Poker has been a game that people love to play ever since the days of the Old West. Alongside drinking whisky, poker is surely the only popular pastime from that era that has survived into the modern day.
That is because it is a classic game. Poker lets people test out their strategic skill and engage in psychological combat with their opponents – not to mention that it also gives them a chance to win money.
The continued enthusiasm for poker is part of a wider love for gaming at casinos of course and that brings us to another point. Like casino in general, it is the online version of poker that is enjoying the biggest market growth in 2023.
Online Poker Growth
Lest anyone be in any doubt that this is a growth industry, take a look at these figures: during the past couple of years, the number of people who are playing poker online has risen by close to 43%. Furthermore, there has also been substantial market growth in terms of attracting new players to the game.
Players opting to set up a new account with an operator like 888poker rose by an astonishing 255% in the same period. That is a remarkable story of success by any measure, so what is behind it?
Key Factors in the Rise of Online Poker
As is usually the case, it is a number of different factors coming together that have produced this rapid rise, rather than one single cause. These are some of the main ones.
Greater tech accessibility
Chartattack indicates portable technological home gadgets, from laptops to smartphones and tablets, have never been more affordable and accessible to the general public as they are now.
At the dawn of the digital era, it was seen as a luxury to afford such devices, largely due to many key brands had only just begun to work on developing their product portfolios.
Pioneers such as Steve Jobs and the famous keynote speeches he hosted helped give audiences a creative insight into how a mobile phone had more than one core function besides communication and it was a blueprint that many competitors in the markets have followed ever since.
Almost everyone owns at least one of these common phone or laptop devices and is able to connect to the internet at ease and that is pretty much all that is required to start playing online poker.
This accessibility is a big factor in the rise of online gaming in general, with poker just one of several beneficiaries of it.
Innovative new technologies
Just as the tech has become more widely available to all, so it has also gotten better and better. Online poker sites now offer high-end graphics that make people feel like they are entering a cool casino in the real world.
Live video streaming tech means that players at these sites can also now play live against real-life opponents and participate in poker tournaments from the comfort of home. Now poker sites are looking into virtual reality games that fuse poker with immersive imaginary worlds.
These advances in technology have made playing poker online a smoother and more enjoyable activity than it used to be.
Attracting new demographics
It would be fair to say that poker has traditionally been viewed as a man’s game. After all, even in that Old West, saloon girls did not tend to take part in the poker games.
That has started to change in recent years though. High profile women players have emerged, like the very successful pro Daiva Byrne, and that has had knock-on effects.
The main one is encouraging more women to sign up to poker sites and play with the aim of being like her. A significant portion of the new players who signed up in the past couple of years will have been female, breaking the stereotype that the market had always been dominated by one specific gender.
Online poker being opened up to different demographics is fuelling its rapid expansion.
Casinos in the real world often set minimum stakes that are fairly high that players must be able to put down before they can join a poker game. That helped to put off a lot of people who might have been interested in playing, but did not want to risk a lot of money right away.
By contrast, people signing up for an online poker game are free to bet as much or as little as they want. That has helped it attract players who would avoid poker in land-based casinos.
Mobile poker apps
Online gambling is popular generally because it is a lot easier and more convenient than visiting a casino or betting shop in the real world. Goodhousekeeping suggests the arrival of online mobile apps for playing poker on has taken that one step further though, letting people play from anywhere at any time.
It has also let poker tap into general consumer trends towards mobile-friendly leisure activities, people can now communicate socially as well as explore other options within apps that offer more tailored orientated experiences for potential consumers.
The Future of Online Poker
The current situation within the online poker sector is clearly very rosy, but what does the future hold? There are already predictions that the current growth will continue for at least the next three years and there are firm reasons for that.
The online poker sector is embracing cutting edge technology like the VR mentioned earlier. This has the potential to take the feeling of being at a real-life poker table to another level altogether, essentially fully replicating it without the player needing to leave the house.
Games that feature live dealers are part of many online poker sites now, but trends suggest that they will attract more people to the sites in the future as well.
The rise of online poker is due to a confluence of technology according to Exchangewire, changing consumer interests and the quality and affordability of the sites themselves. This growth is likely to continue.