As the new year begins, a look at online cash game player traffic finds PokerStars in its familiar spot perched atop the industry as it has been for the last three years. An average of 19,000 players is well more than the rest of the industry’s other top ten poker rooms and networks combined.
888poker is holding down 2nd place, with 2,400 ring game players, while the iPoker Network claims 3rd by averaging 2,000 players in a seven-day period. Keep your eye on the traffic at iPoker, as the new year kicks off with the world’s leading poker network implementing a new source based rake (SBR) system that favors recreational players.
The new SBR player valuation formula does not directly affect players, as rake and fees taken by iPoker skins remains the same. But players will likely be indirectly affected, as it is anticipated that certain poker rooms within the network may adjust the rewards of their player loyalty programs. It may result in some grinders deciding to play elsewhere in 2015.
Rounding out the top five are Full Tilt in 4th with a 1,800-player average, while PokerScout tallies find PartyPoker in 5th at 1,500. PartyPoker moved up a notch from last week.
Also on the ascent was PokerStars.it, who climbed up to 6th place and currently averages 1,450 players. If some sites climb in the rankings, at least one has to descend, and the poker room that took a tumble was Bodog/Bovada, now mired in 7th place while averaging 1,400 anonymous players. Bovada continues to lead the U.S.-facing (unregulated) market.
Winamax (1,200), PokerStars.es (1,200) and Adjarabet (1,150) complete the top ten. PokerStars’ offering in France just missed the cut, averaging an even 1,000 cash players.
U.S. Unregulated Market
Trailing Bovada among U.S.-friendly sites are four poker networks that are operating offshore and are perhaps always in danger of facing the wrath of the DoJ and a possible shutdown. Merge (575), Chico (450), the Winning Poker Network (300) and the Equity Poker Network (190) continue to service the American market as unregulated offerings.
As do the Bitcoin-only SealswithClubs (110), the seemingly forgotten Revolution Poker Network (100), and Lock Poker (26). Players in the U.S. who want to play online poker and are not located in Nevada, New Jersey or Delaware have no alternative at present other than to deposit and play at sites that are not regulated by U.S. authorities.
If you happen to be one of those players (count me in), surely you know that the risk taken is your own and it’s advisable to withdraw often and keep your bankroll as low as possible. Unless, of course, you are or were a Lock Poker player, in which case your attempts to withdraw will likely be ignored and result in frustration and heartache.
Regulated U.S. Market
On the regulated side of the ledger, the Party Borgata Network in New Jersey leads the pack as 2015 begins, with a seven-day player average of 150. Not far behind are the WSOP.com offerings in Nevada (140) and NJ (120). The All American Poker Network (888poker) in the Garden State follows with 80 players.
There are other players (sites) in the regulated U.S. online poker market that are hardly worth a mention. Real Gaming In Nevada continues to struggle in finding its footing, while online poker in Delaware remains severely restricted by its low population. Expect The First State’s interstate launch under a partnership with Nevada to commence sometime this year.
PokerScout reports that 2014 ended with the online poker industry averaging 17% less players than the end of 2013. For those numbers to significantly improve by the end of 2015, it’s likely that new states must jump on the regulated bandwagon. As most are aware, the states to watch are California, Pennsylvania and New York.