How the Internet Reinvented Poker and What it Means for Poker Enthusiasts Playing Online and Offline Today
Poker has been a popular card game for centuries, with some historians tracing it all the way back to the 16th Persian card game called As Nas and others linking it to traditional French and Spanish games. By the end of the 19th century, it had become popular in the US and would later spread across to Europe.
Naturally, for the majority of this time, people were only ever able to play against one other on a face to face basis. This meant that unique rules were followed in different places and that it could often be difficult for a diverse group of players to find a mutually understood set of rules to use.
In recent times, this has all changed as the internet has given us the chance to play online against anyone and at any time of day or night. We can now play a quick hand of poker whether we are at home, in a hotel, or even sailing the seven seas in style.
This has opened up interesting new possibilities for anyone who wants to play some games but doesn’t have other players nearby. In what other ways has the internet helped to reinvent poker?
The Basics: When Did Poker Move Online?
When did this shift happen? At what point did the option of playing on the internet first become an option for poker players? The truth is that online poker has been around for a good deal longer than many people think.
In fact, the very first site offering free poker games went live as the 20th century was drawing to a close. By 1998, real money games also went online, with the first real money game dealt on the very first day of that year. This was around the time that other casino games such as roulette and blackjack also went online.
Since then, this way of playing has grown impressively in popularity with each passing year. This is shown in both the number of online poker sites around and the extensive variety of games to be found on them.
It is now possible to play poker variants such as Texas Hold ‘Em, Seven Card Stud, Pai Gow Poker, and Omaha online, together with many other games with unique rules. This means that players can now sample a huge variety of different ways of playing without leaving home.
Exactly how popular has online playing become since its introduction? It is clear that it has attracted large numbers of players from all around the world but getting exact numbers is something that is extremely difficult to do.
Research from back in 2007 suggested that 2.6% of all adults play online poker in real money games. In the US, this figure rises to 3.8% and, in Canada, it is given as 3.2%. It is worth noting that, at the time, over 10% of the US adult population played poker either online or in some other way.
A few years before this, the New York Times reported that two million people play the game online every month. Clearly, all of these figures that we have looked at are a few years old and also appear to be based on fairly limited samples. Therefore, it is difficult to draw solid conclusions from them.
The truth is that we probably need to rely on anecdotal evidence to work out how this industry has grown in recent years. It is easy to see how new poker sites have sprung up, while poker forums and blogs have grown in popularity at the same time.
There is no sign of this increase in popularity slowing down. Indeed, it appears to be getting faster, as more new players are attracted to giving the game a try and then encourage their friends to play online as well.
Learning to play poker is not as daunting as it may appear…
What Is ‘Fast-Fold’ Poker and Why Is It So Popular Online?
It is no surprise to see that new ways of playing poker have evolved since it made its first appearance on the internet at the end of the 20th century. Indeed, the game has probably undergone more changes since going online than in any other period of its history.
Some of these changes have been designed to make it easier for newcomers to get to grips with playing poker. Others have introduced new rules that make the game slicker and faster for players.
Among these changes is the introduction of a variant known as fast-fold poker. This is a fast-moving game that reduces the player’s waiting time by dealing new cards as soon as they fold. When you fold, you are swiftly moved to a new table with new players.
A good example is the SNAP poker game from 888 Poker. It can be played as a Sit & Go cash game or in tournament play. This fast version of poker lets you see the original gameplay out while taking part in a new hand on another table after you fold your hand.
Other Ways Online Poker Has Brought Innovation to the Game
The arrival of online poker has led to other innovations in this classic card game. These changes that have been introduced have played their part in bringing new players to the game.
One big change has been the idea of qualifying for live tournaments online. Qualifiers are now held online for major events around the world. This gives players an easier route into top-class tournaments, using purely their skills rather than their financial clout.
Rather than having to pay up to $50,000 in buy-in costs for a WSOP event, it is possible to win a spot at the table for free. The same applies to European Poker Tour events, which can cost over €5,000 to take part in.
One example of how this can work came in the 2017 WSOP Europe main event. Spaniard Marti Roca de Torres won the main prize of over a million Euros at the first attempt. The former economics teacher worked his way through the qualifiers before winning the top prize.
This approach also gives online players the chance to test their skills in a live tournament setting. In this way, people can hone their skills in two completely different methods of playing the same card game, rather being restricted to just one approach.
Of course, it also works the other way round too. Players who are used to playing at home or in land casinos can go online whenever they want to play in a quicker and more convenient way. It is also worth noting that players now have easy access to far more resources than ever before. Anyone with an internet connection can read about poker strategies and watch videos put together by experts.
This has helped to narrow the skills gap that previously existed among players. Now, even someone who is playing the game for the first game can go into it feeling confident about their skills and knowledge if they have done some research beforehand.
Interesting new variants of poker have been introduced since it became a popular online activity too. Among them, open-face Chinese poker and Irish poker are the new ways of playing that seem to have first appeared online. It is easier for the best new games to catch on when players from all over the planet can give them a try.
Overall, the fact that poker is now so easily found on the internet has increased its popularity and added more variety to the ways that it can be played. Yet, it hasn’t detracted from the classic appeal that has seen it so widely-played for so long.