GamingZion reveals the beginnings of one of world’s most popular gaming business: the online poker
Poker is an old and widely played gambling cards game, but its transposition to the web sphere is pretty recent. The first web site that initiated the revolution in online poker was Planet Poker. This web page appeared in 1998, being the first real-money cardroom for playing online poker. However the technical problems with the connection characteristic for the dial-up internet did not allow the site to develop on the desired level.
• History of online poker
• PokerStars leader in the industry
• UIGEA legislation affects the industry
Very soon other operators started promoting new online poker websites. Between the pioneers in the industry were the Paradise Poker and Poker Spot websites. Paradise Poker introduced Seven Card Stud and Omaha games as addition to the Texas Hold’em poker, while Poker Spot was the first online poker site that introduced poker online tournaments in gambling in 2000. Although these were the pioneers in the online casino web sites none of them has made a significant impact on the development of the industry. They were just the initial force that gave the impetus for the appearance of what will later be called the “giants” of online poker.
The appearance of the „poker giants“
In 2001 Party Poker and PokerStars started operating on the market. They are now considered to be two of the greatest providers in the gambling industry. Until 2011, PartyPoker which is run by Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment had more than 30 million registered players, being available in 14 different languages. PokerStars on the other side had almost 50 million registered gamblers by 2012 and is still considered to be the largest cardroom in the world. Today it offers many downloadable poker versions for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. It is also available for those that prefer mobile gambling since from 2012 they introduced a downloadable mobile client for iOS from iTunes, as well as a client for Android.
An important year in the development of these giants in the online poker industry was 2002 when poker started being broadcasted on TV. This is the period when card cameras, which showed the cards of the players, were introduced: a key production innovation that attracted millions of spectators all over the world. Both PartyPoker and PokerStars started centering their marketing strategies on advertising on these TV shows, a move which contributed to a large extent for their success.
PokerStars however, took some advantage on the market with the launching of the World Championship of Online Poker and especially with the win of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) by Chris Moneymaker. The case of Moneymaker is now widely known worldwide. He qualified for the World Series of Poker in 2003 by playing first in a USD 40 tournament at PokerStars and won WSOP earning in the end more than USD 2.5 million,. This successful story of Moneymaker attracted many people all over the globe to pursue a similar dream. All this contributed immensely to the incredible growth of the popularity of online poker.
In 2004 another web page appeared that developed a great reputation between the online poker sites in the US and worldwide: Full Tilt Poker. It was launched in June 2004 by TiltWare, LLC and developed with the help of several poker professionals like Andy Bloch, Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer. Today it offers different variants of poker like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Stud as well as mixed games such as H.O.R.S.E.. The site is now own by the Amaya Gaming Group.
The effects of the UIGEA legislation
The popularity of online poker was a worldwide phenomenon but nowhere like in the United States. However due to a legislation known as the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) voted in 2006 by the American Government many online poker sites started becoming non available for American players. Then it became illegal for financial institutions to transfer payments related with online gambling from US residents, although it didn’t particularly made illegal to play online poker in the US.
However sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker continued to accept US gamers. They soon became leaders in the online poker industry and claimed an impressive reputation between players all around the world. Yet, the US government cracked down their domains in 2011. This took place on April 15th, a day that was later known in the online poker industry as “Black Friday.” Until today the situation with online poker playing in the US has not changed drastically.
The options for US gamers to play online poker are considerably smaller than the options which are opened to players from the other sides in the world, although there are still some poker sites that allow US gamblers to take participation in their poker rooms. The future, however is probably going to be better for US Citizens in this respect. Nowadays there are several states that began to allow online poker activities but under strong regulations. This trend is expected to be followed by the other States too in the following years.