Online poker is the game of cards played over the Internet. It has been partly liable for a huge increase in the number of its players worldwide. Christiansen Capital Advisors stated online poker revenues grew from $82.7 million in 2001 to $2.4 billion in 2005 while a survey carried out by Global Betting and Gaming Consultants asserted online poker revenues in 2004 were at $1.4 billion. Outmoded venues for playing poker, such as casinos may be intimidating for novice players and are often located in geographically disparate locations. Also, brick and mortar casinos are reluctant to promote it because it’s difficult for them to profit from it. Though the rake, or time charge, of old casino is often high, the opportunity costs of running a poker room are even higher. Brick and mortar casinos often make much more money by removing such rooms and adding more slot machines.
Online poker spots, by contrast, are dramatically cheaper because they have lower overhead costs. For example, adding another table does not take up valuable space like it would for a brick and mortar casino. Online poker rooms also allow the players to play for low stakes and often offer free tournaments attracting beginners and/or less wealthy clientele. Online poker is legal and regulated in many countries including several nations in and around the Caribbean Sea, and most notably the United Kingdom. From a legal perspective, it may differ in some ways from online casino gambling. However, many of the same issues do apply.
Online poker settings may be more vulnerable to certain types of swindle, especially collusion between players. However, they have collusion detection abilities that do not exist in brick and mortar casinos. For example, online poker room security employees can look at the hand history of the cards previously played by any player on the site, making patterns of behavior easier to detect than in a casino where colluding players can simply fold their hands without anyone ever knowing the strength of their holding. Online poker rooms also check players’ IP addresses in order to prevent players at the same household or at known open proxy servers from playing on the same tables.
Free online poker was played as early as the late 1990s. Planet Poker was the first online card room to offer real money games. The first real money poker game was dealt on January 1, 1998. The major online poker sites offer varying features to entice new players. One common feature is to offer tournaments called satellites by which the winners gain entry to real-life tournaments. Of all the online poker rooms PokerStars.com is deemed the world’s largest site by number of players on site at any one time.
In the US, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill in February 2005 to legalize and regulate online poker and online poker card room operators in the state. The legislation required that online poker operations would have to physically locate their entire operations in the state.