The start of the year seems unfortunate for multiple businesses as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic aggressively hits various industries all over the world.
With the majority of the population forced to remain at home, people’s options and access to the outside is strongly limited. Luckily, despite live events on a global scale being cancelled until further notice, poker players have infinite access to real money gaming, pushing the online poker industry to increasing heights.
As seen lately in a number of platforms, stupendous tournament success, huge turnouts and great action have been pumping the online poker scene which will unbelievably continue on as the pandemic’s end remains to be unquestionable.
With the current economic slowdown and quarantines imposed, online poker traffic was already expected to increase. The shutdown of non-essential businesses across the globe, which included casinos and poker rooms alike, brought live poker to a halt in response to the ongoing health emergency. The online gaming operators are presently experiencing, what we can say is a look back into the pre-Black Friday era with the ever expanding player pool on its platforms.
Five-year look at global online poker traffic.
In the next couple of days it will set a new high, crossing into 45,000 average concurrent players. pic.twitter.com/WDQ1dAEx56
— Nick Jones (@pokerprojones) March 22, 2020
Poker journalist, Nick Jones, shared some data to his following, revealing online poker traffic at a five year high. In his graph, Jones conveys a running 7-day moving average of the number of average concurrent players online. The data presented dates as far back as July 2015 up until now and shows the annual rise cycle during winter months and an inevitable dip during the summer time. The beginning of 2020 recorded data hovering around the 30,000 to 32,500 mark and saw a spike to over 40,000 in the recent weeks.
This apparently follows after PokerStars’ largest tournament in online poker history last weekend. The 14th Anniversary Sunday Millions attracted a humongous turnout of 60,898 unique players and an additional 32,188 re-entries to build a prize pool of $18,603,200, which exceeded the guarantee by 48.8%.
With a number of big online series like SCOOP, the first ever WPT Online, Poker Masters Online, 2020 Irish Poker Open and so on coming up, a continued rise can steadily be expected with the outbreak unfortunately ceasing to die down. The surging interest, possibly temporary, has poker players eager to grab a massive payout and make the most out of the situation.
Staff writer for pokerindustrypro.com, Pokerfuse and F5poker, Anuj Arora, likewise presented a graph similar to Jones’s revealing the Indian online poker market to be at an all-time high. The data provided by GameIntel conveys a running 7-day moving average of the number of average concurrent players online as well. The graph begins with the week of December 30, 2019 up to the present showing a familiar spike in correspondence with last week’s events.
Lockdown Day 2: Indian online poker market is at an all-time high (just like most of the other markets)@PokerStarsIN saw the highest spike of 36% in the last week but still behind its local competitors. @Adda_52, @Spartan_Poker and @PokerBaazi each grew by approx 18-25% pic.twitter.com/EEE0Du0kza
— Anuj Arora (@anuj2212) March 24, 2020
In his twitter post, Arora states that PokerStars India saw the highest spike of 36% in the previous week but still behind its local competitors. Adda52, Spartan Poker and PokerBaazi, on the other hand each grew by approximately 18-25% in traffic.
European and Italian Market
As a large part of European countries continue to be strongly affected by the global pandemic, reports have shown a dramatic increase in online poker traffic as well. Nick Jones relayed in a series of graphs focusing solely on the European market, an overall increase in online cash games and tournament poker.
The Italian market especially, has crossed over 2,000 concurrent seats which has not been evident since the peak of 2017. PokerStars.it traffic can be seen to have spiked more than double in its recent weeks according to the data provided by GameIntel and presented by pokerindustrypro.com . IPoker Italy and Peoples Poker have seen similar though more modest gains in the 50%-100% area.
PokerStars in Italy makes up the largest segment of the market. Its traffic has more than doubled in the last 2 weeks. Single-day figures suggest it may have trebled.
iPoker Italy and Peoples Poker have seen similar though more modest gains in the 50%-100% area. pic.twitter.com/89oMMFoHfi
— Nick Jones (@pokerprojones) March 16, 2020
More evidence on the country’s booming online poker industry is the success of its weekly tournaments garnering mind blowing turnouts and attracting an average of four times the entrants to cover its guarantees.
Other online platforms have also seen roughly a notable 10% growth in the last few weeks in addition to their consistent growth throughout the year. With online gaming operators in a prime position with regards to the current situation, there is potentially a huge opportunity to expect in the coming months.
With limited options as of the moment, the US market is no exception to the increase in online poker traffic. WSOP.com, the major legal online poker operator in Nevada, reported recent traffic that is 46% higher than during its yearly peak when the World Series of Poker is taking place at the Rio. And that usual summer peak is double or triple the site’s normal daily traffic, said Seth Palansky, Vice President of corporate communications for the WSOP.
Their Online Super Circuit Series, in response to the postponed live circuit tournament events, has reportedly generated 7,849 entries and $2.343 million in total prize pools through twelve events. The record-breaking series has shattered all its guarantees to almost double in value or even triple for a few tournaments.
The @WSOPcom Online Super Circuit Series has now generated 7,849 entries and $2.343 million in total prize pools through 12 events. That's nearly double what the original total guarantees were, which was $1.24 million. Still six events to go.
— Donnie Peters (@Donnie_Peters) March 26, 2020
The massive success of the online circuit, which is scheduled to run until March 31, 2020, will immediately bring about a new tournament series with total guarantees of around $4 million, as compared with about $1.5 million for the current series, Palansky said. The Vice President also reported Cash game traffic to be way up and account sign-ups to be at their highest since the site has opened.
“When you’ve got ’em, keep it going,” he said.
A Partial Overview of the Total Growth
Global data shows online poker to be back at its most recent high dating as far back as 2015. Given the recorded increase in traffic, it is also evident that the poker market has since evolved.
A lot of the action in online gaming is now shared with mobile applications offering players the ability to create their own home games. Poker applications such as PPPoker, Upoker and Pokerbros have also seen exponential growth in its action but traffic on these applications is not accounted in the data presented which suggest and even higher global number of active players.