Here I Compare Carbon And Lock Poker, Head-to-Head
Lock Poker buying the old ‘Cake’ network and renaming this Revolution Gaming has breathed new life into the US online poker scene. Merge, headed up by Carbon Poker, have been shaken from their previous dominant position – and players are the ones who benefit. Sure, it is not the same as pre black-Friday, however with bonuses and guarantees on the up – and deposits going relatively smoothly – now is a great time to check out US poker networks… the question is, which one?
This article compares Lock Poker and Carbon Poker on 5 different criteria ranging from game selection, software and bonuses / loyalty schemes. Each section will be scored as win or tie and at the end I will give you my choice of overall best site. Players looking for extra volume of games (or a bigger choice) can always try both sites side-by-side. I'll link to the detailed individual reviews at the end of this article.
One final note, while this article is primarily aimed at US readers, players worldwide should not rule out these excellent smaller sites!
Carbon Poker (Merge) Screenshots - Click To Enlarge
Lock Poker vs Carbon Poker Head-to-Head: Cash Games Selection
With peaks of 7k (Merge) and 6k (Revolution) the cash game selection is skewed towards the smaller ($1 / $2 blinds and below) buy-ins. You’ll find a lot of 6-max and a smaller selection of 9-max in NL Holdem, along with PLO and PLO hi-lo at both sites.
Carbon start with 2c / 4c blinds, while I have seen some $5 / $10 ($1000 buy-in) action in the evenings, most of the time the action tails off at $2 / $4. The bad-beat jackpot might have gone, but the player triggered in-game animations keep the games friendly and profitable. Heads-up games are available, along with a limited selection of Draw, Stud and Badugi. You’ll get the occasional grinders / bum-hunters on Merge – for me the standard of play is more on the recreational side, not the fish-fest from before Black-Friday, but definitely beatable!
Lock are very similar in profile. If anything they have more of the mid stakes games running, thanks to their ‘stable’ of pros. Again the action is at 2c / 4c up to 50c / $1 and focused on NL Holdem 6-max. PLO is busy on this network, though it looks like the previously busy PLO8 (Omaha Hi-Lo) has tailed off considerably. Heads-up games have a ton of tables with just 1 player waiting, these are usually specialists in this game – and I recommend you avoid playing them.
6 months ago this would have been a clear win for Merge. With the number and profile of the games so close I feel that the Revolution Gaming network have caught up – I’m scoring this one as a tie.
Lock Screenshots - Click To Enlarge
Lock Poker vs Carbon Poker Head-to-Head: Tournaments And SNGs
Guarantees have been on the up thanks to the rivalry between these two US friendly poker networks, especially the Sunday showcases. Lock trumped Carbon’s existing $100k by going to $110k guaranteed – only to see Carbon fight back with $125k. I hope to see this continue with these $109 buy-in games… the ball is in Lock’s court.
Most of us play smaller buy-in events. The majority of games at both networks are $22 and below. What I like about these smaller sites is that field sizes never get to the crazy 2000+ levels, 300 players means you will not need to sit up half the night every time you have a deep run.
Lock Poker have bounty events and a lot of rebuy / add-on tournaments, in addition to deepstacked tournaments, turbos and satellites (both live events and bigger online games covered). You will notice a lot of smaller guarantees ($350 to $3000 range) with buy-ins between $3 and $22. In addition to the $110k gtd Sunday major there is an additional $65k gtd ‘High Roller’ for those whose bankrolls stretch to the $530 buy-in.
Carbon Poker have a bigger selection of games in their tournament line up, including HORSE and more Omaha (inc Hi-Lo) variations + Draw and Badugi. NL Holdem and Omaha - games feature knockout bounties, rebuys and turbos as well as shootout variations and a ton of satellites + token games. There are more tournaments scheduled at Carbon, and a low average buy-in, with a lot in the $2 to $11 range. Bigger games include the $125k guaranteed Sunday event and regular satellite qualifiers which let you choose your live tournament destination with a $14k package which is paid in cash. Carbon have their own tournament event called Poker Maximus, which runs quarterly featuring some big tournaments for both smaller and large bankroll players.
SNGs at both sites are very similar, though the blinds at Lock are a little unusual! To stop this article getting too long I’ll direct you to my Best US SNG Site article for more on these.
Recreating the old tournament schedules is more difficult these days, though combining the two networks should give hardened tournament fans a decent selection. I’m scoring this as a win for Carbon Poker, who have a bigger game selection and the awesome Poker Maximus events too.
Carbon vs Lock Poker Head-To-Head: Software Clients
Software covers more than just the look and feel, playability and ease-of-use are key. For me, both networks have their shortcomings, and both have some cool features too.
Carbon did have one of the best clients around. Recent changes have made the look a little over-complicated, especially for casual / first time players who could easily be intimidated by the sea of buttons and options on the lobby. On the plus side the animations at the tables make up for this. These are triggered by players typing special keywords into the chat window and range from smileys to small cartoons. These might not appeal to everyone, however they do make the games fun, especially for recreational type players – and fun games can be very profitable!
Lock Poker have a far nicer lobby, this is simple and easy to get around – if the font size used was a little bigger this would be perfect. Tables are plain too, while they lack the animations, it is much easier to play on them that at Carbon. Add to this the cool monochrome styling and I have to give my vote to Lock Poker for software – the complex Carbon lobby is just too messy.
Carbon Poker vs Lock Poker Head-to-Head: Deposits And State Coverage
Depositing and Withdrawing are key topics. While this changes all the time, I am happy to report good progress recently. Carbon did go through a rough patch with their move to a brand new Antigua based system. This has now been completed and I am seeing a lot of deposits coming through. This new cashier speeded up the withdrawal process too. Lock were doing much better for deposits, with many credit cards going through first time. At the moment there are complaints about the speed of withdrawals, which can take up to 3 weeks. The good news is that these are reliable… they will get there in the end.
Carbon vs Lock Poker Head-to-Head: Bonuses and Promotions
Player welcome bonuses is another area which has benefited from the rivalry between Merge and Revolution. With the sites leapfrogging each other there are now 200% matched bonuses up to $4000 (Lock) and $5000 (Carbon) in addition to extras and some generous loyalty rewards.
Lock have the 200% to $4k matched bonus, clearing in $10 increments. The focus for Lock is the loyalty scheme and leadboards – they are making a big play of looking after their loyal players. The VIP scheme has 4 levels based on points collection and offers between 15% and 45% cash back paid daily. There are bonuses and tournaments on top of this. Leaderboards are for SNG and tournament fans, though cash game players get to take part in various ‘races’ which are usually dressed up as different promotions. You can claim your bonus withcode SNGPLANET when you make your first deposit at Lock Poker.
Carbon trumped the bonus race (for now) with a huge 200% up to $5k which also clears in $10 increments. In addition, new players get a poker calculator (with HUD) which is similar to products which cost around $100 to buy, though the free one is Merge-specific. For just one loyalty point you can also get a free month of training at pro training site ‘Drag The Bar’ on top. Your code (called coupon code at Carbon Poker) is CARBONPK, use this during the registration process.
Loyalty bonuses from Carbon also include daily cashback up to 45%, extra bonuses you can buy and tournament entries. Again, leaderboards and races are a big feature . Where Carbon stand out is with their reload bonuses, which seem to come every single month. These range from 50% through to 100% matched to additional deposits. With some smart money management you can take full advantage of these extras.
The reloads make the big difference for me, especially since most of us do not have the huge bankrolls needed to take full advantage of the $4k / $5k sign-up offers. Again Carbon Poker and the Merge Network get my vote.
Merge vs Revolution: My Pick + Next Steps
A clear winner, at least for now, with Carbon Poker getting 3 votes against 1 for Lock and 1 tie. I look forward to the rivalry between these sites developing and will be happy to change my mind should there be any major updates.
You can claim your initial 200% match + calculator + training for 1 point with coupon code CARBONPK. Check out my top-rated US friendly poker site for yourself now at www.carbonpoker.ag
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