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Poker, the legendary card game that has been around for more than 100 years can now be played online, as virtual poker. This simply means that the venue for poker enthusiasts or poker beginners is no longer poker rooms or casinos of Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Internet is the new and happening venue for poker.
Online poker, to be played without money, has been available for almost 20 years. But the ‘real’ thing started about 11 years ago when online poker could be played with real money, also making it the first online real-money card game. Online poker or poker in general has never looked back since. There are now almost 550 websites offering to play poker online.
Legislation in USA has been confusing about legality of playing poker for several years, but it is still the most popular country in the world for online poker players. Closely followed by the United Kingdom, which is one of several countries where Poker is legal and so, very popular already. Most online poker websites still accept payments exclusively in US dollars while some do take other currencies besides the USD. For USA based residents, these websites process payments through non-USA based third-party servers, instead of just turning them away, which they typically should be doing per law.
There are several types of poker that can be played online, including the traditional ones as well as some exotic new variations of it. The most popular online poker game is the Texas Hold’em Poker in two sub-variants. Limit Texas Hold’em Poker is especially recommended for beginners, with pre-determined or limited amounts that can be bet. The other one, called No-Limit Texas Hold’em Poker is more preferred by advanced players of the game, who can risk limitless stakes. The second most popular online poker is Omaha Poker, which is minutely different from Texas Hold’em, and also has two variants – Omaha Hi, and Omaha Hi-Lo. Another popular version of online poker is the Seven Card Stud Poker, and has three variants – Seven Card Stud Hi, Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, and Razz.
Although there is the basic advertisement revenue for the profitability of poker sites, they also have games that need to be paid for in certain ways. Most of the poker sites make money through raked games, with each having its unique rake structure. They also have charges in the form of entry-fees for certain poker tournaments. A third source of their profits comes from games played against ‘the house’ in which the odds are in the house’s favor.
A major difference in playing poker online as compared to live poker (traditional table poker), is that players are not actually facing each other, which, for table poker players could mean loss of vital cues that can be drawn from the opponent’s body language and expressions. It is also seen that for this reason, or perhaps for the reason that the game can be on 24/7, players play poker online more aggressively. The other very obvious differing factors are the cost involved (online poker is considerably cheaper) and the age range of most players (online players tend to be much younger than table players).
Generating revenue of $5.9B in 2008, online poker is a huge multi-billion dollar industry and a very alluring gambling option online. However, beginners are urged to understand the rules, guidelines and strategies of playing the game before trying a hand at it. Several potential customers can be tempted by websites offering free poker games and tournaments, but reading the ‘fine print’ is highly recommended. So, if you have not tried it yet, it is perhaps time to play poker online and participate in the fashion, and make a contribution to the $6.7B in revenue it is anticipated to generate this year. Come play a hand or two at the fastest growing card room in the USA.

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