Online Poker is a card game played over the internet, in which players wager real money for cash prizes. It is the same as live poker except that it is played at a much faster pace, often on smaller tables with lower stakes. It is popular for recreational and professional players alike, as it is very accessible to anyone with a computer and an internet connection.
The first online poker sites launched in the early 2000s. They primarily offered Texas Hold’em games, although Omaha and 7 Card Stud were also available on some sites. In 2003, online poker really took off after a Tennessee accountant named Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event, becoming a national hero to millions of Americans. The game exploded in popularity, as live events were broadcast on ESPN and online satellite tournaments were available to anyone with an internet connection and a computer.
During the halcyon days of online poker, many players made good livings playing the game. However, in 2006 Congress passed a law known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which went after the money flow that fueled the industry by making it illegal for banks to process payments to online gambling sites. This drove a number of companies out of the market, but many players found ways around these restrictions and the game continued to grow until April 15, 2011.
One of the keys to winning online poker is understanding the basic rules of the game. It is essential to understand the ranking of starting hands and how they match up with each other on the flop, turn, and river. It is also important to know when to fold, especially in fast-fold Sit ’n Gos and fast-fold cash games.
Another critical aspect of successful online poker play is knowing how to bluff. This is not as easy to do as it is in live games, where you can see your opponent and pick up on their various nuances, but it is still an integral part of the game. Having skilled friends who can run hand histories by you and offer advice is a big help, as well.
It is also crucial to be aware of the rake, which is how much the operator or house collects on each pot. This varies from site to site, but is generally between 3 and 4.25% of each pot. This is much less than the rake in most live casinos, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
One of the best things about online poker is that you can play anytime, anywhere. Just be sure that you’re able to dedicate enough time to the game to make it worthwhile. Avoid distractions like television, streaming, and checking email — they will only detract from your game. And be prepared to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the interface, particularly how the raise buttons work and where they are located on the screen.