Before you read the rest of the article, answer this simple question: What can’t you find on the net?

Correct. None. You can find anything in the virtual world. Anything at all! Including the most popular card game in the world: poker. Being played online, it is then called “online poker”. Players from all over the globe meet and play in virtual poker tables, connected to each other by the net.

To be able to play online poker, it is best if you try to understand this card game’s background and history first.
Poker is a type of game referring to “vying game”, in which players try to beat each other out by having the best possible card combinations in their hands.

The origin of poker has been argued for quite a long time. Linguists believe that the name “poker” is literally derived from a French word “poque”, which is then said to be derived from a German word “pochen” (= to knock).

If we look closer at the game play, poker may have been the evolvement form of “an nas”, an ancient card game played in Persia. Studies suggest that the Persian sailors in the 17th century introduced it to the French settlers in New Orleans, thus poker was born.

A lot of modifications have been introduced to the game play. And just like humanity, online poker is the most recent form of its evolution.

Being recognized as part of a giant entertainment industry scheme responsible for a dramatic increase in the number of poker players, online poker revenues had grown from $82.7 million in 2001 to $1.4 billion in 2004 to $2.4 billion in 2005.

The first free poker online was played in the late 1990s, taking the form of IRC poker. Planet Poker was the first online card room offering real money on its virtual tables. The first deal was held on January 1st, 1998.

Major online poker sites offer various features, but the most interesting may be the satellite tournaments. Winning one of these means a free entry to the real-life, prestigious poker tournament, World Series of Poker (WSOP). Through one such tournament on PokerStars Chris Moneymaker made his way into the 2003 WSOP. He went on to win the main event-a big shock for the international poker community. The next WSOP, in 2004, was won by Greg Raymer who, just like Moneymaker, won his entry at the PokerStars online card room.

In October 2004 Sportingbet (largest publicly traded online gaming company at that time) acquired, one of the first and largest online card rooms. The $340 million acquisition marked the first time an online card room went public. Since then several more online card rooms went public, including the breath-taking acquisition taken by PartyGaming (parent company of the largest online card room, Party Poker) in June 2005, whereas they offer market value in excess of $8 billion.

As of March 2008 there are less than forty “lone wolf” poker networks with detectable levels of traffic. However, one can find its way into those groups of network sites through more than 600 independent “doorways”. In January 2009 the online poker traffic occurs mostly on a few major networks, including Betjacks.

By Eamon M Garland
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