February Was Not Kind to Online Poker
You would think that the online poker industry would do well during winter months, but in the case of February 2015, you would be wrong. According to PokerScout.com, February was just awful. The final week of the month saw internet poker cash game traffic dip 2 percent, the third consecutive week that traffic has fallen. In PokerScout’s top ten rankings, just three networks or rooms were fortunate enough to see a rise in traffic last week.
In the shocker of all shockers, PokerStars is the largest online poker room in the world (the first part of this sentence was sarcasm) with 19,000 cash game players on average during the last seven days. And while that is still leaps and bounds and bounds and leaps ahead of 888poker, which has 2,500 cash game players, it is still well below the 20,000 to 22,000 cash game player mark PokerStars was at not long ago. The iPoker Network is in the third spot with 2,000 cash game players, while Bodog has moved up to fourth with a seven day average of 1,900 cash game players. Rounding out the top ten are PokerStars.it (1,800 cash game players), Full Tilt Poker (1,600), partypoker (1,500), Winamax.fr (1,250), PokerStars.es (1,050), and PokerStars.fr (950). That is a lot of PokerStars.
As of last Friday, when PokerScout published its Weekly Online Poker Traffic Update, Georgian online poker room Adjarabet had moved up to ninth, but it is now in eleventh place with just 700 cash game players. It had made a brief jump, according to PokerScout, because it had made a temporary adjustment to its Magic Hands promotion. The promotion began in late November and was similar to PokerStars’ popular milestone promotions. During the Magic Hand promotion, Adjarabet promised to pay out cash money to players involved in every 5,000 hand until a total of 1 million GEL (about USD $469,000 at today’s exchange rate, USD $535,000 when it started) had been awarded. The promotion was expected to last two months, but more than three months later, the million GEL still hadn’t been distributed.
This posed a problem for Adjarabet, which was to close its existing, useless Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) poker room and migrate its active, stand-alone room over to MPN. It did not want to have the promotion still going on during the migration in case something went haywire. To remedy this, Adjarabet sped up the remainder of the promotion, marking every 1,000th hand a Magic Hand instead of every 5,000th hand. As a result, players flocked to Adjarabet in hopes of hitting one of the big hands, increasing the site’s cash game traffic by 26 percent.
The Magic Hands promotion has finally ended, hence the drop in traffic. The migration of Adjarabet’s tables over to MPN also went smoothly.
Adjarabet has come out of nowhere in the last year or so to climb to the top ten (or thereabouts) of PokerScout’s rankings thanks to promotions like Magic Hand that appeal to all players. Poker room promotions often work out best for those who play at the highest stakes or provide the heaviest action, but Adjarabet has designed their promos to make rewards relatively easy to earn for everybody. They are not typically too lucrative (nor should they be if they are not difficult to earn), but they encourage players to login every day and play a reasonable number of hands. Certainly, those who play more frequently have a better chance to earn greater rewards, but the promotions are balanced well enough to keep everyone content.
Right now, there is not much going on at Adjarabet that would attract cash game players, which would explain the decline in traffic. The only cash game promo in effect right now is called Cash Game Bonus and simply awards 10 GEL (USD $4.69) per day for playing at least one raked hand, up to ten days total. The promotion began February 25th and ends February 8th. While it is nice to get free money just for playing a hand of poker, the Cash Game Bonus is not something that will keep players logged in.
Instead of attractive cash game promos, Adjarabet has been trying to appeal to tournament players during the past week. Starting February 25th and ending March 6th, the poker site has been doubling the prize pools of all tournaments with guarantees. It is also hosting one freeroll each day during that same period with increasing prize pools. Tomorrow, the prize pool for the freeroll will be 40,000 GEL (USD $18,756) and on its final day, it will be 50,000 GEL (USD $23,445).