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Online Poker Player Traffic Update - March 18, 2014

Five straight weeks of declining player traffic have caused a number of industry insiders to fondly look back at the online poker industry’s glory days of about 10 years ago and compare the differences between then and now.

One difference that clearly stands out is that No-Limit Hold’em is now the game of choice among a large majority of players, while Fixed Limit tables were all the rage back then. Inexperienced (recreational) players tend to lose their money faster at No-Limit, thus leaving them with a bad poker-playing experience, which likely keeps some from ever returning to the game.

Perhaps a greater push toward promoting the virtues of Limit Hold’em would attract the casual crowd. The playing time and money of players typically lasts longer and is without the disturbing experience of losing all your money on one hand. Limit Hold’em requires a different mindset and strategy to be successful, and does lend itself to more socialization among players.

While five consecutive weeks of falling player numbers is bad enough, the gloom and doom is punctuated by the fact that eight of the last nine weeks have seen less players on the virtual felt than the week before. That’s practically all of 2014. To top it off, last week saw 4% less players, a rather steep drop that PokerScout attributes to favorable weather in Europe during the week. 

After being tied with PartyPoker for fourth place in last week’s update, Full Tilt now sits alone in fifth place a couple hundred players off the pace of bwin.party’s global offering. The only other change within the top ten finds Adjarabet and PokerStars.fr in a virtual tie for tenth place, a position that the French-facing site had all to its own the week before.

In other news of note regarding online poker rooms and networks, the Winning Poker Network (WPN) has decided to stop taking a fee from players participating in its “The Beast” leaderboard promotion. Beginning April 5, that promo will include all cash tables and will be funded only from a percentage of the rake reserved for the site operator. 

That’s good news for WPN players, especially grinders, who typically abhor seeing their cash going toward the funding of jackpot-type promos. WPN is second in player traffic among U.S.-friendly poker sites with only about 25% of the cash game action of industry leader Bodog/Bovada. Perhaps modification of The Beast will allow the network to gain some ground.

In New Jersey, Party Borgata dealt its 25 millionth hand last week and instituted a milestone hand promotion that saw a record number of cash players take to the felt. A total of 870 players were seated at ring game tables at one time, blasting past the old record of 729. 

Globally, 14% fewer players are logging on and playing poker at online sites in comparison to the third month of 2013. That includes a mild increase of action seen among U.S.-facing poker rooms that have benefited from $76 million landing in the pockets of U.S. Full Tilt players on Green Friday two and a half weeks ago.

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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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