In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, one surprising revelation was how poker had become more popular. Despite playing second fiddle to most other online casino games for a while, more people took to virtual chips.
With vaccines rolling out across the UK, it might be easy to assume that the return to normality will leave poker in the dark again. But is that really the case?
Well, not necessarily.
Here’s why online poker still has a place once the pandemic is over.
Poker during the pandemic
You probably remember where you were on that Friday evening in March 2020, when Boris Johnson announced that the country would go into lockdown. Soon after, the UK was thrown into restrictions not seen in many of our lifetimes.
In the first month of the first lockdown, UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) data signalled that the number of wagers placed in online poker rose from just under 113.1 million in March to 226.5 million in April.
By August 2020, the number had levelled out to 100.7 million. However, this was still higher than in March 2019 – before the pandemic hit.
So, while statistics suggest that COVID’s end could see poker slip to the back of players’ minds again, why might that not be the case? Below are three reasons.
Variety for players
While online casino players have their favourite games, variety will also keep them engaged if they want to try something else.
Poker is well-known for being a social event around the world. Online, users can – in some cases – participate with others. And if that isn’t the case, they’ve got live dealers to interact with.
The vertical also attracts sports bettors – not just online casino players – since its strategies are somewhat similar. So, it’s a nice ‘across-the-board’ game to offer.
New and old fans
Part of the UKGC’s pandemic poker statistics will include people who’ve played the vertical for ages, and would have done so even without restrictions. However, it’s pretty clear that the vertical has attracted new players too.
Once restrictions are lifted, there’s nothing to say that those new fans won’t continue to gain entertainment from poker. And as casinos reopen, those who play the land-based version may be intrigued to see if online is any different – and if so, how much it is.
The right infrastructure
Online poker might be less popular than the likes of blackjack and roulette. But that’s not because the infrastructure isn’t in place. Operators and suppliers put just as much effort into these games as they do with their more popular titles.
On a large number of regulated online poker sites, players will find fast ways to deposit into their accounts. Moreover, they’ll be able to get hold of any winnings just as fast as if they were playing another casino game.
With the right infrastructure in place, online poker can offer a nice extra channel for both players and betting sites.
While online poker may not return to the same levels that it experienced during the early stages of the pandemic, it still has a strong place in a post-corona world of online casinos. New and old players will continue to enjoy these games, and operators will keep having the right infrastructure to cater for them.
Poker is also dynamic enough to attract players from sports betting, other online casino sub-verticals and even the likes of bingo. And for that reason, it will always have a place in the online gambling landscape.