Equity Poker Network Launches

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The Equity Poker Network (EPN), a new online poker network focused on supporting its member poker rooms, launched Friday. Billed as a “non-profit” network, the Equity Poker Network vows to change the way internet poker networks operate.

EPN calls itself a “cooperative,” in that the role of the network is to support the poker rooms, rather than the other way around. In most network setups, the network provides the software and often the backend and banking services and that’s it. Once a member room launches, it funnels a percentage of its revenue to the network every month all the while battling other member rooms for customers. With EPN, the member rooms will simply pay the network $10,000 per month, a fee used to keep the network running, not for making the network’s executives rich.

In the EPN, poker rooms are encouraged to grow, to become successful businesses in their own right. Both voting rights and network profit distribution is based on individual poker room volume.

And while poker rooms on the Equity Poker Network can certainly poach each other’s customers, there is zero incentive to do so. Once a player signs up at a member poker room, that room gets that player’s lifetime profits on the network, even if the players leaves to go to another EPN room.

The rooms are also in charge of their own tournaments and loyalty programs. While we would assume there will be some network-wide tournaments so as to build larger fields, each room has the freedom to create and operate its own tourneys. Loyalty programs and rakeback are also the domain of the individual rooms; the only rule is that rewards cannot be more than the equivalent of 50 percent rakeback.

Rooms will be encouraged to carefully craft said loyalty programs, as the network will impose a “Shark/Winners Tax” in order to get members to recruit recreational players, the players that reload the most. Generous rewards and rakeback may work well in recruiting hardcore grinders, but the problem there is that those players tend to win more than recreational players and would therefore result in the poker room getting hit with the network tax.

At the beginning of this month, EPN Founder and CEO Clive Archer said in a press release, “We’ve had an overwhelming response to EPN’s non-traditional business model. Now with several new Operators on board, all adding further weight to the Cooperative, we know we are on the right track to achieving a fairer future for Operators, and a Network home to well-balanced poker rooms that recreational and occasional players can trust.”

EPN is very small right now, with only four member rooms: FullFlushPoker.com, GearPoker.com, IntegerPoker.com, and Heritage Sports. PokerScout.com has begun tracking the network’s traffic, but has not recorded any results yet. When the first numbers are produced, expect the Equity Poker Network to rank at the bottom of the industry in terms of cash game traffic.

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