Since March 2020, online poker sites have reported an increase in player traffic, mainly due to the implementation of lockdowns all over the world. The global pandemic has forced the postponement and cancellation of major live tournaments across the globe, with land-based casinos also ordered to temporarily shut their doors.
With most people now staying indoors as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of COVID-19, the demand for home entertainment has gone up. For poker aficionados who want to continue the action and fun, there is nowhere else to go but online.
Live poker tournament organizers of huge events cancelled them due to the pandemic and are now teaming up with online poker sites to host their tournaments at the virtual felts. Examples for this was the recent partnership between Poker Central and partypoker (the latter hosting an online version of Poker Masters), the WPT Online Series also running on partypoker, and the World Series of Online Poker (WSOP) partnering with GGPoker for the first ever WSOP Super Circuit Online Series.
With millions in guarantees on offer across multiple tournaments, alongside exciting promos and bonuses, online poker has become so popular again that many are now comparing the industry’s current state to the Chris “Moneymaker Effect” in 2003.
The poker boom of the 2000s has been widely attributed to Chris Moneymaker’s massive victory in the 2003 WSOP Main Event. An accountant back then, Moneymaker outclassed Sam Farha to win the event for $2.5 million. He quickly went from being an unknown amateur player to an ultimate poker superstar.
The Tennessee native earned a seat to the Main Event after winning a satellite tournament on PokerStars, which cost him just $86, making him the first player to achieve such feat. His success story has inspired so many players and the years that followed saw an unprecedented rise in the number of players playing online. In fact, the biggest WSOP Main Event took place in 2006, where a huge portion of the field made their way into the tournament via online satellites.
Live Poker Will Recover Slowly
Today, we’re seeing a quite similar surge, and it appears like it will stay this way for an extended period. While some countries are now preparing to lift their lockdowns, restrictions will still remain, especially in terms of travel and holding huge gatherings.
This means we might have to wait a bit longer before the live poker scene gets back up and running, and even if live tournaments eventually resume, the hassle of spending more money in planning travels and booking accommodations to participate in a live event, especially with the coronavirus threat still not completely wiped out, will likely put off players.
Online poker will likely continue to enjoy high numbers, giving way for a potential second poker boom.