The internet has changed the way we live. Communications are far easier, and it’s incredible how quickly our day changes for the worse when the internet goes down. The accessibility of the internet has also changed the way we play games, especially poker.
Card games have always been popular, whether it be playing for fun or taking part in tournaments. Recent decades have seen a dramatic rise in the popularity of the poker. Late-night television programmes started appearing, with special table cameras revealing the players’ cards, and interest began to grow even more.
It was in the late 1990s that online poker appeared. There were initially games that could be played for free, but that changed in 1998. The year got off to a great start for poker fans with the first real money poker game taking place on New Year’s Day at a site called Planet Poker.
Playing poker online is a different experience from the usual person v person competitions. All those years practising your poker face aren’t needed when playing online. You can have two aces and the widest smile of all time on your face – but it doesn’t matter because your opponents can’t see you.
There are different forms of the game online, too. As the popularity of Texas Hold’em soared, so too did poker game variants at casinos. Technology has advanced so that now we can play casino poker games using live streaming services. This gives you the opportunity to play your favourite casino poker games with live dealers, sitting at a real table using proper cards. Online poker players now fancy their chances playing Caribbean Stud, Three Card Poker, Video Poker, and Heads-Up Hold’em in casinos.
In the early noughties, more online poker sites began to be launched. The most famous and successful has been PokerStars, which launched in September 2001. 24/7 online poker, and there was also a link with real-life tournaments. Satellite tournaments were held online with the chance to gain entry into events such as the World Series of Poker. Chris Moneymaker (you have to love that surname) did just that. He won a satellite on PokerStars for less than $100 and went on to win the World Series for $2.5 million!
2004 saw the launch of Full Tilt Poker. Its name sounds like something from a pinball game, but this was another hugely successful online poker site, offering everything from real money games to freerolls, satellite events, sit-n-go and multi-table tournaments.
Also, in 2004, ParadisePoker.com was purchased by Sportingbet for $340 million. The following year, PartyGaming, which was the parent company of PartyPoker, went public on the London Stock Exchange at a value of over $8 billion. At that point, 92 per cent of its business was poker related. Poker wasn’t just a game anymore; it was making people very rich and not just from playing it.
The popularity of online poker continued to grow. More and more games were being offered online by a growing number of sites. Playing online became an extension of the game for those who were used to playing with others around a table. They loved the online versions, and they saved money on sunglasses and visors.
Online poker sites were still booming when the United States government decided to shut them all down under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Most, including PartyPoker, folded operations in the US in 2006, but others, including Full Tilt and PokerStars, kept going in the belief that poker was a game of skill, and therefore exempt from the act.
Lawmakers had other ideas, and on what became known as Black Friday in April 2011, PokerStars and Full Tilt had their website domains seized by the FBI and shut down. Online poker became out of reach for the vast majority of Americans, with the global player pool reducing significantly as a result.
Now, of course, states in the US are slowly opening up for poker again, and you can play online in a number of them, including New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
The ongoing pandemic has seen online poker become even more popular globally. Brick-and-mortar casinos were temporarily closed, so players headed online to play poker instead. Some sites saw their business double as a result. Lots of players, like Andrew Neeme, excel at poker in live play and online.
It’s common now for sites that began with just a sportsbook to branch off into casinos and poker. Some have dedicated poker sites as they realize just how popular the game has become. The future looks bright for online poker, with sites offering higher cash prizes and new versions of the game.
And if you don’t fancy peer-to-peer Texas Hold’em, you can always put your skills to use with various casino poker games.
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