The race is on to decide who’s the third largest poker room (or network) on the internet.
Almost five months ago, PartyPoker overtook the iPoker Network for the number three spot in online poker traffic monitoring site PokerScout.com’s cash game traffic rankings. PartyPoker’s player based took a huge hit when it pulled out of the United States market after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006 and had slowly worked its way back up the charts. iPoker left the U.S. as well, but did a better job than PartyPoker in building up its European customer base, allowing it to ascend to the third spot and hold it for quite some time. PokerScout.com published its weekly traffic report this past Sunday, reporting that iPoker had finally regained third place.
As of Thursday night, however, PartyPoker was back in third position, behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Party’s hold on third is tenuous to say the least. As this is being written, PartyPoker’s seven-day average cash game traffic is 4,350 players, just the equivalent of a few full-ring tables better than iPoker’s 4,300 players. The 24-hour peak numbers favor iPoker slightly, 7,880 players to PartyPoker’s 7,606.
Barring a major seismic shift in the online poker industry, neither PartyPoker nor iPoker will be advancing past the third spot any time soon. PokerStars, the largest poker room on the internet, has a seven-day average cash game traffic figure that is almost seven times greater than either of the two: 29,400. With 14,600 cash game players on average, second place Full Tilt Poker is more than three times the size of either PartyPoker or iPoker. Combined, PokerStars and Full Tilt have a hold of over 60 percent of the market.
PokerScout.com also reports that for the first time in a year, PokerStars is growing at a higher annual rate than Full Tilt. September 2009 saw Full Tilt’s peak, from which its cash game traffic has fallen 15 percent. In the same period, however, PokerStars has gained 15 percent. Year-over-year, PokerStars has grown 27 percent on the cash game side of things, while Full Tilt has grown 25 percent.
The biggest gainer from the same time one year ago is no surprise: the Merge Gaming Network. In April, Merge was the beneficiary of the migration of Sportsbook.com and PlayersOnly.com from the Cake Poker Network, and as such has seen its cash game traffic triple since then. Year-over-year, Merge is up 88 percent. Last week, the period which PokerScout.com’s latest report covers, Merge gained another 3 percent. The network is now in 16th place, just 10 players behind Bodog.
Because of the loss of those former member sites, Cake Poker has seen its numbers dwindle. Once a mainstay in the lower half of the top ten, the Cake Poker Network is now sitting 11th place, with just 1,220 cash game players on average over the last seven days. Year-over-year, Cake is down 24 percent. The iPoker Network is the biggest annual loser, though, with a 30 percent from last year.
Overall online poker cash game traffic dipped 1.5 percent last week, with every one of the top ten sites losing players. That is not entirely unexpected, though, as people tend to spend less time indoors at their computers as the weather gets warmer. The 1.5 percent drop does not necessarily reflect an actual loss of customers, but rather simply fewer players logging on for the week.
Since the same time last year, PokerScout.com says that online poker traffic has grown at a 12 percent annual rate.

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