Microgaming Poker Network Will Close in 2020
The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) announced on Friday that following an “extensive internal review of the software supplier’s product portfolio and strategy,” it has decided to shut down in 2020. Rumors were swirling overnight as poker players had been receiving e-mails from MPN skins and the network confirmed them early this morning. An exact timeline on the shut down has yet to be determined; the network estimates that the end will come in Q2 or Q3 of 2020.
In a statement posted on Microgaming’s website, Microgaming CEO John Coleman offered a brief explanation:
The network model no longer fits with our strategic vision for poker, and this is the right time to announce the closure as we focus on redistributing key resources and personnel across the business. While the network will be closing, this is not the end for poker at Microgaming, which is driven to create the most enjoyable entertainment experiences, leading the way with world-class gaming content. Ultimately, this move will help the business to achieve that vision as we follow a new strategic direction for the vertical, details of which will be revealed in due course.
Poker hands will still be dealt
MPN’s Managing Director Alex Scott expanded a bit in a blog post, saying that it was determined that the network structure was just not viable anymore and that they needed to “adopt a very different strategy and business model.”
“All of us in the Microgaming poker team are committed to seeing this out with dignity,” Scott added. “More than that – we want the poker community to have fond memories of the network we have invested so much of our time and energy in.”
As such, it is business as usual on the Microgaming Poker Network until the lights are turned off. Scott said all of the normal tournaments, cash games, and promotions will still run.
Scott said that all 16 of MPN’s poker rooms have indicated that they are looking into other software providers and that they have every intention of continuing to operate after the network’s closure. One would think that most will hop onto other networks, but it is certainly possible that some could go independent. If I had to put money on it (no semi-pun intended), I would guess that most or all will join other networks because trying to be a lone wolf after functioning as part of a network would be very difficult in this day and age. The drop-off in player traffic would be severe, which would make it difficult to retain customers.
Player deposits unaffected
The skins are independently owned and therefore are the entities that hold players’ funds. Microgaming does not touch player money. Scott made it clear that there is no reason to think that any funds are at risk:
As a condition of operating on the network, each of our poker rooms is required to, at minimum, segregate all player funds from its operating expenses. There is no reason to believe that any of our poker rooms is in financial difficulty and our plans to close the network have no impact on the safety of your funds.
Of course, if players want to withdraw their money, they are free to do so at any time. One would assume that if customers stay until the bitter end, their bankrolls will stay with the poker room as it transitions to life post-Microgaming.
Scott also said that MPN’s current poker series, the Universal Championship of Poker, is unaffected. It began on Sunday and will continue until September 29th. Total guaranteed prize pools are more than €1 million. Scott added that players should expect overlays in the tournaments, presumably because he expects players to leave the network starting today.
The MPN Poker Tour is still going, as well, at least for a while. The October Malta stop is on, as normal. Scott said there is another event planned after Malta; details will be confirmed soon. He emphasized that anyone who has won a prize package or a seat will be contacted and all prizes will be honored.
My poker career started with Microgaming
On a personal note, even though Microgaming will offer poker after the network closes (the company has promised updates as the months go on), I am a little sad that this era is coming to an end. Microgaming is where I got my start in poker. The network launched just before the poker boom and, like many people, I became interested in poker after watching Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003.
I searched the internet and found some online poker rooms where I could play for free, but eventually I came across a room on the Prima Poker Network, which was the original name of MPN. The name of the poker room escapes me – it no longer exists, as far as I know – but I remember it gave me $10 for free, no deposit required. I signed up and played for real money for the first time. Somehow I went on a roll and ran that $10 up to $100. I then discovered a large online poker affiliate and used that $100 to deposit in another poker room and receive a free poker chip set from said affiliate.
I played on several more Prima sites after that, including the one that gave me the free $10. In the meantime, I befriended the owner of the affiliate site, who eventually offered me a job. We launched a poker news site and I have been writing ever since. If it wasn’t for Microgaming, I might not have had this career.
Lead image credit: Christian Hellmann