Cash game player traffic in March was highlighted by the arrival of PokerStars NJ mid-month, as players in the Garden State are once again enjoying real money online poker under the famous red spade.
In less than two weeks, PokerStars NJ catapulted to the top of the ring-fenced New Jersey market, currently averaging 160 ring game players, according to PokerScout.com. The WSOP.com and 888poker tandem was pushed down to 2nd place with 140 cash gamers, while the Partypoker NJ and BorgataPoker network slipped to 3rd place with a 95-player average.
One month ago, WSOP/888 recorded a seven-day average of 190 players and Party/Borgata 140. That’s a 26% decrease for the former and 32% decline for the latter. However, PokerStars’ arrival has buoyed the overall NJ cash game market by almost 20%. The state’s poker sites combined now average 395 players, whereas at the end of February that total was 330.
In Nevada, the interstate partnership with Delaware saw traffic dip from 160 players to 150. PokerStars won’t be able to boost that market until at least 2018 due to a five-year wait as spelled out by the current statute.
While PokerStars NJ was attracting 20% more players during the month, rest-of-world sites did not fare as well. Seven of the industry’s top ten poker rooms and networks experienced a cash game player decline, two enjoyed gains, and one remained stable.
PokerStars was the lone site to show consistency, keeping pace with an industry-leading 17,000 players despite the recent announcement that rake will be increased by 4% on March 28. Third-ranked iPoker Network (1,400) and the eighth-slotted MPN (1,000) were the month’s gainers, 50 and 200 players, respectively.
The largest decreases in March were felt at Bodog/Bovada (1,250) with an estimated 450-player decline, PokerStars.it (1,100) lost 200 players, and Winamax.fr (1,100) saw its player average tumble by 150. The latter two poker rooms are tied for 6th place, while Bodog holds down the fourth slot.
Second-ranked 888poker (2,300) dropped 100 players, as did 10th place PokerStars.fr (700). Fifty-player losses went to Partypoker (1,150) and PokerStars.es (850), positioned 5th and 9th among the top ten.
The Winning Poker Network (750) saw its average fall by 50 players, but managed to creep into a 10th place tie with both PokerStars.fr and Adjarabet. Most of the top U.S. non-regulated sites experienced a decrease in ring game traffic in March.
The Chico Network (525) lost 75 players, while Horizon (130) and EPN (80) both dropped 20. The Merge Network (260) was the lone exception, as 40 more ring gamers took to the virtual tables in the past month.
Other sites located abroad that accept U.S. players include Betcoin Poker (35) and SWCPoker (30). Both feature deposit and withdrawal options in the virtual currency Bitcoin, which has made just a small dent in the world of online poker payment processing.