TOP-10 poker events of 2021


In a few days, another year will be on the books, so, according to our tradition, we summarize its results for the poker industry in a unique article; of course, we will focus on the events that have affected online poker and the principal rooms.

  1. PokerStars vs GGNetwork: The battle of the year
  2. Rakeback returns to PokerStars
  3. Autumn WSOP in Las Vegas
  4. Closure of Full Tilt Poker and other rooms
  5. Restrictions to table selection
  6. iPoker — #2 network
  7. New partypoker tables
  8. Regulation in Germany and the Netherlands
  9. GGPoker legal path
  10. HU challenges

PokerStars vs GGNetwork: The battle of the year

PokerStars vs GGNetwork

The fact that sooner or later, PokerStars will not only lose its monopoly position in online poker but also the first position in the rankings has been said by many in recent years. It was only a matter of time.

On June 19, 2021, GGNetwork took the first position in the PokerScout ranking regarding the weekly average number of cash players.

And although PS was able to "tighten up" and overcome its competitor in cash traffic (right now with a 6.7% advantage), a deeper traffic analysis shows that PokerStars leadership is backed by low stakes (Hold'em and Omaha).

From $0.25/$0.50, and in most cases, the higher the stake, the more tables can be found in the GGPoker client. In 2022, the struggle between these two sites should only escalate.

Rakeback returns to PokerStars

PokerStars Rewards 2021 version

The main strategic decision of the room this year, which can also be called one of the most important in its 20-year history, was the radical change in Stars Rewards.

After a three-month test, from October 1, 2021, PokerStars launched a new version of the loyalty system with direct rakeback from 15% to 65%.

Chests and monthly quests survived, but all random has been removed from them. In fact, Stars players are guaranteed to receive 15%-35% return, and large percentages depend on which challenge "they are lucky" to catch.

Thanks to this novelty, the room recovered first place in the PokerScout rating by the end of the year. But next year, its team will definitely need to go for significant updates to consolidate this success.

Autumn WSOP in Las Vegas

WSOP returned to Las Vegas in 2021

The main live event of the year, which we could not get past, of course, was the return of the World Series of Poker after a 2-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.

From September 30 to November 23, 2021, the Rio Casino hosted the WSOP 2021 with 88 bracelet events. 

There were several exciting events to highlight:

  • The German player Koray Aldemir won the WSOP Main Event for $8,000,000
  • Phil Hellmuth won his 16th bracelet and reached seven finale tables, setting records for his career
  • For the first time, the WSOP was played in Las Vegas and globally online

Closure of Full Tilt Poker and other rooms

Full Tilt Poker shutdown in 2021

Unfortunately, the year was not without sad news. The most resonant of them, of course, was:

Full Tilt Poker (FTP) shut down on February 25, 2021.

Although, in fact, we can say that this "death" occurred in 2016 when Full Tilt switched to PokerStars software. Nevertheless, this winter marked its official closure.

Also, iPoker Network lost two skins this year:

  1. BestPoker stopped working on May 31 after Entain Holdings purchased due to Curacao's offshore license.
  2. Winner Poker has been closed since September 27 without explanation.

We will tell you below in this affected the development of the network.

Restrictions to table selection

Restrictions to table selection on WPN

This year several poker sites have taken steps to improve the poker ecology. Up to this point, the US-facing Winning Poker Network in all respects (software, bonuses, and rakeback) was almost the last stronghold of classic online poker among the leading networks.

From April 14, in PokerKing, Americas Cardroom, and Black Chip Poker, players cannot view the nicknames and stacks of opponents from the lobby and tables until the BB is placed.

This option was called "Player Protection," and the developers defended it as an anti-bumhunting feature.

Another smaller American network, Chico Poker, also restricted table selection in October 2021. Cash game tables are anonymized until the big blind is posted and scripts don't work.

Curiously, now in the TOP10, the only room that has not somehow limited table selection is 888Poker was has been promoting amateur-friendly ideas for over then years.

iPoker — #2 network

iPoker became TOP2 network

If last year we wrote that this network, thanks to the transition of rooms from the closed MPN and entry into the Swiss market, was able to reach 6th place in the world ranking, then in 2021, although iPoker Network lost two skins, it was still able to strengthen its position.

With 1,100 connections, it has surpassed all its old competitors and has become the second global network in cash traffic for Europeans.

Our recent monitoring of Hold'em and Omaha traffic on top sites confirmed this. The network also raised the bar after announcing the largest edition ever of iPoker Festival Winter, guaranteeing €2,500,000.

In terms of innovation, iPoker announced this year the development of a built-in HUD, which may lead to a ban of trackers after its launch in 2022.

New partypoker tables

New tables at partypoker

The outgoing year has been challenging for Rob Yong's room. After the cancellation of regular races, many grinders left it, and now the room has dropped to 10th place in terms of traffic. Neither the launch of Hot Tables cash drops nor x2 rakeback in fast-fold poker (Boosted Hours), which took place for almost four months, helped.

The main novelty from partypoker was a significant upgrade to the graphics and table interface, improving the visual component during the game.

The new sizes of tables, cards, and avatars were ambiguously met by regs, but in theory, they should have pleased amateurs. Although most of the players keep waiting for a new client, the development of which has already been officially announced more than once.

In 2022 partypoker will have to resolve the issue of leaving all unregulated markets, as stated by Entain Holding management, and the issue of adding cryptocurrencies to the cashier.

Regulation in Germany and the Netherlands

Unfortunately, when a player hears the word "regulation," he doesn't think of a safer environment to play in, but in restrictions and closure of rooms. This is precisely what happened in Germany and the Netherlands.

German players took the worst part, as the regulation is more astringent for this country: many sites left the market, and those who keep the doors open had to implement several restrictions to multitabling, monthly deposit limit, etc.

In the Netherlands, we expect GGNetwork and iPoker to be the first sites returning to the country, but Dutch players will have to wait at least for the first quarter of 2022.

GGPoker strengthened its legal position in 2021. Besides switching its license to a more trusted one from the Isle of Man, the network launched in closed markets like the Baltics, Poland, Belgium, etc.

They have also advanced in a possible incursion into the US with a license from Pennsylvania. Although it's only the first step of many, it clears the path to legally operate in one of the most profitable markets worldwide.

And speaking about world expansion, the network recruited one of the most beloved players in the global community, Jason Koon, to act as its global ambassador.

HU challenges

2021 was marked by several heads-up challenges that entertained the community for several months.

Daniel Negreanu was defeated by Doug Polk, in one of the most anticipated challenges in poker history and also lost to Phil Hellmuth in the PokerGO studios.

The Galfond Challenge left Phil still undefeated as he booked several victories, including the coach Chance Kornuth. Wiktor Malinowski, also known as Limitless, was very active but lost two challenges against Stefan11222 and Fedor Holz, although, in the last one, he was drunk.

Of course, the proposed selection of events is a purely subjective choice of the Worldpokerdeals editorial staff. Online poker is a large and fast-paced industry, impossible to cover in only one article. However, this also means that we will not be bored next year and there will be a lot of unexpected news ahead.

Happy New Year 2022!

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