The online poker ecosystem is made up of dozens of the more popular poker sites, most of which operate on either a network platform or run off their own independent software. These sites have large amounts of real money poker players, sometimes playing on different skins on the same network in order to take advantage of different promos or bonus deals. We will break down the best online poker networks in this write-up.
The “Network” Model
Most poker rooms choose to join a network to offset the costs of developing their own software, running different promotions and tournament series and to gain instant access to a shared player pool across the entire network.
The downside of this model is that since player pools are shared, a portion of the profits goes back to the network provider that supplies them with the poker software needed to run their room. Also, some rooms have taken advantage of the network in the past and abused rakeback and controversies like that only adversely affect the other rooms on the network.
Independent Poker Software Providers
The larger iGaming companies, like PokerStars and PartyPoker, all use their own independent software to power their games, and therefore also collect 100% of the rake and profits. These sites have booming budgets and are publicly traded companies worth billions, a benefit to being pioneers in the business and developing their own poker software.
The aforementioned sites are the premier players in the online poker industry, with PokerStars making up nearly 50% of the market share as it pertains to the online poker player pool. This isn’t necessarily because they chose to develop their own software, but mainly because they were apart of a very small group that took its business seriously during online poker’s infancy.
These particular sites have since thrived, even post-UIGEA and “Black Friday” when a lot of these sites were forced to drop their USA player base as a result of a crackdown on online poker from the United States Department of Justice.
Most Popular Online Poker Networks Today
There are really only a handful of poker networks out there today that are bringing actual value into the poker ecosystem. Below you will find our list of the top networks in the poker industry, including a small description for each and a direct link to more in-depth reviews on each.
The iPoker Network currently houses more than 30 different poker skins on the network itself. The company’s software is actually powered by Playtech, which originally started in the industry as a casino software provider.
The iPoker Network made a drastic change a few years ago when they segregated the sites, placing certain ones in different tiers and renaming them “iPoker 1” and “iPoker 2,” mainly to ensure fairness among the skins as some were offering exorbitant rakeback deals that other smaller sites couldn’t compete with.
However, they would move away from this tiered model in 2015 to improve player liquidity, as traffic started sinking since they segregated the traffic. During this time, smaller sites folded while other larger sites on the network bought up certain skins and their player traffic in the process.
The most popular site on iPoker is Titan Poker, with other sites like Bet365 and PaddyPoker also calling the network home currently.
Microgaming Poker Network
The Microgaming Network is one of the most popular in all of UK and Europe. They are one of the original iGaming pioneers, starting out like Playtech as a casino software provider before venturing into online poker.
According to PokerScout.com, the network traffic consistently ranks in the top 10 of the world as far as real money poker players go. They currently have more than 20+ skins and continue to grow nicely in the industry.
Like most poker sites these days, the network has moved away from rakeback completely and have been very committed to making the site more about recreational players as opposed to catering to grinders. They even implemented anonymous tables to rid their sites of “bumhunters” and have a fully-implemented achievement system in place.
The most popular MPN sites seem to be Betsson, BetSafe and Nordic Bet. Bettson also has a full sportsbook, along with sites like 32Red and a few others.
888 Poker Network
888 is of course one of the most recognizable brand names in the biz today, with their software being used to not only power 888Poker.com in Europe and around the world, but even regulated poker sites in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.
The network traffic is consistently high both domestically and internationally, ranking in the top 3 according to PokerScout. The solid poker software and attention to detail have made 888 one of the most trusted names in all of poker today.
Naturally, the best site on their own network is 888Poker.com, which is constantly battling giants like PokerStars and PartyPoker for global dominance in terms of player traffic.
Winning Poker Network
WPN is home to the few “unregulated” poker sites that still accept American players. Since UIGEA and Black Friday, many of the larger poker providers pulled out of the market, creating a void that sites like Americas Cardroom quickly filled.
While the sites on WPN aren’t as heavily-trafficked as their counterparts in Europe, the network boasts decent numbers in terms of real money traffic goes. Poker rooms on WPN, such as Americas Cardroom, also still offer rakeback to its players and extremely fast cashouts, making it the premier option for customers around the globe and the United States.
Equity Poker Network
The Equity Poker Network is similar to that of WPN in the fact that it too is a smaller US-friendly poker hub. They have a very unique business model where operators (ie skins) pay a fixed fee every month to cover operation expenses, while at the same time being able to keep 100% of the rake generated by its players.
The best sites on EPN would have to be Action Poker and Full Flush Poker. The traffic isn’t anything to write home about, but there is a certain “fish factor” at sites like these. Play at your own risk though, as both these sites have been notorious for slow payouts.