Online Poker, an Overview

Online Poker is simply poker played on the internet in various poker rooms, and although the first online poker room was only launched in the late 1990’s, online poker has exploded in popularity and is estimated to have a value of over $2 billion per annum.

Some of the reasons for this unprecedented growth are:

  • Online poker rooms are accessible to anyone with a computer, whereas land-based casinos can be both difficult to access and rather intimidating for the beginner
  • Many online poker rooms offer free e-money to beginners, which in turn allow the rookies to hone their skills without the risk of losing hard-earned cash. Some of the more successful poker rooms even offer free-roll online poker tournaments where no buy-in is expected, to lure prospective punters away from the competition, both online and brick and mortar.
  • Unlike casinos, the online poker rooms offer excessively low stakes, often in the region of 1 or 2 pence, in an effort to draw punters, whereas the land based gaming houses have a minimum stake of between £1 and £2.

Credibility & Fairness

For the uninitiated online poker rooms may seem vulnerable to fraud, but quite the opposite is true. Technology has the ability to track collusion between players and to detect any unusual patterns or discrepancies. Dedicated security personnel regularly check hand history and IP addresses to prevent players from colluding or playing from the same household or even the same area together.

The poker rooms may have their own methods of preventing cheating, but how are the punters protected from unscrupulous poker room bosses? There are constant mutterings about non-random card dealing and possibly fraud taking place but there has been absolutely no evidence to support these claims. Many of the more successful poker rooms have reputable organisations like PricewaterhouseCoopers constantly reviewing the fairness of both the payouts and the random number generator shuffle.

Even though most of the reputable online poker rooms and casinos have gone to great lengths to protect their integrity and credibility there have been a couple of occasions where security has been breached:

  • In 2007 Poker Stars picked up the fact that the winner of the main event of the World Championship of Online Poker had abused multiple accounts and was summarily disqualified
  • In the same year an employee at Absolute Poker was caught playing a high stakes game while scrutinising his opponent’s hole cards