WSOP.com and 888poker Combine Player Pools, Surge Ahead of Borgata Poker
Last week, WSOP.com and 888poker.com announced they would combine player pools starting this past weekend. The decision by Caesars Interactive to combine the player pools for WSOP.com and 888poker.com had an immediate impact on player signups and participation.
On the first weekend after the change, the Caesars websites received what has been described as a “massive” increase in traffic. The bump has pushed the online poker sites to #1 in the New Jersey market.
WSOP Poker Numbers
In terms of the cash game traffic, WSOP.com is now the largest poker sites in the state. WSOP unseated the Borgata Online Poker room. WSOP.com had its player traffic increase by nearly 50% over its previous weeks. The website now averages about 190 players at cash game tables at any given time.
Meanwhile, 888poker now receives about 170 players in its ring games at any given time. That represents a 75% increase over the previous week, so the move was a major success in week 1 of the experiment. Poker gamblers want to have options, including game selection, variations on a particlar game, and bet limits. To draw in a large crowd, websites need to offer the full range of games.
Those are averages over a 24-hour period. To get to the average, the peaks hours are combined with the low-volume hours. Thus, in peak hours, the Caesars Interactive poker sites host hundreds-upon-hundreds of poker players.
888Poker Software Design
The merging of player pools was made possible because both sites use the 888poker software. In online gambling, websites have the option of developing their own proprietary software or licensing such technology from a software developer. In the New Jersey online gambling industry, land-based casinos signed deals with major software design groups like 888poker, Ultimate Gaming, PartyPoker, and PokerStars.
Integration still is not complete. High stakes ring games and many tournaments are separate for the moment, but a greater level of integration is expected in the near-future. The two sites remain independant, for the time being.
Numbers May Not Be Accurate
PokerScout, which tracks the numbers for the New Jersey online gambling industry, gave a warning about the reliability of player numbers at present. A PokerScout release said that analysts should wait to see what the true numbers are, because their software might be tracking players inaccurately–counting low stakes players on both sites, and thus twice.
Whether the final numbers reach the levels that early indicators suggests, it is clear that the WSOP/888poker combination has more players than Borgata Poker. Better put, the Caesars sites have a more players at their cash games than their chief rival.
Beating Borgata Poker
Borgata Casino Online has been the leader in the industry over the first 14 months of play. After the November 2013 launch, Borgata had as much as 50% of the industry’s revenues. Throughout the spring and summer of 2014, the combined Caesars Interactive brands slowly crept up on Borgata, providing a strong #2 in the market. Borgata’s market share dipped to 40%, which remains impressive.
Why Numbers Matter in Online Poker
The size of a player pool might not seem that important to outsides, but in online poker, it is key. Poker is a player-versus-player game. To have a full competition, each table needs 9 real money players. Tables need to exist for a variety of games: No-Limit Texas Hold’em, Pot-Limit Texas Hold’Em, Omaha Holdem, Omaha Hi-Lo, Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low, Razz, and so on.
Also, each variant of the game needs to have tables for various bet limits, for low stakes, mid-stakes, and high stakes players. Players need the option of playing in cash games (“ring games”) or tournaments. Among the tournament options, players want to choose between full, multi-hour tournaments with large prize pools and shorter events called turbo events or “sit-‘n-go” events. Players might want the option of a rebuy or add-on rules, instead of the traditional freezeout tournament (with one stack of chips apiece).
In other words, the size of a poker playing community is a huge deal for online poker sites. The first weekend of the sharing arrangement between WSOP and 888Poker in New Jersey proved that reality. The decision by the Caesars Interactive websites to share players could be a game-changer, at least until PokerStars is licensed to operate in New Jersey–which is rumored to be happening in March 2015.
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