I have to admit that I’m no expert using Google Trends (yet) but I was just checking out some stats on the site and there are some trends that seem to reflect what people are whispering in the background of the industry.
Here is the trend that is developing in the search for the word “poker” on Google.
Over at PokerScout they keep reporting year over year numbers are falling. This echos what many people are talking about outside of the public ear. You have two trends converging which is a petering out of the online poker market in general (as evidenced by search traffic above) and consolidation.
Remember, December was a huge month for online poker both seasonally and because Senator Harry Reid had a bill in front of Congress to legalize online poker in the US. Yet Google Trends shows that overall search traffic was barely above the levels of the previous year’s low point.
Look at searches for “pokerstars”
Their high season in Dec was lower than the year prior and they’ve dropped off just as rapidly in the first part of the year as they have in every other year. Not since 2008 have they started out a new year with search queries this low.
I guess you can make the argument that as a poker room becomes more popular people search for it less but if you go back to the Google Trends graph for “poker” as a whole it seems that the trend is on a decline. It’s not brand specific. Even a generic term like “poker” is trending down.
Even for terms like “poker bonus” the trend is heading down.
The poker bubble has burst. Right now everyone is scrambling not to be the latest carnage being reported in the press. Players are migrating from the smaller, and less liquid, poker sites to the most popular online poker rooms. This is why if you only follow PokerStars or FullTilt numbers it looks like everything is fine and dandy.
But in reality, there are no new markets to crack. There is no untapped source of US players. Despite all of the press releases that report some company or another is entering the Asian market (despite the fact there’s no such thing as “the Asian market”) in a big way, nobody is showing any major success in the region. Everyone is fighting tooth and nail over what’s left.