Online poker 2019 review: overall results
We are just a few days away from 2020, and it's time to summarize the 2019 results of the online poker industry. Although online poker is still considered in critical condition, many events occurred this year, and several trends were defined that led us to think that poker is well-alive around the world.
Online poker rooms in 2019
Throughout its entire history, the online poker industry has always developed following some fundamental principles:
- Improved games the overall player experience;
- Poker sites try to preserve the poker ecosystem by changing their terms and conditions, rewards programs, etc.
- Laws and regulations force poker rooms to leave some markets and offer their services in others.
In 2019 we could add the massive development of the real money poker apps market and record-breaking MTT events played on some sites.
If you visit our website regularly, you'll find that almost all our content is aimed at dissecting the above points and familiarizing players with the market dynamics. So, what events we highlight in 2019?
PokerStars: no regs welcome
In 2019 we were forced to stop our cooperation with PokerStars, which for many years has been the only existing poker room for many players. In short, we did not agree to change our policy regarding other poker rooms offered on our site to continue our partnership with PokerStars.
Of course, Stars remains as the largest online poker room in terms of traffic, and any development related to them was interesting to our readers and deeply impacts the overall gaming industry:
- The table cap for cash games was reduced to four;
- All automated seating scripts were prohibited;
- PokerStars launched its own Chinese poker app: Red Dragon Poker;
- All-in Cashout Insurance, a unique feature that was introduced a few months ago;
- Flutter Entertainment absorbed the PokerStars group;
- Anonymous tables and new spins were introduced;
- PokerStars accounts and Twitch accounts can now be linked;
- Less rake is better? PokerStars reduced rake in India;
- PokerStars announced (again) the death of rakeback.
Once upon a time, PokerStars was considered not only the largest online poker room but also the best one. Unfortunately, over time, it has increasingly become a site for recreative players with almost no interest for regular players, especially when considering promotions and new formats.
To help our grinders look for a new home, we made benchmarks of PokerStars with its main competitors for the three most important formats of the moment: 6-max, fast-fold poker, and Spin & Go.
GGPoker Network: 36% traffic growth in 2019
GGPoker Network consolidated its position as a market leader in 2019; in fact, Good Game was the only public and top network that was able to significantly increase its players' share and even beat the record set last year!
According to PokerScout, precisely one year ago, GGPoker Network boosted 1,100 connections on average, and now the number is 1,500, a growth of 36%!
Unlike PokerStars, GGPoker Network reached our headlines thanks to its promotions that guarantee more money every month (for January 2020, the network already announced promotions for over $700,000).
Only two news was similar to PokerStars and GG Poker Network:
- The introduction of a table cap of four, which was quickly canceled due to technical problems during its implementation;
- Launch of Short Deck Hold'em, although GG made it more authentic in Asian roots — the tables are played in Yuan, and a button-ante is used. In addition to that, a monthly promotion benefits 6+ Hold'em players.
We also covered some unique events related to the Good Game Poker Network in 2019:
- PokerOK rebranded to GGPokerOK and more recently changed its relationship with players and affiliates;
- GGPoker signed up Daniel Negreanu as a brand ambassador;
- Fast-fold poker was introduced as Rush & Cash;
- The Good Game Series 3 guaranteed more than $50M;
- Jean-Christophe Antoine, Head of GGPoker Network, shared with us his vision of online poker future;
- A public roadmap was presented to share the network plans with all parts involved.
And in preparation for the incursion into new markets (most likely France and Spain), GGPoker Network left 13 countries in November 2019.
partypoker: the year of Rob Yong
In 2019 Rob Yong became the public face of partypoker. The British businessman owner of Dusk Till Dawn Casino was appointed as partypoker partner, and he made public a roadmap with partypoker plans to improve the players' experience.
Changing the format of hand histories and banning HUDs and support software can be considered as the main event that occurred at partypoker in 2019. On June 17th the new era started and in the first month the traffic drop almost 10%, but in the following months, it recovered slightly.
In November, Yong himself confirmed that hand histories would be available for download and even contacted software developers to release updates and make compatible tracking software to perform after-session reviews.
In our blog, partypoker was highly commented due to different news:
- A new Team Online with popular Twitch streamers and players was created in February.
- The fight against bots started in April, and since then many reports have been shared informing about blocked accounts and seized money;
- Overlays were frequent at tournament series like KO Series;
- New promotions like $500k SPINS;
- A new edition of MILLIONS Online was played with amazing results;
- partypoker is preparing a brand new mobile client.
For 2020 we can expect many changes with the migration of two iPoker skins to the partypoker network: Coral and Ladbrokes.
Winning Poker Network: Americans first choice
We recently shared a complete overview of the Winning Poker Network development in 2019, so we invite you to read our article.
In short, WPN smashed records with massive tournaments, and as Phil Nagy told us, poker is only good when it's big, and surely, Winning is preparing for a #good4poker 2020.
iPoker Network: struggling to survive
The fate of iPoker in 2020 is deeply linked with the MPN closure. We invite you to read our detailed analysis in this article.
In terms of traffic, in 2019, iPoker lost almost 8% of players.
Real money poker applications: a brave new world
Out of the sight of PokerScout, the poker app industry developed highly in 2019 (we will talk about the Chinese market later). Regarding real money poker apps, we highlight:
- Two new poker applications were launched: Upoker and PokerBros;
- We expanded and kept updated our club list at PPPoker;
- PPPoker has expanded worldwide, especially in restricted markets like the USA and Australia, and emerging countries like Brazil.
Right now, we offer access to almost 40 clubs in three poker apps. At the end of 2019, the traffic in these applications is as follows:
Chinese poker rooms: risk for a noble cause
In 2019 we witnessed the rise and fall of PokerMaster, the undisputable leader, after the Chinese authorities closed about 300 bank accounts linked to club owners; this created a hostile environment that led to PokerKing Asia to expulse overseas players and Red Dragon Poker to close for a while, although the last one re-opened a few months ago.
But, China is still a profitable market with incredibly soft games, and new sites like PokerTime were introduced into the market.
Of course, even in an article as extensive as this one, we have not been able to cover all relevant topics related to online poker in 2019. Still, it gives a general idea of the state of the industry and what we can expect in 2020. Our blog will cover all the relevant news as usual!
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This is a major victory for online poker in America....