There are more than enough poker rooms, but not all of them have the potential to get really big
If you want to play online poker these days, you definitely have a very large selection of different providers. In this article we dedicate ourselves to some well-known providers or poker networks to analyze who has the best chances to grow and establish themselves at the top in the next few years.
We will take a closer look at the following providers/poker networks in this article: GGPoker, PartyPoker, iPoker and Unibet.
PartyPoker has a lot of potential as the oldest poker room in the world
Party poker is familiar to every poker player. Even if there were a few years when it didn’t look really good, the company has developed well and has been offering a very good product again for several years. The help of some very well-known poker players who know what it takes is definitely noticeable. The normal desktop software has been revised several times and a state-of-the-art mobile app has also been set up, which is very popular with the players. The software was a big problem and a big minus for years.
Much else has happened in the last few years. The rakeback program has been revised, which brings players up to 40% a week. For VIP players there is also the VIP Diamond and the Diamond Elite Status, which bring the player up to 65% rakeback. Since we’re talking about real rakeback, this is definitely the better deal out there right now. In addition, there are great extra promotions and rake races for all players every month.
The promotions and the website are super transparent and easy for players to understand what is very popular. Communication with the players is always super fair and, even if there are problems. There is a fantastic range of tournaments and actually everything a player could wish for.
When it comes to professional players, so hart partypoker is actually the perfect product, but the number of players has stagnated for almost 2 years and there is no real development. At the lower limits you can actually find tables running 24/7 and a good balance between casual and regular players. From the mid-stakes onwards, however, depending on the time of day, it slowly gets thin and you can clearly see that the pool of players is swiveling towards professional players who can be found at tables almost every day. Of course, this is not all about sharks and you can find casual gamers, but it could be better. That is of course the price that partypoker pays to offer a perfect product and rakeback program for very ambitious players.
But it’s not just because of that, it’s also due to various other things such as marketing and strategic direction. The cooperation with affiliates is okay, but here too there is a certain need for improvement, with which one could increase the number of players and keep them at the tables in the long term.
The expectations and goals are very high and despite the growth of CoralPoker and Ladbrokes, they have so far been anything but met. Together with Bwin, all 4 providers form the PartyGaming network and you should think so with 4 big names that should shoot up the number of players. The reality, however, is that you have a 7-day average of around 1,500 cash game players. That is slightly above the rest of the competition, but too little to play with the really big ones.
The potential is there, but we strongly doubt that much will change in the next 2-3 years to attack the top
GGPoker mixes up the poker world and can become number one
GGPoker has developed into the largest poker network in the world within a few years and, apart from the Asian IDN Network, is the clear number 2 behind the market leader PokerStars. Of course, success also has its reasons. On the one hand, GG is very strongly represented in the Asian market, which is a great advantage compared to other providers. The Asian market is still growing and has incredible potential for the future.
Much more interesting, however, is the strategic direction and the software. Let’s start with the software. For professional players who play a lot of tables, this cannot be compared to PokerStars or PartyPoker, but it is also not that much worse. It is much more important that this is particularly popular with casual gamers. The desktop software as well as the mobile app are super structured and simply set up. Nicely coordinated in terms of color and really pleasant to look at. There are unique functions such as the all-in insurance where the player can protect his hand from bad beats, the in-house analysis tool PokerCraft, the staking function to buy or sell action from other players in tournaments, or even that SnapCam, with which you can share your emotions and send a short video to all other players. That was only a small part of the functions in the GGNetwork, there are even more. The software is definitely one of the big pluses and this sets you apart from the competition. The many functions mean you have a lot more fun at the table and a completely different gaming experience.
Another big advantage is the large pool of players. With a 7-day average of around 5,400 cash game players, you are in 3rd place in the global ranking, just behind the IDN network and around 3,000 players behind PokerStars. If you consider that GGPoker had a 7-day average of around 2,400 cash game players at the beginning of 2020, the development is enormous. PokerStars is still a long way off, but if anyone has a real chance of becoming the new number 1, it is definitely GG.
It’s not about the cash game players either, but they also offer a fantastic range of large multi-table tournaments, as an official partner of the WSOP there are always very special tournament series for tournament players with millions of guaranteed prize money. There were also real WSOP rings and bracelets to be won online! The competition cannot keep up.
GG also goes to great lengths to create interesting varieties. Be it the All-In or Fold variant, which you won’t find anywhere else, or the in-house Fast Fold Poker or Spin & Go variant. Of course you can find this with every provider, but not in the form here.
You can argue about rakeback. It is a fact that other sites offer a better and more transparent Rakeback / VIP program. But that doesn’t mean that GGPoker isn’t attractive anyway. The Fish Buffet program, which applies to GGNetwork skins, offers players at the highest VIP level 60% weekly cashback. Sounds great so far, but there is also the PVI, which makes the whole thing a little more complicated. The short form is that with a good winning player, $ 1 rake is not $ 1 rake in the end. You can find more information on this topic in our detailed PVI article. Not all players agree with this, but as already said, the fish buffet is still very attractive and competitive even with the PVI factor. Much more important is that this is also very interesting for casual players and also brings a bit of thrill and fun with it. It’s not just the player who generates 100 $ rake and then gets back the amount X, it’s just different and more interesting for many recreational players. In addition, there are also a diffremt kind of promotions and rake races worth several million USD each month, which definitely no other poker room can beat.
Dealing with professional players is a point of criticism for many, but we wonder why. The sharks are never really satisfied. PokerStars offers too little rakeback, PartyPoker has too little action, Unibet’s software isn’t that good, etc. And at GGPoker, PVI and special rules on bumhunting and table selection are criticized. If you are interested in this topic, please read our article. Even if many do not want to admit it, these things are also a reason why the field of players in the network still has a healthy balance and why the number of players continues to rise.
The size of the network cannot be compared to the iPoker network, there are comparatively few skins but a few. One of the biggest is Natural8 which also brings a lot of players from Asia to the tables.
GG likes to work actively with affiliates, even if there are certain requirements and rules that are very different from those of the other poker rooms. Even if we don’t share them 100%, it still makes sense and we support and follow them so as it should be. If you question the background from a business point of view, it also becomes clear why these rules exist and what goal you are pursuing with them.
If GGPoker continues the way and the strategy as before and continues to work closely with the big affiliates and that also in the long term, the way to the top is only a matter of time.
The iPoker network is an old hand, but it has been going in the wrong direction for many years
The iPoker network is definitely a big name in the industry and no other network has that many skins. Since SBR was introduced in 2015 (similar to PVI at GGPoker) things have been going downhill all the time. But it’s not just about SBR, it’s much more because you haven’t really developed any further. The software is okay, no question, but not that special either. In the mobile area in particular, far too little has been done and people have lost touch.
The departure of Ladbrokes / CoralPoker was of course not helpful for the network, and especially with Ladbrokes you lost a big skin. Expectations were high when it became known that almost all old skins of the Microgaming Network (MPN) were switching to iPoker. Particularly at the Betsson Group with the top brands Betsson / Betsafe, some expectations were set, but so far they have not really been met. Well, you’re still ahead of 888Poker, WPN or Unibet, but that’s far too little for the network’s ambitions.
The number of players and the field of players are actually okay. There is no real high roller traffic, but there are always running tables up to NL1,000, especially in Texas Holdem. Surprisingly, the pool of players is relatively soft, which you wouldn’t expect because iPoker is one of the few providers still allowed to use various auxiliary programs and a HUD when playing at the tables. Of course, that especially pleases the professional players. The reason why there are relatively many fish is that there are many large sports betting providers in the iPoker network, where players also like to come to the poker tables.
The rakeback offer is okay and we as an affiliate have special VIP Flat Rakeback Deals that are not available in this form at any other poker room. There are also various network promotions from time to time, but they are manageable. Only the Twister Rake Races are very popular and interesting.
Even if the name is big and iPoker has been in business for a long time, the potential is manageable. There is not much going on in the future and you will move on the same level as now. The competition is just better!
Unibet is an insider tip with a great forecast and potential for the future
Unibet used to be part of the Microgaming network until they decided to go their own way and act independently. After a short time the MPN was overtaken and the development has been really impressive since then. As the only independent provider besides PokerStars, Unibet has established itself on the market without belonging to a network.
Unibet has very strict guidelines when it comes to technical aids. The use of a HUD is strictly prohibited and hand histories cannot be downloaded. This has the effect that the player pool at Unibet is by far one of the softest in the world and there are a lot of weak players, especially in Texas No Limit Holdem. The number of players in Texas Holdem is completely sufficient and there is plenty of action even at the higher limits. Aside from the micro-stakes, Pot Limit Omaha is unfortunately as good as dead and the range of MTTs is also very limited. But there is plenty of action at the Sit & Go tables and the Hexa Pro SNG (spins) are very popular. Well, you won’t find any action at the $ 5o + limits, but you can have fun up to the $ 20 tables.
A big minus point has long been the VIP system, which on the one hand is very complicated and was more geared towards recreational players. From April 2021 there will be a completely revised VIP / Rakeback program, which will then also be more tailored to the frequent players. This step will definitely drive up player numbers and rake.
The software takes a bit of getting used to for many, but is gradually being improved and further developed. It is now also possible to play several tables at the same time without any problems. The mobile app is fine and the browser version is also very popular with many players, as you don’t have to download a poker client here.
When it comes to promotions/rake races, Unibet lags far behind the competition and we can only hope that the new VIP program will make improvements here as well. With targeted promotions, possibly aimed at PLO or MTTs, one could also make a start here and push the number of players.
The cooperation with affiliates is completely fine as far as we can tell, although there are certain things that should be improved and reconsidered, especially the problems with tracking new players. Nevertheless, compared to other providers, they are on the right track.
In our opinion, Unibet can achieve a lot in the near future and it is not unrealistic that in 1-2 years it will place itself in front of big names like 888, iPoker or the WPN network.