Online poker traffic rose 1.5% last week as many sites got some relief from the summer slump. Among the top 10 sites and networks, advancers outnumbered decliners 6-4. Overall, the market is down 3% from this time last year.
Among the top 10, Full Tilt Poker moved back up into second place as iPoker Network slipped to third. 888poker edged ahead of PartyPoker to take fourth place. Bodog traded places with PokerStars.fr, with Bodog coming out on top in ninth place and PokerStars.fr falling to tenth.
Until recently, the top rivalry in the industry was PartyPoker versus iPoker Network. For years the two battled it out for third place behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
Now there is a new set of rivalries. The first is Full Tilt Poker vs. iPoker Network, seen in the graph below. This was not even a contest until the end of 2012, less than two months after Full Tilt Poker relaunched under PokerStars ownership. The relaunch went smoothly and traffic was quite high at first, but it soon became clear that the liquidity level could not be sustained. Full Tilt traffic started to plunge and the second place ranking was up for grabs.
In late June, iPoker briefly captured second place for the third time since the relaunch. Full Tilt immediately battled back into second with a repeat of its Rush Week promotion. Rush Week ended Sunday, which means the two will now lock horns again in the battle for dominance.
The second rivalry is PartyPoker versus 888poker in the battle for fourth place (see graph below). This contest also pits a solid performer against a declining foe. 888 has picked up a small amount of traffic in the last two years, while Party has lost a large amount of liquidity.
888 managed to take the lead on Friday. Since we started tracking the market in 2006, this is the first time that 888 has pulled ahead of PartyPoker, and also the first time PartyPoker has been ranked as low as fifth place.
Revolution Gaming has reportedly abandoned its "Fair Play Technology," a hard-line system of player segregation by skill level. There still seems to be some form of segregation in effect, but it may only be some standard operator ring-fencing rather than skill level segregation.
Players are apparently not impressed with the change. They are certainly not returning to the network as quickly as they left. Traffic actually declined 1% for the week. The network has lost 45% of its traffic in less than four months.
The Season Turns
Today marks online poker's summer solstice. Typically traffic declines steeply in June as the summer travel season starts. Player counts then bottom out around July 1 and rise by small increments until September, when the much busier fall season begins.
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