PokerStars Reclaims Top Spot From GGPoker in Global Cash Game Traffic PokerStars Reclaims Top Spot From GGPoker in Global Cash Game Traffic

The heads-up battle for the top spot in the global cash game rankings between PokerStars and GGPoker continues.

For the first time in exactly one month, PokerStars has reclaimed the top spot, according to numbers provided by GameIntel and available exclusive on the PRO Data platform—and pulled ahead of its fiercest competitor in many years.

PokerStars has been on a downward trend since the start of the year . It saw its traffic dip from more than 8,400 concurrent players, at the height of the lockdown-fueled poker mini-boom last summer, to just over 4,800 early in July.

During the same timeframe, GGPoker recorded far fewer losses, and took the lead. It was the first time in 15 years that market leader PokerStars was not sitting atop the rankings.

It was on June 20 when GGPoker surpassed PokerStars for the first time while both operators trended just above 5,000 concurrent cash game players. On July 14, GGPoker held a lead of more than 250 players and maintained it for another six days.

However, in the last couple of weeks there has been a surge in PokerStars traffic. According to the latest numbers provided by GameIntel, on July 21, PokerStars recovered to 5,224 concurrent players while GGPoker dipped to 5,108, putting the global online poker giant back in the number one position.

New Rewards Could be Boosting Traffic at PokerStars

A certain back-and-forth between the two dominating forces in the global online poker market can be expected—but the recent rise of PokerStars doesn’t come out of the blue.

PokerStars’ parent company Flutter recently pledged to fix the lack of generosity towards customers and a revamped rewards system appears the first major step in the right direction. The global online poker giant has started trialing a new rewards system.

Selected players can currently take advantage of far more rewards, which can equal up to 65% cashback.

The current test phase will run until September 30 and around 20% of PokerStars’ global customer base were selected to participate. Feedback will be gathered by the operator throughout the entire period, who will then determine if the trial was a success. Whether or not the program will then be rolled out to all players remains to be seen.

While it only impacts one fifth of its players, the announcement has coincided with strong cash game growth at PokerStars.

Germany Could Also Be a Decisive Factor

Another recent change that could explain the shift has been the different approach on how to handle the tax collection according to the new online gambling law in Germany, which went into effect on July 1.

GGPoker opted to follow the path of most other competitors and removed the high-stakes cash games for German players. However, while maintaining the vast majority of the game offering for one of the notable markets, the operator has also shifted the tax burden on winning players.

GGPoker is collecting the 5.3% turnover tax from winnings at the end of a current session on each table. This approach was implemented on July 14 and just one week later, the top spot in cash game rankings has changed.

The timing may be a coincidence but the revamped efforts of PokerStars and GGPoker’s approach in Germany combined may well underpin the shift.

Whatever the reason, for the time being PokerStars is back on top of the global cash game rankings and will be determined to keep it that way.