software and the
same tables, there are still a number of ways in which they
differ. For example, skins can customize the way the software
looks. This enables them to use their own branding and color
schemes and it’s the reason why skins on the same network can
often appear quite different graphically.

The level of customer service can also differ from one skin
to the next and that means the bonuses and rewards available can
differ too. You’ll find that on some networks most skins stick
to fairly similar structures in terms of the extra value they
give their customers, but that’s not the case with all of them.
This is why it can be a good idea to do some research into the
various skins, to see which one has the most to offer.

Can I Join More Than One Skin On The Same Network?

Yes, you can. You can’t log in to two skins on the same
network at the same time, to prevent cheating, but there’s
nothing to stop you from having accounts at different skins to
use at different times.

Can I Play At Different Networks?

Yes, you aren’t limited to a single network.

Are Networked Sites Better Than Independent Sites?

This isn’t a question that has a definitive answer. Some
independent sites are very good but some should probably be
avoided. There is probably an equal amount of good and bad
networked sites out there.

From a player’s perspective, neither networked sites nor
independent sites have an inherent advantage over the other.
Obviously a player wants to play where there are enough active
tables for them to find regular action but that doesn’t mean
they have to join a networked site. Some independent sites have
enough action to satisfy their customer’s needs.

Which Is The Best Poker Network?

Again, there’s no definitive answer to this. It depends on a
range of factors, including where you live. The best network for
an American player, for example, may not be the best one for a
European player.

When it comes to choosing where to play, you should be
looking for the best site according to your needs rather than
the best network. This is something we can help you with, as we
recommend the top sites in a number of different categories.