Will We Ever See An Online Poker Boom in the US Again? 

The golden era for online poker lasted from 2003 to 2006. During this illustrious period, Planet Poker and PokerStars were kings of the internet, with millions of people around the world signing up to play Texas hold ’em and other popular variations of the classic card game. There were countless big-money online poker tournaments taking place during this time, too, with prize pools big enough to buy a luxury mansion. Just look at Chris Moneymaker, who won the 2003 World Series of Poker ‘Main Event’ ($2.5m) after successfully qualifying online. It was a crazy time. 

Flashforward to 2024 and online poker is still popular, with the likes of GGPoker and Red Star Poker leading the way. However, the new era of online poker isn’t even close to the ‘poker boom’ from twenty years ago, where it seemed like everyone was playing poker using their home computers. Now, gamblers are more focused on games like slots and roulette, as they’re easier to play and are seen by many as more profitable. This leads to the huge question: will online poker ever truly boom again in the US? 

Yes, Online Poker Might Become Popular Again — Here’s How It Can Be Done

Without a doubt, online poker will never die. 

Having said this, though, online poker is facing an uphill battle to resemble what it was in the 2000s. 

As things stand, there are too many other fan-favorite casino games dominating the internet, with slots being the number one choice. Throw on top of this the likes of online roulette, video poker, and ‘crash games’, you begin to see why poker has seen a slight decline over the past decade. 

All of online poker’s rival games are short-form, which makes for fast-paced action. This appeals to modern gamblers more, as they have shorter attention spans. Remember, the average online poker match is about 25-minutes long and tournaments can be anywhere from 4-10 hours, so this is a problem for casual players who simply don’t want to commit their time. 

The online poker world has tried to address this over recent years. For example, some popular poker sites, like PokerStars, have rolled out ‘Short Deck Online Poker’, where a deck of 36 cards is used instead of 52. However, this variation is still yet to take off, with only a handful of sites offering Short Deck rooms. 

Alex Windsor, analyst from the popular online gambling site Gamble USA, has shared his views on this: 

“Many people thought that Short Deck would potentially surpass Texas Hold’em in terms of popularity, but it never got close. People still love traditional poker, and you can’t blame them. However, this does pose a slight problem for poker site owners, as they might struggle to modernize online poker without disgruntling the old-school crowd.” 

How to Create Another Online Poker Boom 

With most online poker sites and apps hoping to create another ‘boom’ moving into the future, there are many ways in which they can do this. A good starting point would be to collaborate with more YouTube poker vloggers and streamers, who have been a huge driver behind poker site traffic for several years now. Sites should also look to increase ‘buy-ins’ to create bigger prize pools, offer more exciting bonuses for sign-ups, and shorten game lengths so that they’re fast-paced. Another key would be to make online poker more social, as there’s been a recent increase in demand for social casino games. All of these factors would appeal to the new age of gamblers while also providing incentives to ‘old-school’ online poker players, too. 

Why Did Online Poker Become Less Popular? 

Since around 2010, online poker has experienced a decline in player numbers and overall engagement. There are lots of factors behind this, including the Full Tilt poker scandal of 2011, explosion of online slots, and a widening skill gap. The last point is perhaps one of the most significant ones that people don’t often talk about in the online poker world. Older-generation players (who have been playing online poker for decades) are usually a lot better than new-generation players, which makes it incredibly difficult for newer players to bridge the skill gap. 

The Future of Online Poker: Predictions 

Online poker isn’t going anywhere — despite a decrease in player numbers. 

WSOP online tournaments are still extremely popular (with a $100k tournament taking place every Sunday), sites like PokerStars still have thousands of daily players, and there remains an appetite to learn online poker amongst younger generations. The major problem holding it back, though, remains the drastic rise in popularity of games like online slots, which continue to dominate the casino game charts. 

When you take all of this into account, the most likely outcome is that online poker will continue to stick around for decades to come. However, poker sites should shift their focus to collaborating with influencers, making games shorter and more fast-paced, adding social elements for new-generation players, and increasing prize pools. If done right, this could lead to an online poker boom 2.0, which would once again revolutionize the industry. 

Will We Ever See An Online Poker Boom in the US Again?