Full Tilt Poker lost its title as the second largest online poker room yesterday. They had held this title virtually every day since their November 6, 2012 relaunch, only losing it for a few days to the Party Poker Network after the bwin player pool merger. Full Tilt Poker dropped from number two to number four. Both Party Poker and iPoker surpassed them.
According to Pokerscout.com, a poker information website that counts online poker cash game traffic, Party Poker had been peaking 500-1000 players higher each day than Full Tilt in the weeks before this move. iPoker peaked above Full Tilt as well, though on a smaller scale. Pokerscout ranks online poker rooms on their average player count, not on peak traffic, so this kept Full Tilt at number two due to its consistent traffic patterns until this week.
Party Poker is the new number two online poker room. Their traffic peaks around 6,000 players each day. Their seven day average player count is 3,300.
iPoker is now the number three online poker room. Their traffic peaks at around 5,500 players each day. Their seven day average is 3,150.
Full Tilt Poker averaged over 8,000 players when it reopened in November. Its traffic peaked around 15,000 cash game players. Their traffic has slowly declined to peaks of about 5,000 players and averages about 3,100 players at any given time.
Reasons for the Traffic Changes
The Party Poker Network merged the traffic from their sister site bwin in December 2012. This caused an instant traffic spike of about 30%. The Party Poker Network peaked at 6,523 on the day of the merger and has seen traffic counts of over 7,000 on some days. The network appears to be doing a good job of retaining many of the players that migrated to the network after the merger.
The iPoker Network has seen several large new player pools join the network over the past several months. Late 2012 saw both Everest Poker and Coral Poker join the network. Betfair is now sending all new players to their iPoker2 platform. Existing players may still choose between the Ongame or iPoker2 networks until this summer when all Betfair players will be forced to move to iPoker. Ladbrokes announced last week that they will be moving to iPoker as well. This should cause a large bump in traffic for the network.
Full Tilt Poker is in a tough position when it comes to retaining traffic. Many players flocked there because they had balances locked up at the room or wanted to take advantage of the relaunch promotions such as deposit bonuses and freerolls. As these promotions ended, so did player’s enthusiasm for Full Tilt. Players are able to transfer money between Full Tilt and PokerStars. This gives players little reason to play on Full Tilt as PokerStars has nearly 800% more cash game traffic and much larger tournament pools.
Full Tilt Poker also abandoned their affiliate program when they reopened. Not only did they choose not to reopen with an affiliate program, it was also decided that affiliates would not be paid for their past efforts. This has hurt the company’s relationship with poker website owners and has greatly diminished the brand’s exposure in the online poker world. This could cause additional issues should Full Tilt Poker decide to reopen an affiliate program in the future as its traffic continues to decline.
This has been a long time coming. I made a prediction back in October 2012 that Full Tilt Poker would not retain the number two spot, though this has taken longer than I thought. I also have a wager with another online poker industry member that Full Tilt would not be number two on May 15, 2013. I also win should Full Tilt lose the spot for seven consecutive days before then. They did lose the number two spot for a few days in December, but were able to regain it.
I feel that the combination of player count losses and the addition of large iPoker skins will make it nearly impossible for Full Tilt Poker to regain the number two spot. Players will also continue to have more and more of a reason to simply play on PokerStars as the game selection on Full Tilt Poker continues to deteriorate.
PokerStars deserves a lot of credit for how they handled the Black Friday situation. The Full Tilt Poker bailout is another example of that. I would not be surprised to see the sale of the Full Tilt software at some point down the road to a US gaming company looking for clean software should some states create strict bad actor clauses. It is probably safe to assume that the software is considered clean since it was basically sold by the US Department of Justice, even if it was done through a shotgun wedding.
If Full Tilt Poker’s traffic, which is down about 65% since its peak, continues this slide then dropping the additional brand may become the decision that makes sense for the company that already owns the world’s largest online poker room.
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