Statista, a leading online statistics portal, provided data about the number of online poker players playing for real money between 2006 – 2010. Despite a slight downturn in 2007, the trend over those five years was positive. The numbers tell the story of a meteoric boom in online poker growth. In 2006 the number of online poker players reached a high of 17.8 million, dropping to 15.2 million players by January 2007.
From then on, the numbers grew rapidly. For example, in spring of 2008 the number of online poker players rose to 20 million, jumping to 20.8 million in the spring of 2009, and rising further to 22.2 million online poker players by spring of 2010.
These figures, although a decade old, indicate the number of worldwide online poker players.
Equally important are statistics related to the frequency of online poker play. In 2019, Statista studies reflect that 48.9% of online poker players play poker with some degree of regularity. 8.9% of players play a few times a week, 5.6% of players play once a week, 5.4% of players play almost every day, and 3.9% of players play several times a day. This paints a picture of an active online poker community.
Just How Big Is Online Poker?
Poker has certainly come a long way over the years. What began as a high-stakes game – often of life and death – in saloons in the Wild West, has gradually become the card game of choice for millennials, and college-educated professionals. Poker’s appeal is its diversity; it’s available at poker rooms online and off-line, in multiple formats, and across game variants. It’s just as appealing to casual players as it is to high-stakes professionals.
If one poker variant fails to impress, there are scores of others available to players. These include Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, Caribbean Stud, Seven Card Stud, and the inevitable Texas Hold’em. That certainly doesn’t tell the whole story; there are Freerolls, Sit & Go’s, Multi-Table Tournaments, cash games, satellites, bounty tournaments, fixed limit, pot limit, and no limit games to play. The introduction of new poker games such as SNAP and BLAST have only widened the net amount among an eager and active player base.
Perhaps the greatest catalyst to the online poker boom came from an unlikely source – Chris Moneymaker back in 2003. This now-legendary poker ace had humble beginnings in the online poker world. He won a seat to the WSOP Main Event and ended up winning it. This Tennessee-based accountant showed the world the immense potential of online poker play. Such was the outsized impact of Moneymaker’s performance, that online player numbers exploded out of control.
Poker greenhorns and professionals across the board began signing up at online poker rooms in their droves. Virtual unknowns became overnight sensations, and many poker prodigies quickly took to the global stage. The likes of Peter Eastgate, Greg Raymer, and Joe Cada are but a few of the legendary stars that now populate the poker scene. True to form, the World Series of Poker has been responsible for the meteoric rise to fame and fortune of this strategy-based card game.
All the big-name poker rooms have carved out a slice of the pie, with growing operations across an increasingly regulated landscape. Leading online poker room, 888poker is fully licensed and regulated by the Irish Revenue Commissioners, the Great Britain Gambling Commission, the NJDGE, and various licensing authorities across Europe and beyond. Players have wasted no time signing up with online poker rooms, hoping to become the next superstar – Poker Hall of Famer.
Billions of dollars have already been generated through the game of poker over the years, and we are only in the infancy stages of this game’s meteoric ascent. To be successful, online poker rooms need a steady supply of players – fish and sharks – to keep the pots full. Volume is the tincture that makes everything work. While the US market is in its early stages of growth, with several regulated jurisdictions including New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, there are many bills in various stages of legislation across large parts of the country. In the UK and Europe, highly developed gambling markets already exist and poker is booming.
How Does the Unprecedented Rise of Poker Affect Inexperienced Players?
The growth of online poker seems unstoppable. The industry continues to expand at an unprecedented rate, surpassing $1.5 billion in recent years. What makes poker particularly enticing to players is the fact that a skill-based element is at play. Unlike slot machine games, roulette, and baccarat, a player’s proficiency determines likely outcomes. People genuinely believe that if they use poker skill and strategy, read poker guides, and use poker odds calculators, they can make a difference to the outcomes of every game.
Besides, the poker pots up for grabs are simply too enticing to refuse. Caution is advised for greenhorns owing to the presence of highly experienced poker players and card sharks who are quick to spot fish in the sea. Experience is gained by moving up the proverbial ladder, from low stakes $0.01/$0.02 games up to the high-stakes of the professionals. Experts advise players to stick with what works – if you are a successful at low stakes player – keep at it and incrementally build a bankroll.
The Internet serves as the biggest platform for the game. Legal-age players can access online poker games anywhere, and at any time. While everything began in 2003, it didn’t end there. Online poker platforms suddenly started springing up all over the world, and players took to the game with abandon. Legislation-related issues certainly threw a proverbial wrench in the works, but ultimately this proved to be beneficial to the game by allowing poker operators to apply for licences to showcase their games and promotions to players.
In the US, several states now rank highly among the poker playing community. Given the facts and figures, the size of WSOP payouts, the popularity of the WPT, ANZPT, Aussie Millions, and other ranking poker tournaments, it’s not hard to understand why poker is so incredibly popular. The rapid growth of mobile gaming has cemented poker’s place as the fastest-growing real-money game.