Online poker traffic climbed 2.4% in a broad increase last week. Among the top 10 sites and networks, advancers outnumbered decliners 9-1. There were no ranking changes among the top 10 as all sites held their spots. Overall, the market is down 9% from this time last year, despite the relaunch of Full Tilt Poker and the opening of the Spanish market.
Full Tilt Poker is seeing outsized gains from various promotions, primarily the bonus money offered by PokerStars for players who link their Stars and Tilt accounts. Full Tilt's traffic rose 12% from the previous week, which is no mean feat considering that Rush Week had already pushed up traffic by 14%. The site's Edge Up player points promotion is also in effect until the end of February, and Happy Hour Week is slated to start a week from now.
However, there are signs that Full Tilt's traffic may be starting to taper off. Weekend player counts were down 17% from the previous weekend. This may be due in part to the Sit & Go Madness promotion which ran over the weekend and likely drew some players away from the cash games.
Bitcoin poker site SealsWithClubs has enjoyed strong gains in recent months. The site, which features an unusually low rake of 2.5%, launched in August 2011 and is open to US players. When PokerScout started tracking their traffic in August 2012, player counts averaged around 10 with 30 players at peak times.
Those numbers have risen steadily over the past six months. In the last few days the average player count has broken above 50, with 100 or more peak players.
To date, known Bitcoin traffic constitutes less than 0.1% of the online poker market, and the number of Bitcoin poker rooms is small. Mobile poker site Switch Poker, which does not accept US players, offers a Bitcoin deposit option. At least one major US-facing poker site is also rumored to be developing a Bitcoin option. If SealsWithClubs traffic and Bitcoin acceptance in general continues to grow, we will likely see more poker sites following suit, especially gray market and black market sites with payment processing difficulties.
PartyPoker's World Domination promotion does not seem to be generating much player excitement. The promotion started at the beginning of the week, and player counts for the week were very nearly flat. After Full Tilt's recent run-up, Party would need to gain 26% to take over second place.
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