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Online Poker Registers 5-Year High; Result of COVID-19

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It has been no secret that online poker has had its ups and downs where volume of traffic is concerned. This is especially true in the United States, where poker rooms that have held plenty of wonder and awe initially, have since tapered off and registered all-time lows in recent months – case in point, New Jersey.

However, things have finally taken a turn for the better – and it’s all thanks to COVID-19. The virus that is sweeping the world at the moment has forced many people to stay indoors, and most analysts think that this is the reason for the sharp upturn in online poker room traffic.

Online Poker Traffic Surging

Poker Journalist Displays Graph of 5-Year-High

While some had predicted that there would be an upswing in the number of people opting to play online games, the first real visual evidence of this being the case was delivered through Twitter by poker journalist Nick Jones. Sending out a Tweet on Sunday, Mar. 22, Jones posted an image of a graph displaying poker traffic. On it, a 7-day running average is displayed starting from just before July of 2015 and running right up to the end of February/beginning of March 2020.

Tweet of Poker Traffic Graph 2015 - 2020

At the time of the post, Jones also stated that the traffic figures would cross into the 45,000 average concurrent players within the next couple of days. That, he stated, would set a new high that hasn’t been seen since 2015.

Furthermore, it’s quite clear from looking at the graph that there’s an upcycle in the number of players accessing online poker in the winter months of the northern hemisphere. On the opposite side of this, during the summer, clear dips can be seen on the same graph. However, the general direction of online poker overall since the 2015 period has been a steady decline. The spike for the last couple of weeks has helped the traffic figure soar from about 32,000 players to more than 40,000 though.

It’s odd to think that the coronavirus pandemic is the main cause of this, especially considering that it’s really not great to have to provide a certain sort of thanks to something so dangerous. Yet, it seems as though COVID-19 has forced many people to stay home as requested by authorities around the world. Because of this, there’s more time for people to access online gambling sites, including poker. Granted, the lockdown has been put in place so as to stop the spread of the virus, but it has had, as a byproduct, quite a positive impact on the online poker scene.

Poker seems to be attracting a lot of custom among sports bettors. While online casinos and poker rooms are doing just fine right now (actually, more than just fine), sportsbooks are a different story because most of the events that people are accustomed to betting on have been canceled.

Thus, individuals who like to put their money down on athletic contests must either shift over to another form of real money gaming or else keep their action on the sidelines for the time being. Poker is more appealing than bingo or casino games, in the eyes of many of these bettors, because it involves skill, just as correctly picking sports winners does.

PokerStars Tournament Generates Record-Setting Number of Entries

While online poker overall has experienced a big upswing in the number of people participating in it, the latest tournament hosted by Pokerstars has also generated a record of its own.

The international Sunday Millions tournament broke the record for number of entries on March 22 and also generated a huge prize pool of $18.6 million. With such figures, it was one of the largest online poker tournaments in history to date. In fact, the prize pool was noted by PokerStars as being the largest in its own history.

There were over 60,000 players, generating 93,016 entries in total, with each entry having a buy-in fee of $215. That number of entries went above and beyond the previous record set in 2011, which stood at a comparatively measly 62,116.

Eventually, the tournament was won by a player from Brazil with the username “AAAArthur”. The final four agreed that they would split up the $3.67 million in prize money, meaning that the Brazilian victor took home $1,192,802 and runner-up “CrAzY_sTeFaN” bagged himself a nice $921,328.

The upturn in prize pools for PokerStars USA tournaments has increased at a rate of about 40% in the last two weekends, according to president Matt Primeaux. When you consider that online poker is only operative in four states within the US (Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and the latest with legal poker, Pennsylvania), those figures are quie astounding. And it seems as though Pennsylvania is providing a lot of this traffic itself, wih the Sunday showcase prize pool increasing from $50,000 to $105,000 within a two-week period.

Offshore Poker Networks Report Increase in Traffic of Up to 400%

Naturally, outside of the four states that provide legal online poker to US residents, there has also been an increase in the uptake of poker gameplay. Traffic has considerably improved for such poker networks as Pai Wang Luo and the Chico Network. Some have reported an increase in traffic of up to 400%.

That’s quite the beneficial upswing in traffic, especially for sites like Ignition Poker (which utilizes the Pai Wang Luo network). There, the return of the Black Diamond Poker Open kicked off on Friday, Feb. 28 and continued on for a four-week period, only drawing to a close on Tuesday, Mar. 31. The tournament witnessed an increased number of entrants as those weeks went by, and this spells a great immediate future for Ignition.

High Stakes Games Added to Black Chip Poker

Of course, it didn’t long for online poker rooms to get wise to this increase in traffic, and some have taken the opportunity to include a selection of higher stakes games to their lobbies. That’s not a bad thing either, because it means that more players get to involve themselves in vying for some great cash prizes.

In fact, several of the recommended poker rooms at ProfessionalRakeback have taken the decision to introduce a selection of new high-stakes games. Black Chip Poker is one such poker room, which now has 75/150 and 200/400 no rathole tables available to play, and they are available for both No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) Poker and Pot Limit Omaha (PLO), too. Both of those games run on a daily basis for the moment with up to four tables of 75/150 PLO being active on weekends for players to enjoy.

Black Chip Poker is a part of the Winning Poker Network (WPN), which has also registered a general increase in traffic number over the past couple of weeks. Alongside Black Chip Poker, Americas Cardroom operates on the WPN, and both have a high volume of traffic from the United States.

More Tournaments on the Way

The next few months will see more big tournaments coming to online poker sites, including the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) hosted by PokerStars and the first ever World Poker Tour (WPT) Online hosted by PartyPoker. With this being the case, it will be interesting to see how long the increase in poker traffic continues relating to these and other tournaments. Could it continue on at such a rate once the threat of COVID-19 has faded away?

Time will tell on that front, as the truth could be that people are using any unused or refunded vacation money on the poker services for the moment. Yet, with an uncertain immediate future for world economies and peoples’ jobs, is online poker a sustainable option for this volume of traffic to continue going forward?

Be that as it may, right now is the perfect time to jump into the world of internet poker if you have not yet done so. The combination of higher traffic, inexperienced players, and huge tourney guarantees has led to a lot of money being thrown around at the virtual tables, but you cannot pick up your share of it unless you take a seat at the tables. Read through our USA offshore poker guide to learn more about how to get started and the best sites to play at.