Carbon Poker: O, How the Mighty Have Fallen

Carbon Poker: O, How the Mighty Have Fallen

Carbon Poker, on the Merge Gaming Network, was once the busiest online poker site for American players. Yet, it has declined to the point where it's now an also-ran in the internet gaming business. The rise of formidable competitors combined with its own boneheaded corporate decision-making is to blame for this room's deteriorating fortunes.

Games and Software

The software in use at Carbon Poker is slick and polished, which makes it all the more of a shame that very few individuals make this poker provider their online home for card games. Yet, we can't blame poker enthusiasts for avoiding this operator for reasons that we'll get to in a moment.

The cash game selection includes Texas Hold'em (No Limit and Fixed Limit) and Omaha (PLO and LO8). Blind levels go up to $2/$5 in big-bet games and $15/$30 in limit formats. This is a pretty Spartan roster of variants especially compared to several years ago when Carbon sported many other types of poker, like HORSE, 5 Card Draw (w/Joker), 2-7 Triple Draw and more. It's pretty understandable, though, that management has elected to consolidate the game offerings given that Carbon's player traffic has declined more than 90 percent from its peak in 2012.

Lobby of Carbon Poker

The Carbon Poker Lobby for No Limit Texas Hold'em Cash Games

You cannot choose a table and seat in the ring game section of Carbon. Instead, you have to select the game and stakes you wish to play and then press the “Start Playing” button. The software will automatically put you in a seat at a matching table.

Sit 'n goes run from $1.50 to $60. The only forms of poker available for SNG action are NLHE and PLO/8. Multi-table tourneys consist mostly of micro- and small-buyin events, but there is a $100 + $9 every night that guarantees $10,000 along with a Sunday Big Ticket MTT that costs $150 + $12 and awards at least $40,000 to the victors.

Deposits and Withdrawals

Carbon Gaming lets you fund your account only through crypto-currencies: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash. However, altcoins aren't supported for withdrawals, and because Carbon has removed traditional cashout methods for many customers, Bitcoin is the only payment channel available.

Carbon Poker has some of the stingiest payout policies among all internet poker companies. Players can get only a single free withdrawal per year. After this one gratis annual cashout, they have to pay 3% of the sum of the withdrawal as a fee. Moreover, the maximum payout is just $2,500, so people who win substantial amounts steadily over time can't let them accumulate and then withdraw them all once a year for free.

By contrast, most other online gambling enterprises are happy to provide unlimited Bitcoin withdrawals without levying any surcharges. They tend to be speedier also than Carbon, which usually takes about four days to send bitcoins to players' wallets.

Carbon Poker Promotions

Carbon's welcome bonus is a fairly standard 100% up to $1,000 deal that's worth approximately 20% rakeback. The bonus is released in increments of $10, and monthly reloads permit customers who have already claimed the first deposit offer to still obtain free cash over time.

Unfortunately, bonuses are just about the only way to obtain extra value at this room. The Player Points you earn at the tables are useless and cannot be traded in for anything. The daily cash game leaderboards that used to grace the site were terminated in January 2017, and nothing has taken their place. In the pre-Black Friday years, Carbon was hailed for the frequency and lucrativeness of its many freerolls, but there's now only a single $100 daily freeroll. And even this lone freeroll isn't open to everybody – there's a rake requirement to get in.

Poker Players Not Appreciated at Carbon

Though Carbon used to be one of the most well-respected gaming organizations in the industry, that started to change when a new ownership group took control of it in 2012. The new owners, Jazette Enterprises (now Domain Holdings), view poker as a low-margin distraction, and they prefer to concentrate their efforts on their sportsbook and casino divisions instead. Sadly, this attitude on the part of Carbon management comes through loud and clear in the way they treat their poker users.

Profitable rakeback deals used to entice players to sit at the Carbon tables, but rakeback was discontinued in 2013. For a while, there was a VIP club to reward regular customers, but this program was also shut down after about a year. Today, there isn't a loyalty club, points-to-cash, rakeback or any other system to give back to frequent players.

Even worse is the fact that the poker room sometimes bans those who are able to beat the games. Others have the maximum number of tables they can play at capped. Both of these tactics are intended to keep money circulating around the site, being raked off all the while, until the majority of it winds up in the pockets of Carbon. Winning poker sharks interrupt this process by the sordid acts of actually increasing their account balances and requesting withdrawals, which Carbon does not like to see.

Affiliates Not Valued Either

While the intricacies of the affiliate marketing world aren't likely to be of much interest to everyday players, they're actually pretty important for the poker economy. You see, affiliates help spread the word about a site and bring in new customers, which is essential to the health of any gaming business.

This makes it shocking that Carbon Poker opted, in June 2015, to terminate its affiliate program. Not only did it stop paying high-traffic websites to direct customers its way, but the firm actually reneged on its promises to pay for users that had already signed up at the room through the hard work of affiliates.

It's no wonder that the average number of cash game players seated at Carbon's tables, which used to be higher than 1,500, has dropped to around 100. This is just what happens when a company stops trying to attract new customers and indeed appears not to care very much about keeping its existing customers happy either.

Better Options Abound

Even as Carbon is seemingly content to run its poker room into the ground, savvy competitors, like Ignition Casino and Americas Cardroom, have stepped up their efforts by introducing new game formats, additional cashier processors and bigger tournaments. To find out more about the ways in which Carbon and its sister sites, and fall short, check out this detailed Carbon Poker review.

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