Every online Poker traffic analyist site is going nuts these weeks! Spring has been amazing this year ... not necessarily the weather although it has been very nice here in Luxembourg over the duration of my already +six-week self-isolation (6 weeeeeeks?! - OMG!!).
As a non-stop traveling Poker player, photo reporter and film maker, this has been an experience I had not tested for 10-15 years. I cannot really tell but it has been longer than I can spontaneously remember since I stayed for so long in the same spot and I am not even mentioning the fact of staying in the same house. As a homeless rounder, the movement restrictions brought a lot of interrogations about myself. Not only was I (and I still am very much) worried about the future of my projects in the film and photo industry, I also had to face the prospect of not being able to go back to the live Poker tables ... potentially for months ...
One of the answers to the coronatilt was clear and pretty straight forward: transiting back to online Poker that I had deserted as a source of substential revenue for years. Obviously, I did not expect it to be easy and I mobilised some coaching help but it quickly became very clear that I was not the only one who had this idea with a lot of confined recreationals and semi-noobs who decided to go back more intensively to trying to catch some digital fish. Some of the friends I have been chatting with had not raised a digital big blind since the carnage of Black Friday and yet, here they were again.
The average March and April online Poker crowds have been amazing with 5-year-record-highs reported by the likes of Cardplayer, HighstakesDB or PokerNews based on reports published by GameIntel or pokerindustryPRO. As a Luxembourg resident, I have access to pretty much everything online Poker has to offer right now, which made it sort of difficult to set goals and a defined game plan. PokerStars and PartyPoker were booming for sure but Winamax was also exploding with accounts I had never ever tracked before. Fresh blood everywhere! I also tested some new grounds for me like 888poker or Natural8 / GGpoker and I even ended up playing in some super soft clubs in PS home games, Pokio and even PPPoker. It's been lush and it still is!!
PokerNews France reported on the French market last week claiming that cash game traffic had basically doubled from early March to mid-April with a traffic that almost tripled (!!!) on Winamax and Italy saw an increase of 240% on its online Poker networks according to pokerindustryPRO, the highest traffic since 6 years.
More globally, PokerStars celebrated the 14th anniversary of the mother of all online MTTs, the Sunday Million, with half the planet on lockdown. It's been huge with more than 93k entries for a prize pool of +$18.5 million. PokerStars remains by far the largest online poker site and the COVID-19 outbreak meant excellent business for them just like it did for online shopping giants like Amazon. According to PokerScout, the PS weekly cash game player pool almost reached 10k players while IDNPoker, the second-largest site worldwide, barely passed the 6k mark in terms of cash game action. Back in the early 2010s, Full Tilt was ranking second behind PS with an average weekly player pool of roughly 3k. Today, 3k is rank 4 only behind Winamax that reached approximately 4.5k with mostly French and Spanish players besides other European customers who live in areas that allow them to register as customers on the French market leader platform.
Unfortunately, like for the COVID-19, this Poker insanity curve also seems to be flattening now. Later this week, April credit card counts will be debited from people's bank accounts. This will hurt a lot for some and it will probably make them wish they had binge-watched more series or walked their dog more often :p What is more, deconfinement, at least partial, has been announced for many countries from mid-May. Time to go back to work for those who still have one and time to find a new one for those who lost it.
Is the stagnation after this unexpected online Poker boom the beginning of the end of the big 2020 spew? Most probably it is but we're still not going back to the live Poker tables for a long time so the question remains how the markets and providers will adapt within the ongoing market shifts as many live Poker brands are sometimes deciding to keep their festivals schedules by turning some of their live festivals into online events. Will we have an online W.S.O.P. this year? Will PokerStars carry out E.P.T.s in digital versions. PartyPoker, W.P.T. or the Irish Poker Open have been showing the way already and King's has recently teamed up with GGpoker advertising huge online cash game rounds including celebrities. Sure, it's not the same but it's still that or nothing right now.
Personally speaking, nothing trumps a good old flight in a cramped airliner that brings me to a sunny place where I can chill by the ocean after busting a tournament. I don't see myself evolve as an online pro. At least, not for now, not yet ... but I'm getting ready for it. So please, please, please, keep spewing! :D