This is a paid guest post.
As two rapidly growing genres in the online gaming industry, both esports and poker have begun to captivate and entertain large numbers of people in recent years.
The global esports industry is growing at a rate of around 14% each year and it has been predicted that by 2021, there will be over 557 million people participating or viewing esports. Similarly, the online poker industry is growing year on year, with the game bringing in around £2.4 billion in revenue last year in the UK.
These two types of gaming have a lot in common. Both attract gamers from around the world who are looking to compete with one another, develop skills and win prizes. Also, global organizations have monetized these games, creating large scale tournaments that have been receiving increasing amounts of attention in the media recently.
Both esports and online poker are games of strategy, and while the barriers of entry are perhaps a little lower for esports players, both game types are easy to get involved with and succeed in for players, providing they have the patience to practice their skills and engage with the online gaming communities.
Let’s take a more in-depth look into how esports and poker compare in the online gaming world:
Esports and online poker are enjoyed by people of all ages, genders and nationalities (with the exception being that online poker players must be at least 18 years old). However, the age demographic for esports viewership and participation is slightly younger than online poker. In this industry, 64% of viewers of esports are aged 18 to 34. Younger viewers and players have grown up in the digital era and are the prime audiences on streaming sites such as Twitch and YouTube.
Online poker attracts a slightly older age demographic, with the biggest player demographic being those aged between 35 and 44. Research suggests that these players have more disposable income than their younger counterparts, and therefore have a bit more spare cash to wager on online games.
Interestingly, research has also highlighted that older poker players prefer land based casino venues, whereas younger players favoured online casinos. While visiting a land based venue may be more of an occasion that can form part of a social evening out with friends, many online poker rooms have chat forums that allow players to discuss strategies and catch up with other poker friends and enthusiasts.
A similar trend is apparent in the world of esports. Older players and viewers are more inclined to get involved in traditional sports, whereas 56% of Gen Z’s (aged 13 to 21) are more receptive to online sports in comparison to traditional ones.
Large scale tournaments
There are a number of well-established online and offline poker events, with the World Series of Poker being one of the most famous examples of these tournaments. These tournaments often receive coverage in mainstream media and are broadcast on popular channels such as ESPN. Cash prizes at the biggest events can reach hundreds of thousands of pounds and professional players have even been known to rake in seven digit sums through their tournament winnings.
In comparison, esports tournaments are still an ‘up and coming’ fixture in the gaming events calendar. While esports competitions are open to both amateurs and professionals, the very best players now have the opportunity to be signed up to sponsorship deals. This is something that has existed in the world of competitive online poker for a number of years.
While esports winnings may not have reached the same impressive heights of poker winning, winning these competitions has proven life changing for some players. In 2017, the Valve’s Dota 2 Championship had a prize fund of $24,787,916. Events such as the FIFA Eclub World Cup Final are now broadcast on Sky Sports and BBC.
While it is true that anyone with an internet connection can access online poker or esports, online poker is slightly more restricted in terms of access, particularly for players in nations that have tight gambling regulations. However, both types of gaming have huge supportive online communities that provide great content and advice for those interested in playing games for the first time.
Both esports and online poker communities have influencers. These influencers are people who are experts in their field, they share regular updates about what they’re playing, give advice and tips and even stream themselves during gameplay on sites such as Twitch.
While these influencers may be earning money through sponsored content and other promotional deals, they are often regular people playing in their own homes and streaming through webcams. Some of the biggest influencers, like esports player Ninja and online poker player TonkaaaaP have millions of subscribers and are able to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds each month through regularly broadcasting content on their channels.
Esports and online poker have a lot in common. It could even be argued that online poker is itself an esport due to these similarities…Like sports, poker is a game of skill. However, for many its association with casinos and gambling separates it from esports, which is often described as competitive video gaming.
Whether or not you class online poker as an esport, both competitive sports games and poker are obviously enjoyed by many and will continue to thrive in the online gaming industry for years to come.