free geoip
    Boom of Internet Poker
    A Changed Game
    The Addiction
    Beating The Addiction
    Personal Reflections

A Changed Game

The internet has transformed the game of poker. To understand how far poker has come, we must look back to the origins and growth of the game. Poker was most likely derived from a 3-card game called “primero” that had pairs, 3s of a kind, and flushes as its possible hands. This game then developed into a 5-card French game called “poque” which incorporated the concepts of betting and bluffing. French colonists brought poque to America, where its name evolved into “poker.” By 1834, it had a 52 card deck and began to spread across the country. It became a classic game among frontiersmen and was prominently displayed in Western movies (“Poker,” 1994).

From the frontier, poker moved into card rooms, riverboats, and casinos. It was a game played predominantly by older men. Poker remained popular among gamblers until it hit a slump in the 1980’s. As popularity waned, casinos began downsizing their poker rooms. The late-1990’s, however, presented a significant turn-around for poker. Increased coverage of televised tournaments and the advent of online poker rooms combined to spike the interest in poker once again. Today, the internet has created an unprecedented level of poker popularity. Even those who still play poker in traditional live games usually play on the internet as well. Because of online poker, more people are playing the game than ever before.

The internet has, in turn, completely revolutionized what poker is all about. The traditional form of poker is predicated upon personal interaction. The ability to read people and interpret their actions plays a pivotal role in forming a winning strategy. How a person looks around the room, the way a person plays with his/her chips, how a person’s neck is pulsing, the way a person’s eyes get bigger when they see their cards, the words a person says, a sneeze, a smile, a nervous tick—all of these intricacies (and many more) must be analyzed in order to succeed in traditional poker. Good players are able to decide what cards their opponents are holding based upon their actions; good players are also able to control their own actions to prevent giving out any clues about the identity of their cards. But with the disembodiment of internet poker, these traditionally crucial considerations play no role at all. Rather, internet poker relies more on utilizing pure statistical strategy when it comes to deciding which hands to play and how to play them. An advanced online player can “read” opponents simply by deciding whether the hands they are playing and the bets they are making are statistically wise.

Players also tend to play more “loosely” on the internet. In traditional live games, players are somewhat kept “in line” because of the physical presence of their peers. If you play poorly in a live game, you run the risk of feeling negative effects due to the judgments of others. As a result, you feel more compelled to play good poker and meet the expectations of your peers (Slotbloom, 2006). However, the internet lacks the pressure of live games. It provides you with complete anonymity and allows you to play more wildly without having to worry about what others are thinking about you. In addition, the internet lends itself to loose play because money is more of an abstraction. Rather than actual cash or physical chips representing cash, money online is simply a number represented by an image on a screen. It's easier to fool around with this abstraction than it is to fool around with actual money (Kregier, "It's Not Real, Is It?, 2004). Every bet is just a mouse-click away. If you loose your money, you can have more transferred within seconds while remaining in the comfort of your chair. Also, internet poker is looser than traditional poker because of the inexperience of those playing. Since finding an affordable game to play in is easier than ever before, millions of new players are playing online without any prior poker experience. These inexperienced players make many poor and loose plays that are inconsistent with statistically sound plays. Bad players are either unaware of the statistics or simply do not care about them.

The new brand of internet poker allows for more games to be played at a faster rate. In traditional poker, you are only able to play at one table at a time. With conversations, shuffling, and other human delays, the game goes at slow pace. But with online poker, players can play at multiple tables at once. Shuffling and dealing are conducted instantaneously and conversations are practically non-existent (except for the occasional statements that people make in site-sponsored instant messaging boxes). Because so many more hands are being played per hour, players are susceptible to winning or losing higher amounts of money than they would in traditional games.

Finally, the internet has created a new demographic for poker players. While the poker breed used to consist of an older stock, young players (in their teens and twenties) who make up the computer generation have become a prominent force in internet poker. The internet has now allowed many “young guns” to stand beside the “old guns” as the best poker players in the world (since savvy, young internet players often expand their play into traditional live games). Women have also made their way into the poker scene thanks to the internet. It is predicted that 20% of online players are women, and there are even websites (such as that cater specifically to women in order to help meet the new demand (Tweedale, 2005).

Online poker, with its different strategy, playing style, and face, has become a wholly different game than the one played with physical cards. But what are the implications of this new game?

  Privacy | Copyright 2006 Reason Media Group. All rights reserved | Site By: RMG