In the United States, you could almost describe the poker market as a phoenix from the flames. Since its inception in the late 90s, online poker sites have encouraged a torrent of new players embracing the game and their revenues have reflected this success.
Online poker began in 1998 with the first hand dealt on January 1st. It was hosted at Planet Poker, which used an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client to allow players to play online for real cash. It wasn’t long before advances in technology led to a torrent of new businesses investing in online poker ventures, and the amount of worldwide users grew dramatically.
The business flourished in the early part of the 21st century and between 2001 and 2005, Christian Capital Advisors stated that online poker revenues grew from $82.7 million (£51.6 million) to $2.4 billion (£1.5 billion). The rising number of online players encouraged a growth in those playing offline also as more people became introduced to the game.
It has been questioned why an online version of the game has been able to popularise poker on such a vast scale. Many may note that the high stakes and professional players found at casinos have put off potential customers and the anonymity found online can help encourage those who have not dared to compete at tournament level.
Have you wanted to gamble, but stopped yourself because of safety concerns? Now you can play your favorite casino games for free without any fear about safety at an online casino. An online casino provides a completely secure environment to its players. So log into one and play as much as you want. Furthermore, the small number of casinos that offer a wide range of poker tables may have also affected popularity before the online birth of the game. In comparison to slot machines or other casino games, poker is not particularly profitable. Casinos make the most money relying on high rollers and most had previously only tailored the game towards them.
However, online versions of the game are not held back by the overhead costs of running such an organisation. Unlike poker held in a venue, the number of players is not a problem and online sites rely on profit from a vast number of players. This allows online poker companies to offer games with exceptionally low buy-ins and in turn encourages players to keep playing.
Many purists have discouraged online play though as it does subtract from one of the most important parts of the game; without the ability to see the body language of opponents, it becomes much harder to read what they may have. This problem is seen as being exacerbated by those who play erratically online.
However, in 2003, the biggest disproof of this theory came in the shape of Chris Moneymaker, who won the annual World Series of Poker having gained his qualification online. The win stunned the poker world and proved that within the increasing number of online players there had grown real contenders for the best in the world. Moneymaker had begun with just $40 (£25) and walked away from the tournament with $2.5 million (£1.56 million).
In the past few years, the number of those playing online poker has fallen worldwide, with the recession blamed for the most part. However, in early 2011, Poker News Boy reported that the UK market experienced an upturn in profits and new users, with the majority of this attributed to mobile applications.