If you haven’t noticed, Pokerstars is consistently seeing over 200,000 simultaneous players. It seems like it was just a few months ago when they were the first to clear the 100,000 mark. As of a couple days ago they announced a new bonus for up to $600, after years of only offering a measly $50 bucks!
My god, are these people trying to be the ONLY online poker room? How long (maybe I should say ‘how quick’) until we see 300,000 simultaneous players? I read somewhere recently that they already acount for 1/2 of all the online poker traffic there is. If thats the case, online poker is going to need to see some more growth before every single player already has an account here.
What does it mean for poker when one room has so much of the traffic? On one hand it seems that the other rooms would decide to step up their own programs or face an inevitable death. The problem with that is that most rooms cannot afford to step up the program much more than they already are. With deposit and withdrawal fees that the poker rooms have to pay, on top of the fact that most online players play micro-stakes which require tens of thousands of hands played before the room makes any money, it’s tough to cough up more dough. What happens if smaller rooms cannot compete and cannot keep players? They go away of course, giving yet more power to the bigger rooms. This is bad for poker.
As players, we need lots of rooms to compete against each other. This is what drives the best deals and promotions. The fewer the rooms, the less competition. The less competition, the weaker the promotions.
The recent UB/AP merge was smart consolidation for the two sites, but who wants to play at those rooms anymore (for reasons that have been discussed plenty to leave them alone atm)? Party, Titan, Pacific, and many other rooms don’t allow US players anymore, which obviously doesn’t help.
So what happens next? If Pokerstars continues to take market share, and FT is the only real competition putting up a fight…the future for those of us who like great promotions is looking bleak. This is yet another reason we need regulation, to bring back the publicly traded rooms and generate some new, legitimate competition.
The Pokerstars deposit bonus is great for players who don’t already have an account there (which is like 3 guys I think). For the rest of us that already have Pokerstars accounts though, this isn’t necessarily a good thing for the long run.