How online poker surpassed its table counterpart

Poker players have been shown to spend more time gambling, gamble more frequently, and have higher scores on problem gambling indices.

poker played on casino table for james bond movie

By Charles Perrin Poker is steeped in history and it is a completely different proposition from the game that dominated smoke-filled saloons in 19th-century America. Yes, the advent of the internet heralded a new side of poker, and it has now made playing more convenient for gamblers.

But how did online poker overtake the game offered at traditional brick-and-mortar locations? This guide will provide a broad overview of the rise of online poker, discuss the key turning points behind this phenomenon and make some assertions about where it is heading.

The early years

In the 1990s, the internet was a new-fangled concept. It wasn’t until the end of the decade that the power of online poker was realized. Prototypes of online card games were being produced, and the software, which was basic at this point, allowed players to participate in simulated versions of traditional card games.

In 1998, Planet Poker became a pioneer in bringing online poker to the forefront of the gaming scene. The first virtual poker hand was dealt, and this paved the way for other popular sites, such as PartyPoker and PokerStars, to follow in its footsteps.

Making of the Moneymaker

By the turn of the 21st Century, online poker gathered momentum. To call poker merely a game played at physical casinos would have been a bit of a misnomer. The rise to prominence of Chris Moneymaker certainly played a key role in raising the profile of online poker.

Moneymaker, who was a little-known player at the time, qualified for a WSOP Main Event in 2003 for less than $100 on PokerStars, and he saw his profile surge exponentially. Yes, Moneymaker went on to win the tournament, trousering a staggering cash prize of $2.5 million, and he launched several poker sites worldwide in the process.

Dubbed the poker boom, online poker surged in popularity, and off the back of Moneymaker’s triumph, PartyPoker showcased some of the finest tournaments and dazzled players with shimmering promotions. The “Moneymaker Effect” certainly piqued people’s interest.

Changing face of technology

Over the years, the constant changes in technology have shifted the focus for players who gravitate more towards online poker. The introduction of automatic card shufflers has increased the speed of live games, while the plethora of payment methods has made the digital experience hassle-free.

High-roller tournaments have become a part of the norm, with sites trying to pull in new players with the promise of huge rake deals, and enormous prize pools to sustain their interest.

It’s not just on the tournament front where there have been noticeable changes. On the live dealer side, online casinos have collaborated with some of the biggest software developers in the industry to create immersive games and recreate the atmosphere for players of being a land-based casino.

To underline the global reach, players can compete against anyone across the world, and at a time of their choosing. If anything, online poker has made the gambling experience more intuitive, and new features that have been incorporated to make things more immersive have been warmly welcomed.

How online poker looks today

Online poker has undergone some significant developments, but the US landscape is widely varying. As of the start of 2024, only six states have legalized and regulated online poker, while the other 44 states have plenty of work to do to change the status quo.

player playing poker online
player playing poker online

While some states have embraced poker and iGaming more broadly speaking, many remain reluctant to embrace online poker and it can be hard to shift deep-seated attitudes. Poker enthusiasts who want more information can check out the guide to online poker state laws by which will set you straight on how the land lies and which states are safe to play online poker at.

With legislative sessions in full flow across the US, the picture could well change come the end of 2024, so it is worth paying attention to the latest updates to stay in the know.


Given what has been discussed in this guide, online poker has come a long way in a short space of time. While WSOP superstars such as Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey have done a lot to popularise poker for TV audiences, the wealth of online sites available nowadays in the US pays testament to the success of the game.

Recent figures have suggested the online poker market could be worth close to $240 billion by 2030, and with an influx of new technological changes set to permeate the scene, online poker is going nowhere in a hurry. You’re not too late to party, so make sure you get involved! Above all else, always gamble responsibly.

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