A brief history of online poker “the sport”
Gambling has been a popular activity for centuries, with gaming parlours and later on casinos, providing people with the ideal environment for playing. Compared to roulette, blackjack and baccarat, poker is a relatively new addition and some people consider it a sport, but the popular card game has still been around for a long time. The advent of the Internet made it possible for poker fans to enjoy their favourite game online and Internet casinos are thriving today. A quick glance at the history of online poker will help us better understand how this became the most popular card game in the world.
Online poker was born in the 90s
The very first online poker games were played in the early 90s, when people used the Internet Relay Chat as a conduit. Basic technology was used and the interface was anything but user-friendly, which had a deterring effect on many players. The standard and visible graphics improvements brought more players into the fold, even though initially, they were gambling exclusively on virtual money.
An important milestone in the history of online poker was set in 1999 when Mike Caro founded Planet Poker. The first poker hand was played at a Texas Hold’em cash game table, with $3-$6 blinds and real money games started to act as a magnet for prospective players. This caught the eye of international gambling operators and one year later, Paradise Poker was established in Costa Rica. For the first time, players were able to enjoy Omaha and Seven Card Stud in addition to Texas Hold’em.
Online poker takes off in 2000
Texas Hold’em continued to draw large crowds and quickly became the most popular type of poker played over the Internet. Ultimate Bet was founded in the year 2000 and one year later, it was joined on the big stage by Party Poker and Poker Stars. Meanwhile, Hollywood blockbusters depicting poker professionals and ambitious amateurs contributed to the surging popularity of online poker. By now, the Internet was widespread and the connections available fast enough to guarantee seamless gaming.
Millions of poker players took to the best casino sites and many chose to forsake live games altogether. Full Tilt Poker came along in 2004 and at this point players had plenty of worthy alternatives, so they could make an educated decision. The growing number of online poker rooms resulted in more and better promotions, fully fledged loyalty schemes and cashback programs. Casual players continued to dominate the online landscape, but they were joined at all levels by grinders and semi-pro gamblers.
The legal hurdles posed by the UIGEA in the United States have caused the online poker industry to slow down a decade ago. Today, US states are making slow, but steady progress in legalizing poker over the Internet and the future looks bright for American players. Meanwhile, the international audience is well served by large poker networks competing for a shrinking number of players. At the same time, many online casinos have added online poker games to their offer, with a clear preference for Texas Hold’em.
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