Online poker has been around for nearly as long as the internet. Billions of dollars have been won and lost at the whims of what is known as the ‘random number generator’; the digital equivalent of the dealer which, if you listen to online players, is out to get them and has a personal vendetta against them.
In fact, jokes aside, a lot of people are skeptical about online poker because they can’t see the cards being shuffled and dealt, but the truth is that all of the major sites are very transparent about how their random number generator operates and have it independently tested and verified on a regular basis.
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Aside from the behind the scenes considerations, a lot of the grizzled veterans of the live scene would have you believe that ‘it’s not real poker on the internet, you can’t stare the man down and read into his soul’ and other such nonsense. The reality is that poker is much more a game of mathematics, logical reasoning and being able to read the flow of the game from previous hands than it is one of looking for elusive tells and physically intimidating your opponent. If it’s good enough for Doyle Brunson, the octogenarian ‘Godfather of Poker’ who has his own online poker site (Doyle’s Room), and was probably playing poker over 50 years before the internet came along, then it should be good enough for you! Of course where there is money to be made there are people who want to cheat, but the big sites employ swathes of security staff who work around the clock, patrolling for such miscreants.
The growth of online poker really was phenomenal. It meant that people who used to have to drive to a casino and sit in a strange environment for hours could now sit at their computers in their underwear, sipping a beer and play the game they loved. They were also able to play for lower stakes than a casino could spread, due to having much lower overheads and could play far more hands per hour because the computer is much faster at shuffling and dealing than a human. If that’s still not quick enough for you, why not open up 24 tables at once? We’ll get to multi-tabling another day.
Innumerable related businesses grew off the success of online poker too. Companies developed software that would download every hand to your PC and put it into a database such that you could see how often you check-raised the river with a flush and lost, and a myriad of other bizarre statistics. The early stars of internet poker decided there was money to be made by recording their screens as they played and giving commentary as you watched, and from that sprung the massively competitive poker training industry that exists today.
There are even sites that watch all of the tables 24/7 and record the results of every player so you can check up on that player who made a horrendous call and find out that he is down $50,000 playing poker and make yourself feel a little bit better (though this won’t get you your money back).
You can go to one of the major sites on a Sunday and play a $2 satellite to their big weekly tournament and win $200,000 if your luck is in. Online poker has proven that it truly is here to stay, so put on some coffee, whip out that credit card and get playing because you have a lot of catching up to do!