Poker has been an extremely popular game since it was invented in the 19th century. For years, it was more of a recreational endeavor than anything else. Games would be played among small groups of friends or at casual games in bars. Although it wasn’t exactly legal at the time it was played on Mississippi riverboats extensively all the way up to the early 20th century. The game enjoyed its first surge in popularity during the 1970’s as poker was introduced to Nevada casinos. Tournament play became popular and the World Series of Poker began in 1970. The early WSOP events produced winners that comprised a ‘who’s who’ of poker—Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson, Johnny Moss, former MGM Mirage CEO Bobby Baldwin and Stu Ungar. In the late 1980’s, poker rooms in California legalized flop games including Texas Hold’em and stud. Around the same time the booming native American owned casinos began with many of these properties offering poker.
The game was likely more popular than ever due to the above events but poker absolutely blew up in the early 2000s. This was due to a confluence of factors—the widespread adoption of the Internet and the digital revolution introduced online poker to the masses. The shrewd marketing of tournament poker played a part with the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour drawing huge audiences. The tournaments themselves saw their fields grow dramatically which resulted in prizes in the millions of dollars. When Chris Moneymaker (2003) and Greg Raymer (2004) won the main event at the WSOP after gaining entry via online play it created millions of players who aspired to do the same thing.
HOW TO GET STARTED PLAYING ONLINE
The explosive growth of poker in the Internet era isn’t the least bit surprising. While it has definitely benefited land based casinos and boosted the fields at major tournaments the reality is that most people prefer to play online. Some of the reasons for this should be readily apparent—like other forms of online gambling this is the most convenient way to play poker. Players can enjoy the game from virtually any location in the world. Most poker sites offer mobile apps and functionality so there’s really no limit to your mobility.
Online play is great for novice players. It’s less intimidating than a land based poker room and much easier to find a low limit table full of other neophyte players. More experienced players have the opportunity for ‘multitasking’ by playing in multiple games or even at multiple poker sites at the same time. A player can play in a tournament in one window while playing in several cash games in other windows. This is great for successful poker players since they can participate in significantly more hands per hour which makes the game much more profitable.
Most sites offer ‘freeroll’ tournaments which are an excellent opportunity for beginning players to get the feel of competitive play. In addition, it allows players to ‘test drive’ a variety of poker sites before they start playing for real money stakes. Poker sites frequently offer deposit bonuses which gives new players an opportunity to pocket more ‘free money’ just for posting up. There’s also plenty of frequent player points programs similar to land based casino ‘comps’. Once enough points are accrued they can can be converted to cash or used for free tournament entries.
It’s important to check out a variety of poker sites for the simple reason that no two are alike. Different sites attract players of different skill levels. In addition, player traffic can vary from site to site. On balance, you want a site that is busy enough that you can always find a game but not so busy that you have to wait. The only way to figure out which site(s) are best for you is to get the feel of them by testing them out.