No one can dispute that an essential part of poker is the drama of playing for real money. However, that doesn’t mean that when money leaves the equation that the game loses all its appeal. On the contrary, there are many things to enjoy while playing it on sites like PartyPoker using social gaming currency.
When the poker boom happened in the early 2000s, some players realized that they enjoy playing poker just for fun. This notion led to the rise of social platforms, as well as popular brands opening up free rooms. Today, KamaGames, the largest social operator, brings in annual revenues of close to $80 million, and the popularity of social poker keeps growing.
Social Networks and Poker Apps
Social networks have changed everything, games included. Near the end of the 2000s, they started to advance and incorporate gaming. In 2011, Zynga Poker was the largest poker site in the world, with 38 million players. Today, Zynga’s Texas Hold’Em Poker page on Facebook has 63 million likes. Making it the number one poker game in the world.
Along with social networks, we saw the parallel rise of the smartphone, and with it, mobile apps. The Zynga Poker app has over 50 million installs, while other popular poker application such as Mega Hit Poker, Governor of Poker, and Poker World, also have millions of installs. These apps allow users to play other players and to participate in massive online tournaments and promotions.
Online Poker Brands Launch Social Games
Seeing as social players are an entirely different demographic than those into real money games, major online brands try to grab that piece of the market as well. We already mentioned PartyPoker, who recently included a virtual currency – Diamonds. Players earn them by playing a specific number of hands, and once they have enough, they can use them for in-game upgrades.
In 2018, PokerStars launched a social poker game, and years prior, the World Series of Poker too released such an app. These apps make money through advertisements and in-game purchases. However, their main goal is to get players familiar with the game, nourish their liking to it, so that they can move over to the real money side of things.
Obstacles That Hinder Growth
Those not familiar with the industry may not know that these digital rooms are not legal everywhere. In the US, only a handful of states permit them, and countries such as Australia outright ban them. Though most European countries are laxer when it comes to online gambling.
In recent years, there has been some push back against social poker. Asia is a massive market, and it came as a shock when, in 2018, China placed a ban on play money poker apps. A move that insiders claim is catastrophic for the industry in the region. Many fear that this trend may spread all over Asia, as well as the Arab world. Gambling is mostly illegal in these regions, and many perceive social poker as a gateway into that world.