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Holiday promotions and player pool mergers have set the running order for 2013 in the battle for online poker market share. The merger of bwin’s player base with PartyPoker has firmly established Party in the number three slot, and for a week they briefly overtook the new Full Tilt in second position.

PokerStars’ lead remains apparently unassailable and according to data available on PokerScout.com, iPoker has been pushed firmly into fourth place. Since the bwin move to Party on Dec 18th, iPoker has averaged only 73% of Party’s cash game traffic during peak hours. The month before had seen iPoker marginally ahead of Party averaging 8% more peak traffic.

The boost to liquidity that Party gained from bwin’s players kept them ahead of Full Tilt for the whole week before Christmas. Full Tilt could only manage an average of 86% of Party’s traffic before Christmas day when a new set of promotions dramatically restored it to the number two spot with volumes 30% to 40% higher than Party.

Full Tilt’s latest promotions combined a reload bonus with a Happy Hour week which reduced the time necessary to clear the bonus. Party is offering $300k in freeroll tournaments during January so it looks like the two sites will continue to jockey for position after the holiday period.

Full Tilt’s post Christmas surge may indicate that the fall in traffic seen since the early euphoria of its relaunch has finally reached a plateau and that current peak hour cash numbers in excess of 7,000 players will be maintained.

PokerStars’ volumes are slightly down over December compared to November but they are still maintaining site traffic at about 200% that of Full Tilt, PartyPoker and iPoker combined.