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The Boom of Internet Poker

On January 1, 1998, Randy Blumer launched, the first poker website that used real money (Cooke, “More About Online Poker,” 2004). The website ultimately failed, but internet poker succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Online poker is currently a multi-billion dollar industry with over 300 different sites, the most prominent being,,, and Nearly 2 million people (70%-80% of whom are residents of the United States) log onto a poker gambling site every day (Stutz, 20005). About $75 million is wagered in internet poker rooms every hour. The largest site,, operates at a financial level comparable to the most prosperous casino chains in Las Vegas. It is predicted that on a given night, there are more tables in action on than all the tables in Nevada and California combined. It is also predicted that there have been more hands of poker played since the advent of internet poker than hands played in the entire previous history of poker (Cooke, “Frequently Asked Questions,” 2005).

So how did internet poker get so big? Since its humble beginnings, many factors have contributed to the success of poker on the web. The vast number of people who began playing poker online heightened the popularity of televised poker tournaments (such as The World Series of Poker and The World Poker Tour) and increased the sale of poker strategy books. The increased popularity of televised poker and poker publications created a positive feed-back loop that made internet poker even more popular (Cooke, “More About Online Poker,” 2004). Perhaps the biggest spike in online poker occurred after Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer (both amateur online poker players) won back-to-back championships in the 2003 and 2004 World Series of Poker. Recent publications have also made poker easier to learn than ever before. Online players are motivated by the stories they hear about average players (oftentimes their friends, family members, or co-workers) striking it big on the internet. Online poker has become a game for the masses where anyone can either get lucky or become skilled enough to consistently win. More and more people are discovering how exhilarating the online game can be and are incorporating it into their daily lives.

Since people can play more hands online than they can in brick-and-mortar cardrooms (and even play at multiple tables simultaneously), the internet has taken poker excitement to a higher level. Without overhead costs and with a pool of millions of customers, poker websites offer a wide variety of games that casinos often cannot. And without having to worry about things like dealer salaries and a limited number of physical tables, poker websites offer a plethora of betting limits (ranging from pennies to thousands of dollars) that appeal to all customers (Kregier, “How Online Poker,” 2003). Perhaps most importantly, people do not have to travel to brick-and-mortar cardrooms during certain hours of the day in order to play poker anymore. Internet poker is available 24 hours a day wherever an internet connection can be found. Its convenience and excitement have gotten millions to jump on the internet bandwagon.

It seems that the boom of online poker would have major implications for the game of poker itself. So how, exactly, has poker changed as a result of the internet?

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