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As much of the world lies in the grips of a financial crisis, one poker site in particular continues to grow and expand its reaches.  PokerStars.com, the world’s largest online poker room, has seen a recent surge in membership.

The industry average of players online (playing a cash game) at any given time is about 4,000.  In September, PokerStars averaged more than 18,000 cash players per day.  This included their busiest day all year on Sunday, September 28th, when they had over 21,000 cash players online.  So what do they attribute this recent growth explosion to?  For one, they’ve been able to take advantage of some of the opportunities for expansion into markets that are just really seeing poker take off as a regular form of entertainment.  PokerStars has tapped into countries such as Germany, with their Intellipoker promotions, and Hungary, with the continued success of the European Poker Tour.

PokerStars has also recently launched an Italian-only version of its site at PokerStars.it.  This recent development will allow Italians to play online poker within the legal limits established by the Italian government.  Although this will not increase its regular traffic at PokerStars.com, it will increase their presence as an online poker powerhouse.  In fact, through their own market research, they’ve stated at PokerStars.com that they estimate about 500,000 accounts to be opened in the first year in Italy, creating a market of more than $539 million.  These developments at PokerStars may also serve as a sort of guide to other countries that have been hesitant to allow online poker.  As Fabio Angeli Bufalini (Italian Country Manager for PokerStars.com) states, “This is a ground-breaking time for the online poker industry and it’s very exciting that the Italian market is pioneering this move.  This is the start of a global template that could potentially be adopted in other markets internationally in the next few years.”

Combine all of this expansion with the many recent promotions at PokerStars, such as the “2X” and “Million Dollar Man” promotions, as well as the success of “Battle of the Planets” competition and the European and Latin American Poker Tours, and it’s easy to see why they continue to flourish while others might wither, or in some cases, cease to exist altogether.  Although they won’t reveal any future plans at this point, it’s probably safe to assume that they will not take their success for granted.  They will continue to do whatever they can to sustain their recent growth and tighten their grip on the title of “the world’s largest poker site.”