Players on Carbon Poker have been informed that the site will no longer offer rakeback effective Jan. 31 at 11:59pm EST, after which players will be automatically enrolled in the site’s VIP program. While Carbon was the first to announce the news, it has since been confirmed that the change applies to all Merge Gaming Network skins. The last time Merge turned off its rakeback taps (shortly after Black Friday in 2011), the change affected only new players, as existing rakeback deals were grandfathered in. This time, there are no exceptions and the VIP points players earned under the rakeback program won’t be transferable, so spend ‘em while you got ‘em.
Carbon stated in an email to players that the change would allow it “to offer larger and more beneficial bonuses and ultimately allows for an improved distribution of bonuses to our players.” Player rep CarbonRyan posted a message to the 2+2 forums in which he stated that “moving away from rakeback to an improved VIP program is the best way to build and improve the overall poker ecology of our network.” More to the point, CarbonRyan said the company was “taking these steps now to secure the longevity of the network,” and the network’s longevity has been anything but secure of late. The second half of 2012 was not kind to Merge, what with the departure of its CEO, the banning of player-to-player transfers, some of its skins shutting their doors and a herd of others stampeding toward the exits.
Does this mean the self-destructive rakeback wars are finally over? Is sanity spreading through the online poker world in tandem with the influenza virus? Is Bodog Network’s Jonas Ödman reading this and chuckling over how long it’s taken other networks to realize the value inherent in the Bodog recreational poker model? Does being the last remaining network to offer overly generous incentives to its net-withdrawing players mean Lock/Revolution has ‘won’? Considering the volume of complaints on 2+2 regarding Lock’s lethargic payment system, perhaps ‘winning’ this contest was less a case of Lock having taken one bold step forward and more a case of everyone else taking one prudent step back.