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Carbon Poker Weakens Loyalty Program Again

Carbon Poker, the flagship online poker room of the Merge Gaming Network, has announced further changes to its customer loyalty program that will not make its players happy. In this writer’s opinion, the changes are so bad that what was already an extremely weak loyalty system will soon essentially be a defunct loyalty system.

As it stands right now, players can earn VIP Points for playing in real money games on Carbon Poker. In ring games, 1 VIP point is awarded to a player for every 10 cents contributed to the rake (in a pot in which the rake is collected – “no flop, no drop”). Similarly, in tournaments and Sit and Go’s, 1 VIP point is awarded for every 10 cents in tournament entry fees. Thus, a $10 + $1 tournament would earn a player 10 VIP Points. merge

VIP Points can currently be redeemed for entries into Carbon Poker’s featured tournaments, including Early Bird, Night Owl, Nightly, and Sunday Big tournaments, as well as any promotional tournament series events with buy-ins of $11 or more.

So far, though Carbon Poker’s VIP Program is totally and completely underwhelming, everything is fairly standard. But come July 15, 2014, it gets so much better. And by better, I mean worse. A lot worse.

In two weeks, VIP Points will be called Player Points, which makes sense, since those earning the points will not be “Very Important People” anymore. When the change occurs, and details are already on carbonpoker.ag, Player Points will only be used to “clear bonuses and track promotions.” Unlike VIP Points, it appears that Player Points will not be able to be used to enter tournaments. On top of that, once the new program starts in a fortnight, all unused VIP Points will be lost.

Some Carbon Poker players received a brief e-mail about the change, which reads as follows:

We have made some changes to how our VIP points function. Starting July 15th, VIP Points will be called Player Points and are only used as a tool to clear bonuses and track promotions.

Players will have until July 14th, 2014 to redeem their points to buy-in to tournaments.

Players can expect to see bigger promotions and exciting tournaments that will create huge value and benefits for them in the upcoming months.

And this all comes just a couple months after Carbon Poker adjusted its VIP Program for the worse. It used to offer players rakeback-like rewards through a tiered VIP program in which they could redeem VIP Points for cash. That ended May 1, when the program was changed to just allowing players to redeem VIP Points for tournament entries.

Carbon Poker, once a promising online poker room, has really struggled in the last year or two to please its customers. As mentioned, it is the biggest name site on the Merge Gaming Network, one of the few offshore networks to still accept players from the United States. It is the second largest U.S.-facing network, but considering it is sitting down at 17th in PokerScout’s cash game traffic rankings, that is not saying much. On the bright side, it had once been plagued by significant payout problems, as it took ages for players to receive their withdrawals, but after a payment processor switch, things have gotten much better. According to the Carbon and Aced Poker discussion thread on 2+2, Carbon Poker is now one of the best of the U.S.-facing sites when it comes to payout times. From February through May, players have reported that it has taking an average of three weeks for checks to arrive.

Carbon Poker’s sister site, Aced.com, officially closed its doors yesterday. As reported last week, Aced and Carbon were both owned by the Merge Gaming Network and this was likely a move made for efficiency and cost reasons, as there were staff redundancies on the two sites. There just was not much reason to have both in operation, so Aced customers are being migrated over to Carbon Poker. Of course, they are not going to like what they will see in Carbon Poker’s VIP Program. Wait, make that Points Program. Actually, it’s not really a program at all. It’s just a counter that helps people keep track of bonuses. Really, that’s it.

It will be interesting to see how well an online poker room can do without any semblance of a loyalty program. Not all loyalty programs are great and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are extremely beneficial for the hardcore grinder, the player who sits for hours a day, playing hand after hand after hand. Some cater to the casual player, offering easy to reach rewards and making those recreational players feel wanted. But regardless of the strength of a loyalty program, at least they exist on most internet poker sites. Carbon Poker, whether it is saying it or not, is just eliminating its program, a move that can’t be a good idea.

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