Why is online poker so popular in Indonesia

Indonesia has made great strides over the last few decades. Its per capita income is now on par with many other developed nations. It certainly isn’t fair to characterize the country as being the backwards, third-world dictatorial toilet bowl it was under, say, Suharto. But its per-capita income is still low enough that true first-world economic opportunities can have a huge impact on the lives of its residents.

While online poker has experienced a precipitous decline in recent decades, it’s exactly in places like Indonesia, countries with relatively high average IQ’s and hardworking, studious populations, where online poker or the so called agen poker uang asli, has remained quite popular. In some cases, online poker has actually increased its market in countries that straddle the line between second and first world existence.

For example, although Portugal would be considered by most to be squarely among the ranks of developed countries, it’s still far from a Germany or Switzerland. PokerStars’ recent launch of its Portugal site was an amazing success, far exceeding what even the most optimistic experts predicted.

It’s easy to claim that these countries are experiencing sustained and even growing popularity of a game which has long since fallen out of favor among G20 nations not because poker customers view the game as a potential means to make a good income but because those customers just enjoy the game for its own sake. Such claims form the central point of debates which occupy megabytes of forum space on the internet, and it’s not our intention to rehash those debates. But it is our unwavering opinion that a main driving force behind poker’s popularity is and always has been the ability of a certain small subset of players to make a good, consistent living from the game.

Where $50,000 per year is life-changing money

All throughout the developing world, at least the portion that has relatively high IQ’s, the trend seems to be the same. Poker’s decline has been attenuated or even reversed whereas in first-world countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, the game’s popularity has imploded like the poker room at the Tropicana Hotel. It can plausibly be hypothesized that, in countries that still suffer from widespread poverty, the ability of an average citizen who is willing to work hard to realistically be able to make $25,000-$50,000 per year is enough to get lots of people’s attention.

This can also be seen with similar marginal economic opportunities that are enormously popular in the Far East and global South but which have waned or disappeared from the United States. One such example is Amway. As with poker, it is a favorite device of Amway’s critics to characterize it as an outright scam. But, like poker, it is an absolutely legitimate economic opportunity for those with a little skill and a ton of work ethic. But whereas an Amway IBO who works 50 hours per week might only expect to make $10,000-$15,000 per year, a genuinely skilled poker player who works the same number of hours may still be able to push high five figures.

Indonesia happens to be one of Amway’s major markets, one of the countries that have led that company’s continued growth over the last three decades. It’s easy to see, then, that for the same population, online poker could still be an attractive career choice indeed.