Ever since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act changed the landscape of online poker in the United States and all over the world in 2006, PokerStars has been the undisputed number one in terms of cash game traffic. Several contenders throughout the years were aiming for the top spot and partypoker even spent a brief spell in first place in 2006 before dropping into the middle of the pack.
The rise and fall of Full Tilt Poker brought another competitor but even at their peak, they couldn’t really come close to PokerStars. Then came Black Friday in 2011 and the world of poker was shaken up once more. Widespread online poker in the United States ceased to exist for a while and PokerStars cemented their top spot on the global level.
Nobody was able to come remotely close but this has since changed. The GGPoker Network (GGPN), of which Natural8 is one of the leading skins, has emerged as a serious contender. For the first time in nearly 15 years, another network has come within 10% of the undisputed leader in global cash game traffic.
PokerStars and the GGPN already went toe-to-toe on several occasions and the first major clash with large online poker festivals took place in Spring 2020. Back then, the Spring Championship of Online Poker became the biggest series of all times.
The GGPN was not far behind and got the better of the duel one year later when it hosted the largest online poker series in its history and second-largest overall. Eventually, the GG Spring Festival awarded more than $176 million in prize money and came up short of a new overall record by a mere $10 million.
And while other sites have experienced several swings in their cash game traffic, the GGPN has only endured one small bump as the otherwise slow and steady rise continues. As reported by online poker industry website Pokerfuse, the GameIntel data of concurrent cash game players shows a gap of approximately 600 between the two main contenders in May 2021.
This margin of fewer than 10% is the closest both operators have come. Just one year ago during the start of the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, all online poker sites received a massive boost in traffic. PokerStars soared to more than 12,000 while the GGPN with leading operator Natural8 was in second place with around 3,700 players. And a mere 12 months later, PokerStars has dropped below 6,000 while the GGPN has already climbed to more than 5,300.
The rise of the fastest-growing online poker network to the top continues without a hitch. Yet, the GGPN was only founded in 2014, back then it was called the Good Game Network and had a main focus on the Asian poker market. That still applies to date especially for Natural8, one of the most well-known brands in the Asia Pacific region. However, the focus of the site and the network in general has expanded world-wide to push the GGPN into a very comfortable second place.
With major network promotions running every month such as widespread leaderboards for cash games, SNG and various incentives for new players, it continues the push for the top spot. New innovative features and game types are rolled out regularly such as the GGCare Flipoutss, Flip & Go and Five Card PLO.
On top of all the network promotions, Natural8 is always aiming to provide additional exclusive prizes on top to provide the best value in the world of poker. Live event sponsorships for winning major events, exclusive Freerolls to give big festivals a shot and social media giveaways are just some of the measures in place.
And if the current cash game trends continue in the months to come, it may very well be the case that the network will claim the number one spot in 2021 and end the domination of PokerStars after nearly 15 years.
More exciting things are just around the corner with the extended partnership between the World Series of Poker and GGPoker Network, as Natural8 players will once more have the chance to compete for WSOP Online Bracelets in August 2021. And for the first time ever, the GGPN will also offer satellites for the pinnacle live poker event of the year, the $10,000 WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas!