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GGPoker is maintaining its lead as the world’s #1 poker site after once again edging out PokerStars in terms of global cash game traffic. The question is, will GGPoker be able to maintain its lead for the rest of 2021, or will PokerStars be able to recapture the number one spot yet again?
PokerStars dominated the global online poker market for more than a decade and, for years, its biggest rivals were 888poker and Partypoker. GGPoker first burst onto the scene in Asia in 2014 and, since then, has steadily made strategic moves that allowed it to overtake PokerStars in global cash-game traffic in 2021.
A closer look at the numbers
During the first week of September, GameIntel, an independent industry monitor, compiled data on a seven-day moving average of concurrent players at cash game tables at PokerStars and GGPoker, and found that PokerStars had just over 5,500 players while rival GGPoker had just over 5,600 players. The gap between the two is less than 2%, but when we look a little closer at the numbers, it looks like GGPoker is doing a lot better.
GGPoker started making news in the online poker world toward the end of 2019 when it signed Daniel Negreanu as its new ambassador after he parted ways with PokerStars. At the start of 2020, GGPoker was averaging around 1,500 concurrent players while PokerStars was the dominant site with more than 3x the cash game traffic.
With COVID-19 causing an uptick in online poker traffic, GGPoker made strategic moves in 2020 that resulted in its player traffic increasing to 5,000 concurrent players by the end of the year. One of those moves involved a deal with the World Series of Poker (WSOP) to host the inaugural 2020 WSOP Online series. As a result, GGPoker saw a significant increase in online poker traffic in 2020.
Not much difference between the two
PokerStars fought back and, in early 2021, registered a high of 8,600 users, but was unable to sustain this growth. While PokerStars soon saw its numbers drop, GGPoker maintained a steady average of around 5,550 users. As a result, GGPoker edged out PokerStars for the first time toward the end of June 2021, and held the lead in July. PokerStars went from 8,600 users at the start of 2021 to just 5,000 users in July.
PokerStars reclaimed the lead in August as they climbed back to 5,800 users, while GGPoker was down to 5,400 users. GGPoker has now bounced back and reclaimed the number one spot with 5,600 users, while PokerStars is down to 5,500 users.
In a statement, Paul Burke, Head of PR at GGPoker said “GGPoker is proud to offer the very best online poker experience, and our growth is a testament to the fact that we’ve designed our games and promotions with the player always at the forefront of our minds. GGPoker will continue to innovate into the future, hopefully leading to an even healthier online poker environment where all players can better find the games and experiences they’re looking for.”
Stars looking for a traffic spike
After dropping to 5,000 users in early July, PokerStars began testing a new rewards program in select markets. The response has been positive, with cash-game traffic increasing by 15% in the first week of September.
The rewards trial phase is set to finish at the end of September. PokerStars could then proceed with a global roll-out of the program designed to create a surge of cash game traffic. No matter which site is in the lead, however, the increased competition between the popular poker sites should result in plenty of cash-game action for players at all stakes.