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Online Poker Explodes While Brick-And-Mortar Braces For Another Week Of Shutdown

PokerStars Hosts Record-Setting Field In Sunday Million While Most Live Poker Is Temporarily Closed


The worldwide spread of COVID-19 brought most of the economy to a screeching halt as most major cities are placing restrictions on “nonessential businesses” from operating, with even harsher restrictions in countries where the outbreak is more severe.

Online poker, however, has thrived during the economic slowdown. With casinos closed and poker tournaments canceled, traffic has increased across the board on the web giving online players a flashback to the pre-Black Friday era of online poker.

Most U.S. casinos are closed for at least another week. Nevada casinos, however, are closed for an additional three weeks following Gov. Steve Sisolak’s 30-day closure of all “nonessential” businesses.

On a global scale, PokerStars celebrated the 14th anniversary of its famed Sunday Million tournament two days ago. With most of the world on lockdown, it was the largest Sunday Million in the tournament’s history.

The now two-day tournament attracted a whopping 93,016 entries and generated a prize pool of more than $18.6 million. The eventual winner will earn more than $1.5 million if there is no deal at the final table. PokerStars is by far the largest online poker site on the planet and has only become bigger in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The site has seen a seven-day average of 9,800 cash game players and 55,540 when including tournaments, according to PokerScout. IDNPoker, the second-largest site in the world, only has about 60 percent of Stars’ cash game action.

For reference, in 2013, when Full Tilt Poker was still operational, it was the second-largest online poker room with a seven-day average of 3,000 cash game players. That would be fourth on today’s list behind Winamax, which only serves French players.

In areas where coronavirus has impacted the local population worse than others, online has seen a sizable increase. Italy is a closed market where Italians can only play against players located within the country’s borders. When including tournaments, the traffic on Italian software is just shy of worldwide traffic.

In the U.S., all 465 commercial casinos are closed and 97 percent of the 524 tribal casinos are closed, according to gaming analyst Howard Stutz. The 16 locations that are still open are part of convenience stores.

According to the Bravo poker app, which lists all poker games running at casinos registered with their app, the only poker games running worldwide are at the Alea Glasgow casino in Scotland.

The app also lists MotorCity Casino in Detroit as having a single $1-$2 no-limit hold’em game running, but all Detroit casinos were closed and staff at the room have confirmed on social media that they forgot to turn off the app.

With live poker officially dead for the time being, U.S.-facing online poker rooms have thrived. While six states have legalized online poker, only four have launched markets. Of the regulated U.S. poker rooms, only, which is run by 888Poker, serves a shared player pool. They have jumped to 20th in terms of traffic worldwide.

In 2018, when the site merged its New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada player pools, the New Jersey platform was averaging less than 100 cash game players per day. The Nevada-Delaware pool was averaging less than that. That figure has more than tripled over the last week as there are nearly 500 players per day from the three states playing cash games on that skin.

Pennsylvania is the only state with regulated online poker, with PokerStars serving as the only operator in the Keystone State. Stars’ Pennsylvania-only software is ranked 16th in terms of traffic, with an average of 600 cash game players per day over the last seven days.

By using a sweepstakes model where players buy “sweeps coins” that can be redeemed for dollars, Global Poker has also seen a huge increase in traffic, but since it isn’t technically played for real money, the statistics aren’t accessible.

Global Poker’s major Sunday tournaments saw a large increase over the weekend, including 442 entries in the Sunday Scrimmage. A Nevada-based player won SC16,663, which is redeemable for $16,663.



11 months ago

There are convenience stores that have casinos? You buy a 12-pack of Natty Light, Slim Jims, and go play some $2 BJ, Woo Hoo!!!!