Online poker has grown immensely in popularity over the past decade, thanks in large part to ESPN and its televised coverage of the World Series of Poker. In 2000, 512 players entered into the most prestigious tournament in poker. By 2010, the number of entrants exploded to over 7,000.
This rapid growth was not lost on entrepreneurs looking to gain from the popularity of one of the most popular home games in America. Indeed, poker games were being offered online since the late 1990s. However, it was the 2003 World Series of Poker that really put online poker in the mainstream.
In that tournament, an amateur poker player appropriately named Chris Moneymaker won the $2.5 million grand prize after earning his entry ticket in a WSOP satellite tournament at PokerStars. When this accountant beat hundreds of professionals on his way to becoming a millionaire, millions of other people took to online poker to make their fortunes as well.
Since then, online poker has seen almost uninterrupted growth. Although estimates do vary, most experts believe that approximately 10 million Americans play poker online, and this doesn’t even account for the millions of additional international players.
Until a couple of weeks ago, playing poker online was very easy to do; all the major pokers sites, including PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, had the same basic procedure. First, you downloaded an application from their website and installed the client on your computer. With the installation complete, you could already play free roll games over the internet.
However, if you wanted to play games for cash, like most online poker players, you were required to take the additional step of depositing money in an account maintained by the company. Thankfully for players, this was also a very easy step. Indeed, most deposits could be made with just a credit card.
Once you were signed up, you could play a full array of games, including hold’em, stud and draw poker. You could also play sit-and-go games, if that was your pleasure, or tournaments. The number and variety of games was almost endless.
However, everything came to a crashing when the U.S. Department of Justice seized the domain names of the three most popular online poker sites, essentially closing them down. Because of this action, American players can no longer play online poker for money. This had a significant impact on the online poker sites, which reported that traffic on their sites fell by 25 percent after the legal maneuver. American players can still play free games online at these sites, but they cannot play any games with cash prizes.
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