Another week of declining player traffic makes six in a row, which has been a familiar refrain in 2014. Nine weeks out of the last 10 have seen less cash game player traffic than the previous week.
It was roughly seven weeks ago that 2005 WSOP Main Event champion Joe Hachem lit a match under the poker community by stating “I think poker is dying and it’s dying because it’s no longer fun for people to play.” Sorry to say, with regard to online poker, Hachem’s words seem to be ringing true as the situation has gotten worse instead of better.
Something must surely be done to inject new life (money) into the game to bring back players who may have left, as well as to attract those who have yet to discover the game (deposit). Perhaps greater attention should be focused upon converting social poker players who now number 38,500 at Zynga Poker and 21,000 at the play-money tables on PokerStars, according to PokerScout statistics.
That’s a huge untapped market that is one deposit away from possibly turning out everyday real-money players. If there were more social and recreational fun player experiences for first-time depositors, it’s possible that the industry would keep new cash players coming back.
As it stands now, some players who do try real-money online poker may be retreating back to play-money tables due to unfavorable experiences or lack of fun at the cash games. It’s uncertain if this is actually happening, but the declining player numbers suggest it to be so.
In any event, last week’s drop in traffic was 3%. That follows a 4% decline from the week before. This time last year, cash tables throughout the industry had 14% more action. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record.
Feeling the major brunt of the decline are the French-facing sites of Winamax and PokerStars.fr. Both have 25% less players than this time last year. The decrease in action in that region of the world is more likely due to the high taxes imposed, but a lack of recreational players certainly plays a part. The drop in players caused PokerStars.fr to fall out of the top ten and allowed Adjarabet to take sole possession of that position.
Other position shifting within the top ten saw PartyPoker pull into a third place tie with the iPoker Network as of this writing. The Points Hunt promotion at PartyPoker in which players can earn an additional $300 weekly by reaching a points target may be responsible for the traffic increase.
Elsewhere, Switch Poker has copied the playbook of PokerStars by offering a cash bonus for players who participate in the site’s 12 millionth hand. Well, the entire playbook wasn’t copied, as there will be only one milestone hand payed out and the bonus will be €500 split equally among those who contribute to the pot. Switch Poker tallies play-money and real-money hands together, so if the big one occurs at a play-money table, the prize will go to the next real-money hand.
New Jersey’s Party Borgata Network is also staging a milestone hand promo on the road to 30 million. Next up is the 27 millionth hand that PokerScout estimates will hit on Thursday. Players in the Garden State who enjoy milestone hand action may want to log on around lunchtime on that day.