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Is It Better to Play at Ignition Poker or Carbon Poker?

Americans looking for the best online poker sites for real money often come across Ignition Poker and Carbon Poker. The question has probably crossed your mind: Which of these poker solutions is better? We're ready to give you detailed information on this topic with a thorough Ignition vs Carbon overview. We'll judge the two U.S. sites against each other using the following criteria: ring game action, tournament lineups, rakeback possibilities, promotional offerings, and the robustness of their cashier methods.

Ingition Poker or Carbon Poker?

About the Contestants

Carbon, the flagship site of the Merge Network, became the new home for many U.S.A. online poker fans after PokerStars and Full Tilt withdrew from the U.S. market in 2011. Merge dominated the ranks of online poker rooms still serving Americans, and its future seemed bright. However, it has dropped the ball since that time and become just another middle-of-the-pack poker provider. Among the reasons for its decline are the elimination of its player rewards program and the decision to forgo the services of affiliates in its marketing endeavors.

Ignition, on the PaiWangLuo Network, is an offshoot of Bovada Poker, which decided to stop offering poker and transferred its poker-related operations to Ignition in late 2016. Nevertheless, players today still experience more or less the same action at the tables as they enjoyed at Bovada, which had grown to become the largest U.S.-facing site. Many attribute its success to the development of a recreational player model, which gives newcomers a safe and secure feeling because of the implementation of anonymized tables and other measures to discourage professional cardsharps.

Ring Games

For No Limit Texas Hold'em, the stakes at Carbon run from $0.05/$0.10 to $2/$5. Ignition has all of these levels (except for $2/$5 – replaced by $2/$4 instead), but it also features games outside of this restricted spectrum. The highest NLHE tables at Ignition are $10/$20 while the lowest listed are $0.02/$0.05. It's the same story when we look at Fixed Limit Holdem, Pot Limit Omaha and Limit Omaha/8: In each case, the PaiWangLuo Network offers games at a broader range of blind levels than Merge does. Also, there's no PLO/8 at Carbon whereas its counterpart offers this popular big-bet, split-pot variant of four card poker.

Besides just taking into account the games listed in the lobby, we must also be cognizant of the number of players who actually sit at those tables. When we do so, Ignition pulls even further ahead of its competitor because it consistently attracts six or seven times as many cash players. Throw in fast-fold Zone Poker, totally absent from Carbon, and Ignition easily wins for ring games. In terms of cash game traffic, variety and range of stakes spread, the two rooms aren't even in the same category.

List of NLHE Stakes at Carbon and Ignition


Multi-table Tournaments

Both sites offer Sunday Major tourneys priced at $150 + $12, so it might seem at first glance that they're equal. However, the Merge Network's Big Ticket event guarantees only $40,000 while PaiWangLuo's offering pays out at least $100,000 every week. Both of them run nightly $10,000 guaranteed events with $109 buyins, so they're alike in this respect. At either site, you'll find a well-rounded lineup of smaller contests going as low as $1.

Carbon Poker is able to achieve its guarantees, which are very ambitious given its overall size, by keeping late registration open for three hours or more on its largest events, so this is a minor point against the Merge Network in the eyes of many. Yet, Carbon does offer a few HORSE and 7CS/8 tourneys Ignition doesn't have either so this is a small plus for Carbon.

The fields and prize pools in most of Ignition's schedule are larger than those at Carbon. Although there's a greater chance of benefiting from an overlay at Carbon, most people are more interested in taking home one of the sizeable top prizes in an Ignition tournament. After evaluating all the info, we give Ignition the edge for MTTs.


Neither of the sites we're dealing with today provides rakeback at all. They don't even have the VIP clubs that basically serve the same purpose as RB at many other sites. So there's no winner in terms of rakeback here. If you have your heart set on finding a place to play poker while receiving a regular percentage of your fees and rake deposited back to your account balance, then consult our list of rakeback offers.

Bonuses and Promos

The initial deposit bonuses at Ignition and Carbon are each 100% up to $1,000 matches. Don't let this fool you into thinking they're equivalent though – they're not. Carbon's bonus releases at a slow 5% cashback rate. It's tough to say exactly how quickly you'll earn out an Ignition bonus because the percentage paid back to you is greater if you clear less than the maximum, and also, tournaments contribute to releasing the bonus more than cash games do. For most players, it's worth anywhere from 20% - 50%, leaving Carbon in the dust.

Carbon could overcome this deficiency with a strong selection of ongoing promos, but it doesn't. There is a monthly poker reload, but most of these redeposit bonuses aren't any better than the initial bonus. You can't even collect points and trade them in for anything, like you can at Ignition. Now, don't get us wrong: The loyalty points scheme at Ignition doesn't exactly deliver a ton of value, but at least there is one however weak it may be. Ignition takes the victory with respect to promos.

Cashier Options

U.S. poker sites struggle to support more than a handful of withdrawal options, and neither of the two poker companies we're looking at now is an exception to this general rule. At Carbon, you can request a cashout via:

  • Check
  • Bank wire
  • e-wallet (non-US only)
  • Bitcoin

At Ignition, the methods available for sending you your winnings are:

  • Check
  • Bitcoin

Ignition doesn't serve an international clientele, so the lack of e-wallet capabilities isn't really a shortcoming. The fact that Carbon provides bank wires is a minor positive in its favor, but there's a huge negative that more than counterbalances this: It only allows one free withdrawal per year as opposed to one every four months at Ignition. More importantly, Ignition doesn't ever charge any fees on Bitcoin withdrawals, but Carbon does extract about 5% of the value of each BTC payout beyond the first in a year. Given the possibility of avoiding fees, Ignition is ahead cashier-wise. Familiarize yourself with the payout processing speeds of major U.S. poker firms with our real money offshore poker rooms payouts report.


The epic heads-up battle between Carbon and Ignition turns out to be completely one-sided. Ignition emerges from the contest with its head held high, having trounced its competitor 4-0. Find out how to sign up at this solid U.S. poker site by reading our informative review of Ignition. To learn more about the poker rooms that are available to Americans, browse over to our U.S. real money poker guide.


Summary of Carbon versus Ignition


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