Two weeks ago, online poker cash game traffic monitoring site PokerScout.com noted in its weekly traffic report that the iPoker network had passed Party Poker to become the third largest poker network on the internet. Party Poker had previously taken over the third spot from iPoker about five months prior. This week, Party Poker is back in third, making iPoker’s stay in that position a short one.
It is not like Party Poker is running away with anything, though. As of the morning of June 3, 2010, Party Poker’s seven day average cash game traffic is 4,100 players a mere 50 players more that iPoker. iPoker’s 24-hour peak is greater, however, 7,535 to 7,093. Keep in mind, though, that these numbers do not necessarily indicate which poker room or network has more customers overall. PokerScout.com counts the number of occupied seats at the virtual tables, meaning that a single customer who is playing at four tables counts as four players. And remember, this is just cash game traffic. Tournament figures could be much different.
It appears that both Party Poker and iPoker won’t be finding themselves ranked anywhere except number three or four anytime soon. They are light years behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the number one and two online poker rooms on PokerScout’s list. With a seven day average of 14,400 cash game players, Full Tilt is three and a half times larger than either Party Poker or iPoker, but even that pales in comparison to PokerStars, which has 29,000 cash game players on average. Below Party Poker and iPoker sits the Ongame network with 2,450 cash game players, so it will take a significant move by somebody for either Party Poker or iPoker to fall to fifth.
After Ongame, there is a jumble of poker networks trying to climb over each other. The Cereus network, home to UB.com and Absolute Poker, has made it back to sixth position with a seven day average of 2,150 cash game players. It had fallen in the last few weeks as a result of the security flaw in its software, but the hole has apparently been plugged, so customers have come back. Just 100 players behind Cereus is the International Poker Network (IPN), and only 50 players behind IPN is Everest Poker. As an example of how tight the race between these networks is, when PokerScout’s weekly report was published on May 30th, IPN was ahead of both Cereus and Everest.
Continuing to disappoint is the Cake Poker network. Once making a run at the top five, the loss of several rooms to the Merge Poker network has hurt it, even as the network is getting ready to release new software. And it’s had a snowball effect: players see that traffic is down, so they go elsewhere looking for games, which damages traffic even more. Cake is now down to 12th place, with only 1,080 cash game customers.
For the week leading up to PokerScout’s report, online poker traffic fell 1.7 percent. The annual rate of growth for the industry is now just 9 percent. This may seem pretty solid, considering the state of the worldwide economy, but it is a far cry from what it has been in the past.
Year over year, the Merge network is still the biggest gainer because of the migration of several rooms from the Cake Poker network, having almost doubled since the same time last year. Betfair is up 24 percent and in a case of the rich getting richer, PokerStars is up 21 percent and Full Tilt has grown 18 percent. Perhaps surprisingly, Cake is not the biggest loser year over year. That dubious honor belongs to the iPoker network, which has shrunk 31 percent. Cake is second, though, having lost 26 percent of its cash game traffic. Pacific Poker, once an industry leader and now basically an afterthought, is down 11 percent.

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