Online Poker Raises the Stakes

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Online poker has changed the game beyond recognition

Photo by Santeri Viinamäki CC BY-SA 4.0 


Think of the game poker, and you probably picture the Hollywood image of a smoke-filled room with a bunch of people sitting around a green baize table under a low hanging light. The snarling bad guy with an ace up his sleeve, the suave hero with the girl on his arm who manages to win anyway, the sweating novice way out of his depth. Yet these days, this scenario couldn’t be further from the truth.

With the rise of online poker, all kinds of people from all walks of life are playing the game. They can play what they like, when they like and wherever they like, without having to put up with any of the corny clichés or intimidating atmospheres often associated with the game. But where did it all start and just how big a deal is online poker these days?


Moneymaker makes the world go around


While the first online poker site, Planet Poker, started in 1998, most people trace the popularity of the game to a few years after this in 2003 when accountant, Chris Moneymaker, showed that literally anyone could win and win big. Entering a $86 tournament as a rank amateur, Moneymaker went on to win against all the odds, collecting a life-changing pot of $2.5million and inspiring a generation. Soon everyone was playing online in the hope of emulating this historic milestone, and the online poker boom as we know it was born.

The Moneymaker effect changed the game of poker forever

Photo by flipchip CC BY-SA 3.0

The modern poker market

Today, just sixteen years later, there are over 600 active poker sites around the world, with over 100,000 people playing on the major poker sites at any one time, according to industry experts, Poker Scout. As you would expect, the United States has the largest number of online poker players. However, by population, it seems that Hungarians are the most poker hungry, with one in fifty internet users in the country playing the game.

Juniper Research says that the worldwide online gaming market, which includes poker and other online casino games, is worth around $550bn. This may already sound impressive, but that figure is set to double in the next few years, taking revenues over the $1trn mark. To put that in context, it means that online gaming will take as much money as all other online spendings by 2021.

Nowhere is the huge growth of online poker more obvious than at the biggest poker site of them all, PokerStars. Launched in September 2001, the platform has 50million registered users and is about to celebrate its 200 billionth hand. That’s over 30million hands a day, every day for almost two decades!


The future of online poker


With so many pokers sites competing for so many players, as well as a share of over $50bn in profits every year, the poker market is extremely competitive, which is great news for players. Competition not only means better bonuses on offer to tempt you to try new sites, it also means that existing poker sites are having to work harder, and offer players more, in order to keep their existing customers and attract new ones. This has led to a number of interesting innovations in the online poker market.

Some sites are now offering new ways to make your initial deposit, including PayPal which keeps your personal financial details private and keeps your deposit off your bank statement. Others will even allow you to place your bets using cryptocurrency such as BitCoin. In other poker rooms, you’ll find innovative variations on the game itself, adding to the excitement and helping you to develop your skills. You can find live dealers to add authenticity to the hand, or even dive in completely with VR poker games that put you in the heart of the action from the comfort of your own home.

There is no denying that poker has come a long way from its Hollywood image, and is almost unrecognizable from the Friday night game you play with your buddies. As to where it will go in the future, no one really knows. However, one thing is certain; with poker growing all the time, the game will never stand still, which can only be good news, whether you are a budding professional or a casual card player passing the time on your way to work.

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