The shared-liquidity iPoker Network is already making waves in the EU market due to bigger first deposit bonuses, better rewards programs, and more promotions.
Earlier this week, players on iPoker sites in the previously ring-fenced markets of France and Spain were able to play against each other for the first time in almost seven years. The cross-border amalgamation of the two markets was announced very quietly because historically the sites have struggled to attract enough players to host a tea party, let alone a worthwhile tournament.
However, a comparison of traffic across the five shared-liquidity European networks shows there has been a significant bump in traffic on the European iPoker Network over the past few days – mostly at the expense of Party Poker and 888 Poker, who are now themselves struggling to compete against the European big guns of PokerStars and Winamax.
What´s Driving Players to the EU iPoker Network?
Undoubtedly one of the major contributing factors for the migration of players to the EU iPoker Network is bigger first deposit bonuses, better rewards programs, and more promotions. Although these existed before, the lack of traffic didn´t allow players to take advantage of these offers – despite them often being considerably better than can be found on other shared-liquidity European networks:
|First Deposit Bonuses on EU Poker Networks|
|Existing EU Sites||EU iPoker Sites|
|PokerStars Europe||100% up to €500||Betfair.es||200% up to €1,000|
|Winamax||100% up to €500||Sportium||200% up to $1,000|
|Party Poker Europe||€22 MTT Tickets||Casino Barcelona||200% up to €200|
|888 Poker Europe||100% up to €400||Bet365.es||100% up to €100|
|Unibet.fr||100% up to €500|
|BetClic.fr||200% up to €2,000|
What´s more is that, once players have cleared their first deposit bonuses, most sites on the EU iPoker network have better rewards programs than PokerStars´ much-maligned Chests program or Winamax´s low-value “Miles” program. There are also more promotions, and only 888 Poker has as many qualifiers to local live poker events, whereas PokerStars and Winamax only have their sights on the Bahamas.
Still Some Exceptions to Total Shared Liquidity
Unlike the other four EU networks, the level of shared liquidity between the French and Spanish iPoker platforms is not total. Part of the limited liquidity is due to the French players having to validate their IDs before being allowed to play on the shared-liquidity platform, while it looks as though Spanish players will be excluded from some 6-Max cash tables, dual nationality Twister games with a buy-in of less than €10.00, and dual nationality multi-table tournaments with a buy-in of less than €5.00.
It is not clear why the exceptions exist when other networks have been able to overcome them, but they are unlikely to have much of an impact for players looking to clear first deposit bonuses and earn points towards their rewards program statuses. With regard to tournament guarantees, feature tournaments on the EU iPoker Network are now on a par with Party Poker´s and not so reliant on progressive knockout events, while they are way ahead of the prize pools available on 888Poker´s EU network.
Will the Migration towards the iPoker´s EU Sites Continue?
Certainly in the short term it should. The poker-exclusive promotions hosted by the iPoker´s EU sites will be a refreshing change to challenges encouraging players to spend money in online casinos or place sports bets; while the options to qualify for local live poker events are more appealing to many players than the “go-to-the-Caribbean-or-stay-at-home” options being offered by PokerStars and Winamax.
Based on our comparison of traffic, it remains to be seen how much longer Party Poker and 888Poker maintain their shared liquidity platforms. The likelihood is that Party Poker will (again) withdraw its multi-table tournaments, while 888Poker will keep pushing their €20 no deposit bonuses and using its poker platform as a loss leader in order to attract players to its casino and sports betting platforms.
Ultimately it could be good for players all over the world that sites on the iPoker EU Network are making waves across France and Spain. It might make some of the bigger operators look at what they are currently offering in terms of bonus and rewards, and encourage them to revise their promotions to be more player-friendly. Let´s hope so for the players sick of urged to play online casino games or qualify for a multimillion dollar event on the other side of the world they have little hope of winning.