The global lockdown introduced in February has had different effects on the world. Indeed, it has been a burden on the economy, but many people have found ways to keep themselves entertained without necessarily spending too much money online. From video gaming to poker, there are many hobbies that people have found a rewarding way to pass the time in the conditions of a pandemic.
Poker, in particular, has seen a massive surge in online traffic, and that surge hasn’t let up as the world has begun to reopen slowly and the economy to return to normal. Of course, some players have quit, feeling a little intimidated by poker as a game that requires a deeper understanding and grasp of probabilities.
Overall, though, traffic has remained intact, partly because poker hasn’t yet returned to the biggest casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and Atlantic City. Even the World Series of Poker had to relocate online in an unprecedented decision by the organization for the 2020’s event.
How Much Did Online Poker Traffic Grow During the Pandemic?
Pinpointing the growth of online poker traffic during the pandemic could prove a little difficult. Each company is relatively independent, and it usually keeps such data close to the chest, as a good poker player would do. Yet, most online cardrooms have admitted that they have seen surges in terms of raw numbers of players during the lockdown.
Exact percentages are not entirely accurate, but according to research and analytics websites such as Poker Industry Pro, the global poker traffic grew by at least 50% in March and April 2020.
Based on the available information as of April 7, 2020, there were 25,000 registered cash games seats, pointing to a significant surge in the poker dot-com domain. Of course, 25,000 concurrent players may not look as much, but unlike other forms of online gaming, poker is deeply rooted in skill and, in many ways, difficult to master.
According to Global Poker, a brand focusing on the United States, some 40 million people in the United States played poker either online or live. According to the platform, there was a 255% increase in poker traffic once the lockdown kicked in.
Lockdown Pushes Australia’s Gambling Numbers Up
Australian gambling has surged as well and not surprisingly too. Australia is the country in the world with the highest percentage of active gamblers of the population. New York Times described Australians as the biggest gamblers and biggest losers, hinting at Australians’ unequivocal love for pokies.
Speaking of pokies, traffic for online gambling has increased dramatically since March, even though it has experienced a few disastrous months. Interest in online gambling has remained high, but the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has cautioned players to avoid illegal sites as those posed dangers to consumers.
For those playing poker online in Australia, the conditions have proven quite favorable as well. Online poker traffic has surged not only for those living in the United States but also for Aussie players.
Most online cardrooms have reported increases ranging from 50% to 60%. With more players joining, the community prize pools have been growing, and cash games have been chugging along at a decent pace. Lockdown hasn’t been bad for all. Yet, despite the surge in traffic, most industry experts have decided to ask the right questions.
The first and most important one is: How to make sure poker traffic doesn’t decline after lockdown measures begin to get lifted?
Cashing in on Traffic in the Long-Term
With a lot of fresh blood coming to join the digital poker tables, there have been plenty of veteran poker players cashing in. Rookies also referred to as “the fish” in poker vernacular, are easy prey to the hardened players who have put in enough hours to know how poker operates and make a quick buck off unwitting players.
Naturally, it’s great for a poker player to bleed an opponent dry of their stack, but this has proven too discouraging to players who wanted to use this opportunity to come in and play. Of course, some have been able to pass the crucible and found games that have a softer entry-level, sticking around and learning the games far from the predators.
Some platforms have reported small declines in their numbers, but the see-sawing lockdown measures have kept players fairly active and active in pre-pandemic terms. To make sure they retain the better part of novices, however, companies have been developing new formats, offering various incentives, and bolstering their libraries of learning materials for new players to experience.
Card rooms have a unique opportunity to consolidate their player bases and grow them organically over a short period at an unprecedented rate. The WSOP’s decision to rotate their event online has undoubtedly been a huge plus.
No Decline Yet, Some Expected in Future
Naturally, people won’t have as much time to spend playing poker, so online poker traffic is bound to fall off in the coming months. The good news is that if card rooms pull their weight, they should retain a good deal of players.
Not everyone will play competitively, nor is that a necessity. Poker is a competitive game to its very core, but players who want to enjoy or play against similarly-matched players can find opportunities. It’s essential to improve one thing in online poker, though.
That’s match-making. Many players who are more advanced in their skill level would pray on the penny tables, discouraging others. Of course, over-policing card rooms could be negative to the industry and push away players. A balance should be sought and enforced.
With poker traffic remaining steady and the WSOP online event coming up later this year, we will see poker interest continue to grow. The solid financial backing the game often gets is another reason why we can expect traffic to increase. With more people staying home in the foreseeable future, lockdown poker traffic should remain reasonably intact.