Rakebacknation.com is where I've always gotten my rakeback (I'll have to talk to them about ads since I'm always giving them free press) and also where I've gone to discover new reliable poker sites. Your money isn't 100% safe on any site since you never know when they'll go under, but at least if you choose one of the sites listed on RBN you know they've been thoroughly checked out.
Right now they have 7 U.S. friendly poker sites listed, all of which were barely an afterthought two weeks ago. Interestingly enough those 7 sites are under only two umbrellas: Merge and Cake.
It's fairly common for sites to join forces and start a network. In those situations both sites feature the same cash games, but if you log in from site A, site A gets any rake you pay even if you're playing against some players from site B. Usually sites in these networks run their own tournaments and sit-n-gos, but lumping cash game players together makes it easier to create the critical mass required to have games running regularly.
Apparently the Merge Network is currently the most trafficked in the US with Carbon Poker as it's flagship room and RPM coming in second. The Cake Network, made up of Cake Poker, Doyle's Room and a few smaller sites is the other major player in U.S. online poker today.
If you ask me it won't take long for Cake and Doyle to overtake Merge and get out to a large lead. In a business with choices brand recognition is huge. Doyle's Room and Cake have been blasting me in the face with images of Doyle's road worn mug and massive cakes for years now. Every time I turn my head Doyle Brunson is spitting out some stolen quote about champions and Cake is telling me to eat more cake or scarf more chips.
Their competition is not nearly as entrenched and while I've played on Carbon Poker it was only to target a specific promotion and while doing so I often asked myself "What they hell are you doing playing on this bullshit site!?"
Sometime next weekend I'm going to poke around on the remaining U.S. options and evaluate the possibilities. Be sure to check back for that report and if you don't want to forget, sign up for e-mail alerts on the right side of this page.
Who do you think will win in the end?