As bwin enjoys increased share prices in the months leading up to its merger with PartyGaming, the Austrian sports betting giant has also stated that it may sell Ongame, the poker network it acquired back in 2006 and on which its online poker offering is based.

It makes sense: bwin won’t need two poker networks, and it’s getting PartyPoker in the PartyGaming merger. (Ongame currently ranks seventh on PokerScout.com’s rankings of global poker traffic; PartyPoker is fourth.)

Still, Ongame has been praised in recent weeks for its effectiveness in bringing in recreational players and making online poker more profitable and rewarding for professional players. Ongame’s Essence model and rake distribution system was “a way of rewarding rooms for bringing in the greater volumes of casual, often losing, players needed for the sustainable growth of poker rooms and networks,” says EGR

And that system worked: Last month, Ongame said that the rate of net depositing players was at its highest level in two years, and boasted an 8% year-on-year growth in “active recreational players” under the new Essence strategy.

“It also added that activity across other player categories, such as professionals, had not been impacted, and that pro players’ net winnings had increased,” EGR adds.

The idea behind Essence wasn’t new; Microgaming, Boss and Bodog all had introduced similar rewards mechanisms. Back in 2009, Bodog claimed it had even solved “the rakeback problem”.

But, successful as it may have been at catching fish, the upcoming merger with PartyPoker may simply make Ongame redundant.


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