How Did Online Poker Get Started?

Today, it seems like everyone knows about online poker. Certainly, anyone who plays poker today is aware that online poker is an option, and many of today’s players get their poker to fix almost exclusively in online video poker games. But how did online poker get started?

The Early Years and IRC

The roots of online poker can be traced to the early ‘90s, when the Internet was barely known about, let alone understood, by the average person. Computer experts were using something called Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, an early version of sg casino 96Ace online instant messaging. It wasn’t long before someone figured out how to use the technology to play poker. IRC poker didn’t have fancy graphics and wasn’t played for real money, but it was engaging enough to catch the interest of future poker greats like Chris Ferguson and Andy Bloch.

Online Poker is Born

Then, in 1998 and 1999, real online poker sites started to appear. Planet Poker was first, and sites like Paradise Poker and Party Poker quickly followed. The technology finally had arrived to create realistic, commercially viable poker software, and online companies did not hesitate, flooding the market with online poker sites. Fortunately for the better sites, there was plenty of traffic for them to take advantage of, and while many of these sites floundered, others amassed huge profits.

Online Poker Peaks

The tipping point came when Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker main event in 2003. Chris, an amateur, had won his seat online, and hundreds of thousands of people knew it, thanks to expanded coverage of the event on ESPN. Players went to online sites in droves, not only Moneymaker’s site, PokerStars, but other sites as well. World Series of Poker fields swelled to record numbers.

The Fall and Rise of Online Poker

In 2006, it looked as if the party might be over. An exiting Republican Congress, responding perhaps to religious lobbyists who objected to poker on moral grounds, slipped the UIGEA into a crucial port security bill. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act made it illegal for U.S. banks to transact with online poker sites. Fearing prosecution, many online poker sites along with online casinos dropped out of the U.S. market, and many players gave up online poker.

Fortunately, some sites stayed with the U.S. market and profited greatly from having done so. International players rose to fill the void left by the exiting U.S. players, and today, online poker is a more popular global game than ever.

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