Online poker is thriving, that’s official. But why is the game, which has been around since 1829, enjoying such a purple patch.
In fairness that question is a bit misleading as online poker only began in 2001 but it did reinvent the genre and all forms of card playing had been in decline for decades beforehand.
In the UK it was the Channel 4 series ‘Late Night Poker’ which brought the game to the public’s attention. Its first series aired in the summer of 1999 and with its ground-breaking under-table cameras it was an instant hit.
The PokerGO Studio, located at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, is the modern day equivalent. Of course webcasting has replaced television but the action is live and not pre-recorded.
Poker’s Big Bang
In the U.S. where poker is often described as ‘America’s number one pastime’ the catalyst for poker’s explosion was Chris Moneymaker winning the main event of the World Series (WSOP).
His surname was an instant hit with anyone who loved a story and in the aftermath of his $2.5 million win he was booked to appear on a number of the U.S. leading chat shows. Explaining how he parlayed a $40 online satellite entry into a $10,000 main event entry and then into millions captivated a country and the online poker boom was well underway.
There’s been a lot of water under the online poker bridge since, including the FBI’s closure of some sites which were operating illegally in America or were simply a Ponzi scheme. Thankfully those dark days are long behind us and the vast majority of online poker sites are fully licensed and strictly regulated.
Safe, Secure and Rigid
Naturally customers and online poker operators have learned from the mistakes of the past and it would appear both have more faith in the safety of funds and the rigidness of their software than ever before.
But it’s the integrity of the games which has seen more and more people place their faith, time and effort into online poker. One operator undertook a relentless publicity drive during 2019 which highlighted previous failings and vowed to make change. The area in question, a true blackspot, was ‘bot accounts’.
What is a Poker Bot?
A poker bot is a software program (a robot) written to play against other players. The bots make use algorithms and mathematical formulas to play against human players.
In addition in a drive to identify and weed-out the accounts using this high-tech software they made a promise to further “safeguard its players” by employing “a specialist Poker Fraud Team comprising a collection of former poker professionals whose duty is to investigate suspicious activity and aid in ridding the site of unscrupulous accounts.”
Naturally collusion – two or more players sharing details of their hands – is more difficult to identify but to that end the doors have been thrown open by many sites meaning any player can now contact the poker site they are playing to report any suspicions of incongruous betting patterns amongst players.
So doubtlessly the integrity and safety of online poker is better than ever before. It will never be infallible but once upon a time players really did keep aces up their sleeve and were shot in seedy saloons when four-of-a-kind was beaten by a straight-flush!