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IPOKER NETWORK

Founded 20041
Owned by Playtech Ltd
Software Playtech
Structure Public traded. London Stock Exchange. Code: PTEC2
License Alderney
Skins 42 iPoker Skins
Live Tours N/A
US Accepted Not since UIGEA
Former Names N/A

 

Playtech Ltd. was founded in 1999 but the iPoker Network was not launched until the fall of 2004. The first licensees were existing Playtech casino operators. The brand that was set to put iPoker on the online poker map was Noble Poker. NoblePoker was owned by the CasinoPartners.com group which after UIGEA changed its name to EuroPartners.com.

In November 2006 Playtech aquired the rival Tribeca Tables who earlier had engaged in merger talks with Tain. This led to a deal that would guarantee Tribeca Tablas $75,000,000 and potentially earn as much as $139,000,000 depending on the performance of Tribeca Tables and its partners.3 The merger of the 3 networks only took 5 months and in March 2007 Playtech annouced the merger was succesfully complete.4

It has been rumored throughout the years that EuroPartners is a subdivision of Playtech in the sense that the companies have some of the same founding fathers. The same rumors have been circulating regarding Cpays.com, that changed its name many times. CPAYS probably changed name due to the fact that its reputation has been very poor and synonymous with lack of business ethics and misconduct of affiliate agreements. Cpays is now called Affiliates United and have merged with William Hill - an old, well respected sports book from United Kingdom.

A probable connection between Cpays (Aff Utd) and Playtech was linked in November 2008. Teddy Sagi, Playtech's founder, received £144,5m for various assets and affiliate companies including Cpays and its brands.5 Playtech took 29% stake in the new online entity WHG.6

When Empire Online Ltd had to sell Empire Poker to Party Gaming in March 2005, they seemed desperate to market a new known poker brand. Surprisingly, instead of spending some of the $250 millions7 from the sale to build a new brand they decided to buy Noble Poker in August 2005. Noble Poker was at the time the biggest brand on the iPoker Network8. The fact that Empire Online Ltd was listed on the stock market probably forced them to act this way.

iPoker Statistics

After selling Noble Poker CasinoPartners immediately launched the now well-known Titan Poker brand in September 2005.

From an industry observer's perspective it was astonishing that the Noble Poker affiliate links were redirected to Titan Poker. Unwillingly many affiliates were promoting Titan Poker if they did not change affiliate links. How this was technically possible only Playtech and EuroPartners.com would know.

In December the coming year Party Gaming bought Empire Online Ltd including the Noble Poker brand which explains why Party Gaming has an iPoker brand in its portfolio.9

On September 1, 2012 Playtech decided to split iPoker in two. The names of the two networks became iPoker1 and iPoker2. Only the five biggest poker rooms made the cut to iPoker2 the new formed network that was believed to host a majority of the 'fish'.

William Hill, TitanPoker, bet365, Paddy Power & Poker770 were the only poker rooms living up to Playtech's tough demands of having 6000 active real money players as well as 800 new first depositors on a monthly basis.

The split was made on the tables up to NL400 so non of the higher stakes were affected by the split nor were the tournaments. Read more about the ipoker split.

 

iPoker has had major problems with rake back and even though it managed to keep a lid on the problem it still exists. iPoker started to fine operators who were caught offering rakeback to players directly or via affiliates. In fact iPoker supposedly has agents trying to lure affiliates and operators into offering illegal rake back deals via forums in the attempt to fine operators for violating the network rules.

Some poker rooms did not stop even though they received fines for offering rake back. A few operators seemed happy to pay the fines that iPoker gave them since the profits earned in connection with illegal rake back exceeded the cost of potentially paying monthly fines.

The rake back problem kept escalating to the extent that two poker rooms named NoiQ Poker & Carlos Poker were banned from iPoker in 2009.  It had all started in November 2008, when iPoker wanted to get rid of rake back and therefore began to fine partners who had more winning players than losing players.10

As a result winning players were excluded by some poker rooms such as VC Poker who had too many winning players. These players were forced to play on other iPoker skins. 

A poker room focused on signing new players would never have too many winning players. A poker room focusing on retainment, recruiting existing pro players and midstake grinders got in trouble. 

It was hard to prove which poker rooms were offering rake back behind the scenes and because of this the "win-ratio fine system" was implemented regardless of what the operators might have thought of it. The rules were imposed and it meant that poker rooms having 2% more withdrawals than deposits were fined at the end of each month. The size of the fine was in proportion to the amount of rake the poker room had generated and how high the win-ratio was.

NoIQ Poker & Carlos Poker were forced to leave. VC Poker followed. PokerPlex11 shut down (not to be confused with PokerPlex24). Carlos Poker who allegedly grossed nearly $2 million in rake a month was in the mean time bought by Unibet Plc., who moved the brand to Microgaming. Carlos Poker was known to be masters of rake back since they had build an in-house system for affiliates offering rake back.

 

Rake back is not officially allowed by iPoker. A few years ago iPoker banned the word ”rake” in any promotion on the iPoker network. Affiliates with the term “rake” in their domain name were and still are not allowed to promote any iPoker rooms. Doing so could cost the poker room a fine from iPoker.

Today it is fairly easy to get a good rake back deal on iPoker. It is not very surprising that one of the only poker rooms who can get away with this seems to be William Hill. William Hill has enough losing players to absorb the winning 'rake back players' and do not seem to worry about fines from Playtech. In reality this means that all winning players banned from other iPoker skins will end up at William Hill. William Hill's online division is still operated and managed by quite a few of the 'rouge' managers from Ad-gency/Cpays/Aff Utd.

 

 

Playtech holds 29% of the shares in the companies that control the brands Bet Most, Big Slick & William Hill. TitanPoker is promoted by EuroPartners possibly the World's largest Playtech Casino Group. We are not able to prove that Playtech controls EuroPartners but it is fair to say that Titan Poker has a unique relationship with iPoker.12

 

Carlos Poker was banned by iPoker in January 2009 and moved to Microgaming.13
NoiQ Poker was banned by iPoker in January 2009 and moved to Entraction.14
Shut down by Bingo Entertainment Ltd. A similar brand is now called PokerPlex24
VC Poker moved to Entraction in December 2010.15

 


1 Playtech.com September 12, 2011

Wikipedia.org September 12, 2011

3 Playtech.com November 13, 2006

4 Playtech.com March 12, 2007

5 EGRmagazine.com June 16, 2009 (page removed)

6 Independent.co.uk October 21, 2008 (page removed)

7 PokerHistory.eu September 14, 2011

8 Globes.co.il August 1, 2005 (page removed)

9 CardSquad December 29, 2006

10 PokerListings.com October 23, 2008

11 BonusRiders.com

12 On CAP an Account Manager named Neil Mitchell speaks about the Joint venture between Playtech and William Hill (incl. Webroute & Cpays) Quote: "Also, the JV [Joint Venture] is between Playtech and William Hill, not Cpays and William Hill. Cpays are one of the companies being absorbed into the JV, and to be honest thats more than not likely because they have such a bad rep." Read the forum post

13 PokerNewsDaily.com December 27, 2008

14 ibid

15 Cardplayer November 23, 2010