PokerStars is once again the biggest online poker site in the world in terms of cash game traffic. After a month of being second to major rival GGPoker, PokerStars is now back to the top spot, based on latest figures from GameIntel.
On June 20, the global online poker market experienced a huge shakeup after long-time leader PokerStars slid to second place in cash game rankings for the first time in 15 years. The culprit was no other than GGPoker, a relatively new player in the industry which only started in 2016 as an Asia-facing site.
After enjoying a mini boom during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, online operators have seen traffic numbers continuously decline since the start of the year, with the lifting of restrictions and the reopening of the live poker scene.
PokerStars’s cash game numbers in particular dropped to just less than 5,000 in June of this year, compared to 8,400 concurrent players during the lockdown period in 2020. On June 20, PokerStars was officially taken over by GGPoker, which attracted a seven-day average of 5,000 cash game players, slightly above PokerStars’ 4,981.
PokerStars’ numbers dropped further in early July when its seven-day moving average for concurrent cash game seats dipped to just over 4,800, extending GGPoker’s lead.
The operator finally saw major progress in the last couple of weeks, and on July 21, it successfully reclaimed the top spot after recording 5,224 concurrent players, while major competitor GGPoker saw its numbers decline to 5,108.
Factors Contributing to PokerStars’ Recovery
Earlier this month, PokerStars announced a new rewards program for its players, offering an increased cashback of up to 65%. The new scheme is part of ongoing efforts by the PokerStars’ current owners, Flutter Entertainment, to improve the site’s customer generosity.
PokerStars’ original Supernova Elite loyalty program, a volume-based scheme which offered the most lucrative rewards for players, was terminated when the site was acquired by Amaya. Up to this day, PokerStars’ rewards are capped at 30%.
The new scheme, which is currently being trialed, will see players receiving up to 65% cashback. The system has also been made more transparent and fairer for players regardless of their profile. The interest and momentum surrounding this new program could have driven more players to the site, as reflected in its latest cash game figures.
PokerStars randomly selected 20% of its global customer base to participate in the trial which will conclude on September 30. The outcome of the trial will be based on feedback from the participating players. If the results are positive, the new system will be rolled out across PokerStars’ global markets.
Meanwhile, GGPoker’s drop in cash game traffic may be partly due to new changes that the operator has implemented for its German players.
Germany’s controversial rollover tax has been in effect since July 1, prompting online operators to reduce their services in the country, among them is GGPoker. Online poker sites have reacted to the new 5.3% levy in different ways.
GGPoker no longer offers high stakes game to German customers, and the operator has also decided to shift the tax burden on winning players. GGPoker’s move to collect the 5.3% tax in the cash-out stage rather than the buy-in significantly differs from the measures implemented by other sites like PokerStars, partypoker, and 888poker.
GGPoker said the approach is meant to keep the overall offer sustainable for its German customer base. The measure took effect on July 14, and after that, the operator saw its cash game figures decline.
Race for Dominance Intensifies
We need to wait and see whether GGPoker will be able to dethrone PokerStars once again, but one thing’s for sure – both sites will continue to ramp up its efforts by launching new promotions, putting up massive online tournaments, adding new game offerings, and improving their online poker services in general in a bid to take control of the bigger portion of the global online poker market.

TightPoker Staff

TightPoker Staff

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