Did You Realize There Are More Than 250 Online Poker Rooms?

by Lou on June 8, 2006

PokerRoomReview.com recently announced that its rating guide has grown to include 252 online poker rooms.

The Online Poker Room Rating Guide rates internet poker sites based on the quality of their website, software, graphics, player community, banking options, customer service and promotions. It also allows players to write and submit a review on any online poker room and have it published on the website to share with others.

But what really astounded me was the fact that there are more than 250 poker websites. Even if many of these sites are parts of larger networks, that’s still a big number.

And probably bigger than it will be in the future. As industries grow and mature, the size of the field winnow away. Some are gobbled up by bigger competitors while others just can’t compete and fade away.

A quick examination of automobile manufacturing in the United States shows that dozens of brands have disappeared over the years. Up market Packards and Duesenbergs have vanished as surely as lower end cars such as Studebaker and Nash. When industry wide consolidation inevitably happens, there’s usually a niche that’s filled by specialty brands. That’s where you run into the occasional eye-catching Lotus or Lamborghini tooling down the highway.

But there’s a major difference between poker and motor cars. In poker, the product and the customer are one and the same. When that happens — when the bigger rooms invariably eat the smaller ones — there’s no space for specialty rooms. An online poker site without a critical mass of players won’t have a sufficient number of games to survive, and unless it joins a network it will die.

Competition will always be there, but I’m looking for far fewer poker rooms in the future. Once the market is saturated and the only way to grow is to attract players from other sites, you can expect consolidation to escalate rapidly.

I’d expect no more than four to seven major players in the future. Some will be networks, such as Prima (now Microgaming), that have achieved critical mass by bringing a number of smaller operators together using a common software to support their online games. Others will be single operators that grew large on their own as well as by swallowing up smaller rivals.

This is a case where the future is more easily understood than the present. I’m still shocked at the fact that there are 252 or more online poker rooms. Even allowing for the fact that many of these rooms are networked, it’s still a huge number, and probably way too large to survive as is in the future.

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