Merge says that many of the changes have resulted directly from player feedback, but also cites competitive pressures from other US facing sites as a partial motivation. Merge cash game traffic has performed poorly against the market for over 10 months—an indicator that it is losing players to its competitors.
- Late registration for all deep stacked tournaments except the Sunday Big Ticket, Sunday Super High Roller, and the Nightly High Roller will feature 140 minutes for late registration.
- The Sunday Big Ticket, Sunday Super High Roller, and the Nightly High Roller will continue to have between four and 6 hours of late registration, but their guarantees will remain unchanged.
- Sunday $33, $60, and $109 tournaments will have their guarantees reduced from $20k to $15k reflecting the reduced time for late registration.
- More PLO, PLO8, Stud, Stud8, HORSE, and Badugi events will be added to the schedule.
- More hyper-turbo, turbo, and rebuy/add on events will be added to the daily schedule.
- More daily satellite tournaments will run each day for the nightly MTT events.
- Some of the lowest buy in guaranteed tournaments have been removed.
Where guarantees have been reduced, Merge suggests that this is a temporary change until they have a better gauge of how entries will be affected by the changes. Similarly, the introduction of more tournaments outside the Texas Hold’em standard is explained as a “method to stabilize and increase overall player participation by the network” and will be reviewed to see if it succeeds.
Other changes affect the timings of certain tournaments being changed to fit peak traffic times and the introduction of a more regular flow of tournaments at the most popular buyins on an hourly basis.
Merge revamped its schedule last October on an experimental basis, and appeared to make an immediate profit as a result. If the Hawthorne effect applies to online poker, players can expect many more schedule changes in the future.