AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 13.01.2021 · last updated 13.01.2021

Current overview of the UK online poker market

The UK has always had a reputation for being a nation that loves to gamble. This is typified by events such as the Grand National, when people who never even think about sport or poker or casinos – never mind odds and statistics etc. – join in the fun and have a bet on a horse based on its name or the colour of the jockey’s silks. British people are the collective epitome of what gambling should be – fun.

And not only is poker incredibly popular in the UK, but we shouldn’t forget that Britain is arguably responsible for the global online poker boom that saw the remarkable phenomenon become what it is today. We wouldn’t be here now, enjoying the non-stop, 24/7 smorgasbord of poker, where literally anyone who can play this fascinating game can win a life-changing amount of money in a matter of minutes, had it not been for pioneering poker TV shows such as, for example, Late Night Poker. As odd as it may sound, this started way back in a different millenium! Many players reading this article who have grown up in a world where poker – and specifically online poker, which couldn’t seem any more ‘normal’ in a world which now revolves around the internet – don’t realise that they were born around the same time that the global phenomenon of online poker was also born, sparked by the likes of the late great, WSOP bracelet-winning, Poker Hall of Fame inductee David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot and his contemporaries appearing on TV screens across the UK and sowing the seeds that eventually spread across the globe.

With this in mind it should come as no surprise that, when the nation was effectively confined to their homes for much of 2020 due to the so-called lockdowns increasingly imposed by a government endeavouring to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic, online poker (along with online gambling) in the UK, which was already one of the healthiest in the world, enjoyed a massive renaissance.

As the streets became more or less deserted, nightclubs, cinemas, casinos and, essentially, almost all of the leisure industry closed down, the internet was the saviour in terms of keeping a nation entertained. Different countries and cultures have different ways of doing things but, in the UK, online gambling has played a not inconsiderable part in keeping the UK happily entertained.

And the numbers provided by the UK’s Gambling Commission bear this out. Compared with a year earlier, the statistics from spring of 2020 point to a big increase in online gambling during the COVID pandemic. And poker was no exception. Note that, ironically, the biggest sector, namely sports betting, saw a decrease because, of course, there ended up being practically no sport on which to bet. But other forms of online gambling experienced booms.

In terms of the number of bets placed on a product, poker in the UK saw a year-on-year increase of 38% and, for active players, the number compared with the previous year was up a whopping 53%…

As well as there being new players dipping their proverbial toes into the virtual water (a third of online gamblers tried one or more gambling activities for the first time during lockdown), the number of existing players who played for longer than an hour increased by 23%, too.

It’s also interesting that online gamblers seem to have been more engaged in news during lockdown!

YouGov data showed that those who had gambled online in the previous month were more likely than average to have:

  • Viewed more news online (53% of gamblers compared to 49% of all adults)
  • Spent more online on entertainment (17% of gamblers compared to 11% of all adults)
  • Watched TV more (58% of gamblers compared to 42% of all adults)
  • Consumed more on-demand entertainment (51% of gamblers compared to 35% of all adults)

Of course, despite the massive boom in online poker in 2020, numbers did gradually decrease as the year went on, although it’s certainly looking healthy for UK poker fans, and augurs well for the future. What helps is the fact that – thanks to UK gambling laws accommodating what is generally a positive attitude and outlook on online gambling and gambling in general (including poker) – there’s so much great choice available to budding British poker fans. There’s not only quality in terms of the online poker rooms for UK players, but a lot of it.

And the good news is that YourPokerDream has UK-facing online poker partners that are perfect for all kinds of player and all kinds of bankroll, and signing up via YPD also means you can take advantage of a host of exclusive extras to help in boosting your bankroll.  

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