REC PLAYER ROUNDUP: US Online Poker Operators Work to Attract More Average Joe & Jane Players

Sean Chaffin November 24, 2020
REC PLAYER ROUNDUP: US Online Poker Operators Work to Attract More Average Joe & Jane Players

As the US online poker market reaches unprecedented heights, more players are getting in the game. From major buy-in tournaments like the upcoming World Poker Tour Main Tour event to the World Series of Poker Main Event, there’s never been a better time to bet and bluff online.

And while those big buy-in, prestigious events garner headlines, low- and mid-stakes players remain vital to the industry. Maybe it’s a guy who gets off work and plays a few sit and go’s after dinner.

A commuter might break out a poker app for a few hands while sitting on a train heading to work. Perhaps the $5 tournament grinder has won a ticket for a bigger buy-in event that’s part of a major tournament series.

Adding more recreational players to the mix is what will grow the game in the long run. USPoker reached out to the major legal US online poker sites to get their perspectives and how they’re appealing to this player segment.

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Quite a party for non-poker pros at partypoker

The partypoker US Network currently offers real money online poker in New Jersey and has been approved in Pennsylvania. Party officials make efforts to reach out to recreational players through tailored events and promotions.

Like most operators, partypoker offers a wide range of price points for tournaments, sit and go’s, and cash games. The site’s regular Online Series offer opportunities for players in the $5-10 range up to a few hundred bucks.

The site has also found success with its popular Phase tournaments as well. These offer numerous flights and qualifiers to earn entry into a bigger event.

Satellites will also be a major part of the upcoming WPT Online Poker Open. In this case, qualifiers offer players a chance to live a dream and join the WPT Champions Club.

Another new promotion offers rec players a shot at big money. Players who took part in two or more Sunday $35,000 Guaranteed tournaments (Nov 1-22) earned a $215 entry into the Sunday $100,000 Guaranteed on Nov. 29.

The Grind (BorgataPoker.com) and Regulars Rewards (BetMGM) programs also offer ongoing monthly promotions to reward all players. In the daily “Spin the Wheel” promotion, players simply earn 1 or more iRPs playing poker to claim a spin. Prizes include:

  • Hot Cash Bonus
  • loyalty points
  • tournament tickets valued up to $215

“Recreational players and low to mid-stakes players are the backbone of the poker community,” BetMGM/partypoker US Network director of poker Ray Stefanelli says. “Without this group, which makes up a large percentage of the poker player pool, it would be difficult to run a poker network.”

PokerStars brings plenty of ways to win

This is another operator that recognizes the need to bring more recreational players into the market. With Americans seeing so many options for their extra time, company officials view keeping the entertainment value as critical to success.

 “Players of all skill levels and bankrolls play pivotal roles in the success of online poker for different reasons,” PokerStars head of poker operations Luke Staudenmaier said. “An operator’s ability to attract recreational players is linked to poker’s capacity to entertain, while more skilled players provide the liquidity needed for games to start.

“Still, nothing is more important for the growth and health of online poker than legal, shared poker in as many markets as possible.” 

Staudenmaier says every aspect of the PokerStars experience is viewed through the lens of a recreational player. That includes software, rewards, and even tournament structures for US players in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Progressive knockout (PKO) tournaments are one example he offers. The last time Pennsylvania residents were able to play on PokerStars in 2011, these tournaments didn’t exist.

“Now they make up a sizable portion of all scheduled tournaments we offer,” Staudenmaier says. “The reason is simply that recreational and skilled players alike have shown that they enjoy the mechanics, and of course, we want to maximize everyone’s entertainment in the community. We’ll continue to adapt based on what our players are telling us and trends in the industry.”

The Bounty Builder Series highlights the popularity of PKO tournaments, Staudenmaier notes. Tournament players will also find plenty of satellites, qualifiers, and affordable buy-ins. 

These offer plenty of value and start as low as $1 with freerolls also in the mix. In Pennsylvania, the recent Anniversary Series featured events starting in the $10-$30 range.

PokerStars sees recreational players as a huge segment of the US online poker market and works to cater to this group.

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Redeemable For Cash Prizes

WSOP.com offer numerous ways to play

Winning some hardware remains a major attraction for players at WSOP.com. From bracelets to championship rings to title belts, there’s plenty of bling to battle for.

That includes series like the recently announced Super Online Circuit Series. WSOP.com offers numerous satellites and mega satellites for these events – some nice opportunities at a low price point.

The online circuit events continue to be highly successful and something we will look to expand upon in 2021 as live events should return gradually to the schedule,” WSOP executive director Ty Stewart says.

Rec players even have some opportunities to play in the $10,000 Main Event, which moved online for 2020. Qualifiers start at just $1 and there will also be weekly freerolls.

WSOP.com is set to launch in Pennsylvania soon. (photo courtesy WSOP)

Players will also find numerous sit and go’s with smaller buy-ins as well as the $100 Daily Freeroll. The $1,000 Hero Freeroll also honors current or former members of the armed forces and fire or police departments.

In recent years, WSOP officials have worked to reach “weekend warrior” players at the live series each summer. The goal is to give players with smaller bankrolls plenty of value. That spirit appears to apply to the online product as well.

Global Poker brings the social gaming fun

This social gaming, sweepstakes poker site has seen huge growth over the last year. A big part of that has been its efforts at reaching poker players just looking for some fun.

Global Poker stresses the fun of poker through interesting avatars, trophies, and swag for winners as well as unique events. Global uses a two-tiered virtual currency system.

Players can use Gold Coins for free play or receive Sweeps Coins as a bonus when purchasing more Gold Coins. Sweeps Coins can be used in separate ring games and tournaments. They can also be redeemed for cash prizes and gift cards.

Players will find plenty of micro- to mid-stakes action as well as numerous satellites even for daily tournaments. There are also freerolls and regular tournaments starting at only SC1 (known as “Buckaments”). Global is available to players in the US and Canada (excluding Washington and Quebec).

The site also adds to the fun on social media. Global often rewards players for showing off their winning trophies on Twitter or Facebook. Recreational players seem to be a huge part of the Global Poker experience and site management seems to understand that.

US online poker market continues to see major growth

With more lockdowns in some states and major live poker on hold, the American online poker market continues to surge. US online operators have worked to meet growing demand.

Numbers have ebbed downward since the highs of March, April, and May. However, year over year the US regulated market remains in great shape.

Recreational players remain a huge part of that and poker sites are working to keep them coming back.

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