For those of us whose significant others frown upon a weekly poker night with the boys or with the girls, online poker is the answer. You no longer need to hide in your basement with bowls of stale Fritos and a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon to enjoy a game of poker. Rather, the internet has brought the game right to your computer. This is a more recent phenomenon, however, as online poker rooms have only arisen in the past ten or twelve years; just a child compared to the 200-year history of “old-fashioned,” face-to-poker face poker.
Online poker was preceded by other forms of online gambling such as sports-orienting betting in the early 1990’s and online casinos in the mid 1990’s. Planet Poker, a now smaller operation, established the first online poker room in 1998 and a year later, Paradise Poker emerged. Their use of effective advertising, innovative software, and international appeal led them to the forefront of online poker where they still enjoy the status as one of the industry leaders. In 2000, Poker Spot emerged as the first online poker site to offer tournament play. However, this site suffered from technical difficulties that resulted in its unfortunate demise.
Through the early years of the 21st Century, Paradise Poker remained the top firm in the biz until 2003 when poker hit mainstream television. The World Poker Tour premiered on the Travel Channel and captured the highest ratings in the network’s history. This not only led to a dramatic rise in poker’s popularity, but it also resulted in the emergence of another online poker giant. A company called Party Poker launched a well-devised advertising campaign that aired ceme online during the World Poker Tour. This brilliant marketing led them to the forefront of the industry where they currently hold almost half of the entire online poker community.
Following this rating booms experienced by the Travel Channel, other networks such as ESPN began airing live poker as part of their regular programming. Shows such as Celebrity Poker are still immensely popular. These shows not only led to the increased visibility and popularity of poker, but they resulted in a boom in online gaming. Many viewers felt inspired by the fact that entrants were qualifying for big tournaments through online play. Online poker received some big press in both 2003 and 2004 when the winners of the World Series of Poker were Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, both online players through Poker Stars. This free advertising was quite effective, and 6,000 entrants for the World Series of Poker qualified through online play in 2005.