What is Online Poker?

Online poker is the game of poker played on the internet. Regardless of whether you decide to play poker for fun or become a real money online poker player, you will be sitting at a poker table on your computer screen with other real players from all over the world. It’s like having a little poker hall that never closes right on your computer.

A Brief History of Online Poker

The first online poker program was brought to us by programmers from the IRC chat program in the late 1990’s. Many poker champions got their start playing here, including Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, the 2000 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event Champion. However, this was strictly a play money poker program where points were accrued, and the person with the most points won.

Planet PokerOn New Year’s Day, 1998, an online poker room called Planet Poker opened up its virtual doors to the first ever real money poker game. While the introduction of real money poker games proved popular, it was nothing like it is today. But let’s remember that in 1998 dial-up internet connections were the norm. As time passed, faster and more reliable internet access became more readily available – and so did online poker.

Following on from those first real money poker games at Planet Poker, more familiar names began to emerge on the online poker scene. In the early days, Paradise Poker and Party Poker were two of the most popular destinations for online poker players. These poker rooms provided a more professional approach to online poker, including increased marketing efforts which attracted many new players to the game of poker.

The ‘Moneymaker Effect’

MoneymakerOnline poker really hit it big when Chris Moneymaker, an accountant from Tennessee, turned his $39 satellite victory at Poker Stars into $2.5 million by winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event. From here the “Moneymaker effect,” introduced millions of players to online poker seemingly overnight, hoping to achieve the same success.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, online poker in the United States and around the world exploded in popularity with thousands of new online poker players registering to rooms like Party Poker and PokerStars every single month. The popularity of online poker also introduced many new players to the live poker scene, with many winning their seats to major events such as the WSOP, just like Chris Moneymaker.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)

US LegislationThe online poker boom took a big hit in 2006 because of U.S. legislation called the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act”. The UIGEA caused the majority of poker rooms to close business to players in the United States because this law made it illegal to transfer funds to and from a financial institution to an internet gambling site (note: it doesn’t make playing online poker illegal).

While to this day many of the legal ramifications of this act remain unclear, a number of popular poker sites immediately stopped taking action from the United States, causing what many believed to be the end of online poker. However, as the smoke cleared, a number of online poker rooms still accepted players from the United States, most notably PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker – currently the two biggest online poker rooms in the world.

Today in 2010, online poker is still a booming industry. The best online poker rooms are continually improving their software and developing new and innovative features – making online poker a more enjoyable experience for online poker players.

Online Poker vs. Live Poker

The obvious difference between playing poker on the internet and in the real world is you can’t physically see your opponents when you play online, nor feel of the cards or the chips. However, there are many advantages with online poker, which include:

  • A much greater selection of poker games.
  • No waiting around for games to begin.
  • Poker is available 24/7, from the comfort of your own home.
  • You can learn how to play poker for free.
  • Real money games for all budgets (stakes as low as $0.01/$0.02)
  • It’s cheaper – with lower rake and tournament fees than live poker.
  • There are no additional costs such as tipping dealers, travel expenses, food & drink, etc.
  • Online poker rooms offer better promotions and bonuses.
  • You can play many more hands per hour – from x 2 to x 10+ more hands per hour.
  • The ability to play poker on multiple tables at the same time.
  • Plus there’s more profit to be made with online poker.

As you can see, the benefits of online poker are huge. Which begs the question – what are you waiting for?

Getting Started with Online Poker

Whether you’re goal is to play online poker for fun, as a profitable hobby, or to become an online poker professional – there are a few more things you need to know about online poker. Thankfully, our beginners guide to online poker will teach you practically everything you need to know, in order to make online poker an enjoyable experience for you.

In the next part of this online poker guide, we’ll talk about the types of poker games you’ll find online – and we’ll examine play money poker vs. real money poker games, cash games vs. tournaments, and how you can get started playing poker on the internet. Then you can join the ranks of poker players winning money and having fun playing poker online!