Without giving any reasons for the action, a press statement from Playtech's iPoker network over the weekend informed interested parties that NoIQ Poker and Carlos Poker are to be removed from the network on January 24th.
The terse statement reads: “iPoker has, following discussions with Tain, decided to remove Carlos Poker and NoIQ Poker from the iPoker Network. The said card rooms will be removed from the iPoker network liquidity by January 24th, 2009.” The reference to Tain regards the membership of that network following its merge with iPoker in the autumn of 2006. Tain remains a separate company with no ownership ties to iPoker/Playtech.
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NoIQPoker, a subsidiary of the Malta-based Flopgroup Limited, was a little more forthcoming, issuing its own statement which hints broadly at disagreements with iPoker in saying: “It’s Christmas time and we are about to close off the year, but not without some fireworks. NoiQ have been on iPoker network since early 2007. This partnership is about to end January 24th.
"NoiQ and iPoker don’t look at things the same way and it has been hard to understand each other. However, we are extremely excited about the change and can’t wait to get started.”
NoIQ Poker went on to say that information about its move to a new network will be announced on December 29.
This was followed by an interview between poker information portal Europokerpro.com and NoiQ's Operations Manager Karl Buhagiar, in which he claimed that the disparity in the manner in which iPoker and NoiQ do business was behind the move.
"We do not wish to go into the actual reason," Buhagiar said, "There [are] many things that will never be said that could explain a lot.
"We believe this is great for NoiQ and just leave it with that."
Buhagiar boasted that his company has received offers from 4 different networks, and that the choice of the new network to which the site will move was based on "…much faster game play, looser cash games and looks really nice. We think our players will be amazed. The tight game on iPoker is not something every player likes."
There were hints of trouble on the iPoker network in November this (2008) year when Maestro Poker was expelled for rake violations, followed by an enforced suspension of activities at NoIQPoker (see previous InfoPowa report) which resulted in Nils Erik, affiliate manager at the poker site, informing affiliates:
"NoiQPoker will be fenced from the iPoker network from 29th of November – 6th of December this does not include MTT and Sit n Go’s.
"This means none of our players will be able to play cash games against other iPoker skins but cash games between NoiQ players will still be possible. So NoiQ players will only be able to play against other NoiQ players for 7 days.
"The reason for this is as follows:
* Some affiliates have advertised NoiQ's VIP system that's not allowed after the latest policy from iPoker.
* Some sites that contain the name ‘rake' in it have advertised NoiQPoker. This is not allowed after the latest policy from iPoker.
"NoiQ have failed to remove our name from all rake domains. We have done our best but it's hard to find them all.
"We have also done our best to let our affiliates know about iPoker policy but still some affiliates mention the VIP system."
Erik concluded by advising NoIQPoker affiliates that the company would in future be policing their activities more closely. "It's hard for us as it might be for many of you since we are doing our very best to follow all the rules something we really feel we are doing," he wrote. "After the 6th of December everything will be back to normal."
Speculation on several poker message boards was that other websites on the iPoker network objected to NoIQPoker's competitive player rewards policies and complained, causing first a warning and suspension, and finally expulsion from the network.
To some extent that is confirmed by remarks made by Buhagiar in his interview with Europokerpro: "iPoker have hold (sic) us back a lot because of their policy. We are now able to do more and will use this opportunity."
Carlos Poker is part of the Microgaming-powered Unibet Poker sub-group, although its website lists it as owned by a Costa Rican entity called Mantaray, a subsidiary of the UK company brand Parabol Ltd. It is one of 9 online gaming sites owned by Unibet Group plc, which include Bingo.se, Carlos Casino, Carlos Poker, Maria Bingo, Maria Casino, Unibet Bingo and Skill Games, Unibet Casino and Unibet Sports & Racebook. It is therefore unlikely that Carlos Poker will have difficulty in finding a new home.
The reasons behind its expulsion are not known, and the company has not so far made a statement.