A new poker boom? Our State of Poker survey results are in

Person taking an online survey
Author Adam Hampton
Adam Hampton
Posted on: April 22, 2024 07:40 PDT

It goes without saying that at PokerOrg we love the game of poker; we’re fascinated by its past, excited for its future, and fully engaged with every player, each game and all the narratives of its ever-changing present.

The other thing we love is you, our readers and followers, the ones out there finding new ways to play and think about the game.

That’s why we reached out to our readers in the USA with our State of Poker survey to see what you, the players, really think about where poker is at right now. Because we’ve got a hunch that poker is growing, but as players ourselves we know that when it comes to testing an idea, nothing beats data.

With the results now in, we're happy to report back that our hunch around poker’s growth appears to be correct. We’ll share more specifics from the survey over the coming weeks, but first let’s zoom out for an overall look at the state of poker today.

Good news: Poker is on the rise

Our survey polled close to 1,300 players across America, 24% of whom identified as female and 59% as experienced players.

A breakdown of respondents for the PokerOrg State of Poker 2024 survey

When asked if they agreed that poker’s popularity is growing, 56% said yes. Just 9% felt that poker is in decline, with the remaining 35% stating that the popularity of poker is stable.

The biggest area of growth identified by US readers is in the live tournament space which, given the unprecedented numbers seen at last year’s World Series of Poker - as well as other booming live series like the APT, the WPT and the return of the NAPT, to name just a few - should come as little surprise.

"I think that live tournament series are definitely in a bit of a boom," agrees poker pro and Player Advisory Board (PAB) member Jonathan Little , "I think the poker media does an excellent job of promoting the game and showing off the winners, which I think is a major reason tournament series have maintained prestige."

It looks like our hunch was right - poker is growing - and we couldn’t be happier.

Survey results show poker is believed to be growing

The BIG question: Are you a winning poker player?

Wouldn’t life be great if we were all winning players? With only 15% holding their hands up as losing poker players, we’re left with a few possible explanations:

  1. Those 15% are losing enough to keep the other 85% in action
  2. People have unrealistic notions of their own abilities
  3. Folks don’t like ‘fessing up to being the fish in their games
  4. PokerOrg readers are just plain better at poker

We’re leaning towards that last one, ourselves…

Survey results reveal how many players think they are winning, losing or breakeven

Online vs live, tournaments vs cash games: where’s the split?

Or… is there a split? Perhaps not: of our survey respondents, 90% enjoy both live and online poker, with 6% sticking to the live arena and 4% online-only. When given the choice of just live or just online, however, we saw a 50/50 divide. Looks like there’s a split after all.

Survey results break down live and online poker preferences

When pressed to choose between tournaments and cash games, we saw an interesting result. While not ahead by a huge margin, we can see that more online players prefer tournaments, with slightly more live players opting for cash.

We’re sure many would argue that playing tournaments can be a smoother experience online, where lines to register are non-existent and there’s no wait for the restroom during breaks. And likewise, grinding cash games can be more fun if you have a laugh and a joke with the players at your table - something that’s harder to do via text in an online chat box.

We also heard from a lot of players that the lack of good live tournaments near their homes was one of their biggest issues, so the chance to play online tourneys around the clock may be a factor in the preference for online tournament play.

Survey results showing preferences for cash games or poker tournaments

Is mobile poker good enough (yet)?

If, like soccer superstar Neymar , you enjoy playing online poker on a mobile device, you’re not alone; just over half of our survey respondents have played some poker on mobile.

But of the 46% who choose not to play on mobile, around half feel the mobile software available isn’t yet good enough. The other 48%? That it will never be good enough!

It seems the challenge is on for a mobile poker client of sufficient quality to convince players to take to the small screen in big numbers.

Around half our survey respondents have played some poker on mobile devices

Home games are thriving

Cards, chips, dips… in our opinion there’s nothing like a home game between friends, and it seems the majority of our respondents agree, with 77% of experienced players playing home games at least occasionally.

That number rises when it comes to newer players, with 38% playing home games regularly and 45% on occasion. That just leaves 17% of new players to pick up the game online or in casinos and public card rooms, where newbie moves like string bets and acting out of turn aren’t so easily dismissed (don’t worry, we’ve all been there).

Our survey shows most players play home games at least occasionally

Home games being on the rise can only be good for poker, especially as that’s where many people play for the first time.

The majority of respondents - 57% - got their introduction to poker through friends and family, at college or via a friend taking them to a local card room.

A further 41% found the game through media such as TV shows, online streamers or excellent internet poker news sites . You’re welcome.

This infographic shows the most common routes into poker of our survey respondents

The luck vs skill debate

Is it even a debate, anymore? It feels like the more we play, the more we know this is a game where skill trumps luck. Those guys at the top of the all-time money lists aren’t simply the luckiest players in the world, after all.

And that’s a trend reflected in the data: experienced players are more likely to see poker as a game involving more skill than luck (81%), than novice players (62%). But the fact that both sets acknowledge the crucial skill component makes us happy - it’s why we have a poker strategy section in the first place.

PAB member Alex O'Brien is well-placed to comment, having previously written extensively about the skill elements of poker. "Take a closer look at poker and you will find that it’s just like any other strategy game. Why? To succeed in strategic games, you have to dedicate time to study – and poker can be more complex than chess. It’s the game’s complexity that will take you through a mental and physical assault course, and each time you come through the other end you will have learnt a little bit more about who you are and who you want to become."

So, go check out some of our awesome strategy tips and level up your skills (disclaimer: we can’t promise any improvement in your luck).

The vast majority of our survey respondents view poker as primarily a game of skill

The WSOP is still the dream

What do players dream of? What’s the pot of gold at the end of the poker rainbow?

It’s probably no surprise to hear, but that World Champion bracelet is still the most coveted prize in poker today. More players want to win a big live tournament like the WSOP Main Event than to become a live or online cash game crusher, to bink a big online tourney, or to become a social media influencer. Heck, more people want to win the Big One than to become a full-time poker pro.

There’s only one way to do that, of course, and that’s to head to Las Vegas this summer and take on the other poker players with their eyes on the prize.

And if you’re one of the 85% of PokerOrg readers who are break-even or better, you’re off to a great start!

Graphic shows the biggest poker dream is to win a big live tourney

Speaking of the WSOP, we’ll be in Las Vegas this summer to bring you all the action, every day.

In the meantime, make sure to check back next week for more insights into the State of Poker as defined by you, the PokerOrg readers.