Boy waving goodbye to a ship

Red Star Poker announced on Monday that it will soon be joining Playtech’s iPoker Network, leaving the Microgaming Poker Network (MPN).

MPN will soon have zero skins

The move is necessary because Microgaming is shutting down its poker operations sometime next year, in either the second or third quarter. Microgaming announced the surprising decision two months ago.

In a September 20th blog post, MPN Managing Director Alex Scott confirmed the business decision, saying:

For some time now, I’ve been carrying out an extensive review into the poker product here at Microgaming, with input from poker industry experts, independent consultants, and my colleagues around the world. The conclusion of the review was that, for poker to be as successful as possible, we had to adopt a very different strategy and business model. Ultimately, the poker network is not part of that vision.

Scott reassured players that everyone’s money is safe; there is nothing about the closure that means any of the 16 skins are having financial trouble. Players can withdraw their money at any time, but the full array of game offerings will still be available up until the network shuts down.

Microgaming CEO John Coleman said in September that poker is not going away completely, it’s just that the “network model no longer fits with our strategic vision for poker.”

The company is going to rework poker somehow, though no details were revealed at the time (and likely won’t be until at least after MPN closes).

Logical move for Red Star

Russia-based Red Star Poker is the first of MPN’s skins to announce where it will be once the network goes down. And iPoker makes perfect sense. It is only the tenth largest online poker room/network, according to PokerScout, but most of the competitors above it wouldn’t work. PokerStars, Winamax, PokerStars Europe, partypoker, and 888poker are all stand-alone sites. The IDNPoker and GGPoker networks are Asia-facing. PaiWangLuo, which is the former Bodog, only serves Asian and U.S. customers. And Winning Poker Network’s reputation is questionable (and it’s primarily U.S.-facing). That leaves the iPoker Network.

The Microgaming Poker Network dates back all the way to 2003, before the poker boom, so its demise is a bit sad to long-time online poker fans. Back then, it was called the Prima Poker Network, a name (Prima) which lives on in its current software platform. Red Star Poker is nearly as old as MPN, having started in 2005. It was founded as an independent site, though it soon joined the Cake Poker Network. It finally made the jump to MPN in 2013.

“We are delighted to welcome Red Star on board with Playtech,” said Playtech COO Shimon Akad in a press release on Monday. “At a time when the Poker market is facing undeniable challenges, at Playtech we are completely committed to addressing those challenges head-on. Red Star’s decision to collaborate with us is a testament to our long-term investment in our Poker network and its ongoing development – and of course our commitment to our operators.”

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