For the first time in 15 years, PokerStars lost leadership in terms of traffic at cash tables. How did this happen, what is the reason for the change of leader and how will it affect the industry?
How PokerStars Kept the Leadership in Cash Traffic for 15 Years
In October 2006, the US passed UIEGA, a law prohibiting the acceptance of deposits from US players. This law forced the then industry leader partypoker to leave the market. And since then, PokerStars has moved to the first line of the rankings and held the lead for over 15 years.
Since 2006, the average value of traffic in cash at PokerStars has not dropped below 5,000 players. And no other poker room came close to this indicator. All this time, Stars have been holding the lead in terms of the traffic volume in the cache. Two out of three hands are played online every day at the “red spades” tables.
But PokerStars’ hegemony in the poker room market could not last forever. The abolition of the loyalty program (virtually no rakeback), the absence of promotions for cash players – and every year the volume of traffic on PokerStars was decreasing. And he got to the point where he dropped to an all-time low of 4,800 players. And then the young and daring room GGPOKEROK took the first place in the ranking with 5,000 online players.
How GGPOKEROK took over from PokerStars
Room GGPOKEROK was launched in 2017. At first, there were two main reasons for the traffic growth: rakeback up to 60% and amateur players from Asia. And in 2020, thanks to the cooperation with the WSOP, GGPOKEROK traffic has tripled compared to 2019.
The GGPokerOK Phenomenon: How a Room Noun turned into a WSOPC Venue
In June 2021, traffic in the cache on GG is 60% higher than in June 2020. In comparison, the rest of the poker rooms lost 35% of their traffic compared to last year.
And on June 21, the average of GGPOKEROK players reached 5,006, while PokerStars dropped to 4,981. However, PokerStars is still in the lead in terms of peak value per day. But in terms of the average number of players per week, they are lagging behind.
Three important caveats about the traffic leaderboard
To be fair, it is worth noting a few inaccuracies in calculating traffic volumes.
- The rating reflects only the traffic volume of cash games and does not take into account MTT, SNG, Spins and other disciplines. Therefore, the picture cannot be considered complete and objective.
- The rating reflects only the number of occupied places in the cash at the same time at all tables. How was this traffic counting feature used? Pokermatch, you can read here. That is, the rating does not reflect the “quality composition” of traffic: how many micro-stakes, high rollers and mid-stakes players are hidden under these numbers.
- PokerStars and GGPOKEROK have different policies to enter new markets. Flutter (parent company of PokerStars) was forced out of the gray markets last year. GG is also leaving some markets, for example, in November 2019, the network left Colombia, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland. Still, GG has access to more markets than PokerStars, and the network continues to be active in jurisdictions that other poker rooms consider risky to explore.
How a change of leader will affect the industry
The traffic rating in the cache is a litmus test that reflects the current state of the market and the affairs of the rooms within it. PokerStars has been chipping away at their poker product for far too long, promoting casinos and sports betting. They noted this in their annual report at the beginning of the year. And now Flutter has pledged to invest more in poker.
Leadership for GGPOKEROK means only one thing: the guys do their job and do it well, launching new disciplines and capturing other markets not mastered by competitors.