Weekly Poker Update: August 31, 2020

August 31, 2020 Text on a Black Poker Chip With a Money Background

We’ve been hearing a lot in recent weeks about a boom in online poker activity that has taken place in conjunction with people being unable to play in live events. But as it turns out, it looks like it might also be the lack of other viable gambling options that have pushed some people towards either trying online poker for the first time or getting back into it after some time away.

The financial reports from Flutter Entertainment pretty much make that case. For those who are unaware, Flutter is a major conglomerate in the gambling world. Under its umbrella, you can find star players in the industry such as Betfair, FanDuel, and TVG Network.

PokerStars is also one of Flutter’s major offshoots. And in a recent financial report, the company mentioned a stunning 70% increase in customers playing at the site. That helped to drive a 22% hike in online gambling business for the second quarter of 2020, compared to the same time a year ago.

PokerStars Online Poker Table

Apparently, the major raise came from small-time players. This flies in the face of the theory that online poker is only the realm of card sharks. It should also reassure casual players who might be wary of getting involved.

Flutter officials also noted that they were aggressive in trying to keep people from overextending themselves. Sizable deposits were often met with interventions. This shows that not all online poker players are doing so responsibly.

Online Poker’s Success in the Face of Adversity

The financial reports are an indication that online poker seems to be immune to any kinds of societal or economic forces that might be hurting other industries. If anything, it seems to thrive in tougher times. And the boost can certainly be attributed to gamblers looking for some sort of action while sports were on a hiatus.

It will be interesting to see what the industry looks like when businesses return to normal or all kinds are able to operate as they used to do. Will people rush back to the poker rooms immediately, or will they be wary of dealing with other unknown issues that come with being in large crowds?

There is also the possibility that real money online poker will prove so convenient and easy for them that it stays on a roll. After all, there is an entire generation that is very used to conducting all kinds of business and pleasure in the online sphere. For them, playing poker virtually likely doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch at all.

Maybe there will be carryover as well, with people who learned the game online in this recent period going on to become players in live events once they can take part in that. Whatever the outcome, Flutter’s report seems to indicate the next boom in poker could be right around the corner, with online games driving the bus.

Big Money Up for Grabs in WSOP Online Main Event

For the past month or so, we’ve been talking about the ups and downs of the World Series of Poker Online. There certainly have been some technical issues, complaints, and a general sense that, if the event were to take place again, certain things could be done much better.

But even the staunchest of cynics would have to agree that the response to the event has exceeded expectations. Just about every event has featured an impressive number of entrants. And the vast majority of those events went off without a hitch and shone the spotlight on some very exciting play.

We are in the home stretch of the overall event now, but there is still one big prize to be claimed—the World Series of Poker Online Main Event. And as it turns out, that prize is going to be bigger than anyone hoped. Thanks to a late surge of entrants buying in at the $5,000 level, the prize pool shot over the initial advertised amount of $25 million to over $27.5 million.

WSOP.com Hotel Lobby Display

The winner of that prize money remains to be seen. The first flights began this past weekend and action will go on all week long. It will take some time to whittle it down from the nearly 6,000 people who entered the Main Event.

The final table is scheduled for September 6th, which means that by this time next week, we should have a Main Event champion. That individual will walk away with over $3.9 million, along with the prestige of being the Main Event winner.

That prestige part is an important concept because, let’s face it, at the beginning of the World Series of Poker Online, it was a toss-up as to whether any of it would even work. Something on this scale in the online poker world had never really been attempted. Just the fact that it is going to make it to the finish line is a triumph in itself.

In addition, the bracelet events were graced time and again by some of the biggest stars of the sport, which saturated the whole event with the kind of legitimacy it needed.

The initial fear was that the online atmosphere would be unattended and underwhelming, and now it’s impossible to argue that it was either of those things.

Yes, there was controversy along the way. But the folks at WSOP.com and GGPoker seemed to have come out of this, if not unscathed, then at least still standing. There will be lessons they learned that they can take forward if they do it all again.

This brings us to a great question. Will there be a need for another online World Series of Poker in the future? Should it still exist, and can it be as profitable, if the live version of the World Series of Poker comes back strong?

These are fascinating questions but, for right now, you can leave them for another day. In the meantime, good luck to all the participants in the Main Event. Let’s hope that the tournament produces a worthy champion when all is said and done.