Poker History - History of Online Poker

The history of online poker reflects the popularity of this once only land-based game. Slow beginnings turned into an explosion after poker was televised.

Online Poker Beginnings

When comparing the history of land-based poker and the history of online poker, obviously online poker is still very young, since the Internet is still relatively young. Although the first online casinos were launched in the middle of the 1990s, online poker rooms only began in the late 1990s with the establishment of the first online poker room in 1988.

It was possible to play online poker two or three years before the first poker rooms were established, however, at that time, poker was only played online by computer geeks, with low quality graphics. These early online poker games were played in IRC (Internet Chat Relay) rooms, which carried a text-only format.

The First Online Poker Room - Planet Poker

When the first online poker room began in 1998, it did not attract many players, and it took nearly six months before a reasonable number of poker enthusiasts found their way to Plant Poker's virtual poker card tables. Slowly, other poker rooms opened, and more players began to sign up.

TV Gave Online Poker a Boost

While online poker was being played by a number of poker lovers, the online poker mania had not yet arrived. In 2001, when the first time that poker games were televised, poker began again to rise in popularity. Events such as the World Series of Poker were instrumental in adding to the appeal of playing online poker. One of the most exciting developments for the lay poker player was that they could now see the hands of all the players in the game with the introduction of the "hole camera," and since it was on television, nobody's game was compromised.

The new popularity of the game caused a great many new online poker rooms to open their virtual doors. The better poker sites prospered and endured, while the sites that were somewhat shoddier simply disappeared as time went by.

Online Poker Greatly Affected by the UIGEA

While online poker had reached an extremely high level of popularity, 2006 came along and put a serious spanner in its virtual works, at least for United States citizens. Republican congressmen had been trying to put a halt to online gambling for some time as they wished to appease the religious Christian factions, but had been unable to do so as there was much opposition to taking such a move. However, while there were other issues that needed attention, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed by congress as it was tacked onto a port security bill. At the time, no-one was prepared to challenge a bill that was mostly concerned with anti-terrorism.

The UIGEA became law, which meant that banking institutions in the US were forbidden to receive or pay out any funds that were connected with Internet gambling sites. Many of the poker sites had become publicly listed on the stock exchanges of other countries, and in order to protect their shareholders' interests, they had to stop US players from playing in their poker rooms.

Although poker is arguably a game of skill, and should not fall into the same category of gambling as other online casino games, it has been treated in the same way as online casinos have been treated under the UIGEA. There are many efforts at this time to overturn the UIGEA, however, there is still a long road that still needs to be followed before this is likely to occur.