The most noticeable phenomenon in the digital casino world has been internet poker’s comeback over the past year. The timing of the resurgence points to COVID-19 as the primary cause. But several factors in this boom may play into the evolution of online gambling in the future.
- Online poker sites report record revenue
- Lockdowns mean upturn at internet tables
- Newcomers buy-in and pros love it
Online Poker at All-Time High
The recent surge is the second time real money online poker – specifically Texas Hold’em – has experienced a significant rise in popularity.
Gamblers Go Digital
The first boost arrived about 20 years ago when the World Series of Poker (WSOP) took to the TV airwaves and showed how average everyday people could make millions playing in tournaments.
Suddenly everyone wanted a seat at the table, even if the table was on a computer or smartphone screen. Internet poker rakes went from millions to billions in just a few years.
The online game took a downturn with laws, cheating scandals, and some popular sites’ forced closings. Though the remaining gambling websites upped their game, the popularity and revenue leveled off for another decade.
The Pandemic’s Effect
This latest surge is entirely different. As early as March of 2020, when the pandemic’s first lockdowns took hold, online poker rooms began noticing an uptick in player numbers.
PokerStars’ owner reported a 27% increase in first-quarter revenues. By July, other sites were seeing as much as a 300% increase in revenue.
The trend has continued with the halt in operations of land-based casinos, disruption of sports events, and the resulting change in gamblers’ habits.
Why Is US Online Poker Growing?
The climbing numbers of internet poker players appear to be the result of the pandemic. Here are the main factors:
COVID-19With the pandemic’s onset and the resulting lockdowns, people began staying at home more. Looking for recreation, they turned to real money online casinos and their poker tables.
Return of ProfessionalsThe professionals who once took their cash to brick-and-mortar casinos to make money began making their deposits online and playing the high-limit games. With more new players on the scene, pros see a chance to pick up pots at the newbies’ expense.
Sports DisruptionWhen sports events were canceled and postponed, bettors at sportsbooks with online casinos took their money to the poker rooms.
As the seasons have continued, the unknowns about rosters have confounded handicappers and caused sports wagerers to shy away. Internet casinos and poker rooms have thrived as an option.
Where Can You Play Online Poker?
Here are three sites we have found to be the best destinations for online gamblers:
BetOnline has a poker room that ranks among the top three with US players and is one of the most reputable full-service betting sites. It features Omaha, Omaha hi-lo, and Seven-Card Stud tables as well as Texas Hold’em.
You can find both no-limit and pot-limit games and tournaments, including freerolls. It also has the edge of easy deposits, relatively easy bonus requirements, and notably fast payouts.
Bovada is a top-rated poker room for US players. The site’s games include Texas Holdem, Omaha, Omaha hi-lo, Seven-Card Stud, and Seven-Card Stud hi-lo.
Gamblers can stay busy with lots of fast-moving tournaments and a feature that allows a player to play up to 15 tables at a time.
Poker rooms are plentiful at Sportsbetting.ag. Their platform has a complete online casino for single-player games plus, members can join cash tables and numerous tournaments.
The site offers Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and 7-Card Stud with table limits for everyone. You can win even more on leaderboard challenges or guaranteed prize pool events.
The Future of Online Poker in the US
As the pandemic winds down, people will be getting out again, sports bettors will revert their attention to games, and pros will be heading back to land-based casinos. Most experts believe that digital poker will experience another swoon.
But the internet game has more going for it than it did ten years ago. State laws have allowed more US-based online gambling sites, and even more, are on the horizon. Plus, the recent surge has brought along a whole new generation of players.
Poker has always been a popular game, and it is certainly not going anywhere soon. But the easing of the pandemic should bring a dip in numbers at online tables.