Online poker is a form of poker played over the internet. Players create an account and download a poker software package. They then sit at a poker table and play against other players in a virtual game. The software displays the odds of the hand and scans for errors. It also keeps track of previous hand histories for known players. Using an online poker site allows players to enjoy the experience from home, with the added convenience of being able to play at multiple tables at once.
The first real money poker game was played in January 1998. Several sites have since launched. These sites vary by state and offer different formats of poker, including no-limit and limit hold’em, PLO, and mixed games. Some sites only accept US dollars, while others can be paid in other currencies. All major sites are regulated by the Professional Gambling Control Board and subject to strict regulations.
As of 2011, the Internet poker market is a rocky one. Major poker sites like Full Tilt and Party Poker pulled out of the US, while a number of other sites remained. A couple of years later, the Department of Justice seized the domain names of the two biggest poker websites. After a judge ruled that the games were not illegal, many of the sites found new ways to operate. However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 made it illegal for banks in the United States to process payments for illegal gambling websites. This meant that the banks could not deal with any of the companies. In response, a number of companies found ways to convert funds in other currencies.
However, this only affected the poker sites that were publicly traded, and a number of smaller and less publicly known companies were able to stay in the United States. Most of these sites were able to find creative ways to overcome the banking issues and continue to offer services to US players.
The UIGEA was not an explicit poker-banning law, but it certainly posed a serious threat to the US online poker industry. The legislation was signed into law in September 2006. While the legislation did not explicitly ban poker, the Department of Justice argued that it was illegal for US banks to process payments for websites that offer poker. Since the UIGEA was passed, it is illegal for any bank to handle payments related to offshore online poker sites.
Several states are now enacting laws that allow for legal online poker. New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have all enacted laws that allow poker players to legally play online. Also, several other states are preparing to make online poker legalized.
Online poker is a relatively easy game to learn. It requires a certain amount of skill and luck. But you don’t have to be a master to enjoy the experience. Many sites have free poker apps available for download. You can also play for free at online casinos and card rooms.