In the not too distant past, poker was a game for hardened gamblers who frequented the tables in Vegas.
And many of the other poker venues across the US were seen as intimidating to your average gambler; their interest in playing the game thwarted by a lack of suitable venues.
Today it is open to everyone with a laptop, tablet or phone, with high or low stakes games open any time of the day or night.
Online poker was available free of charge in the late 1990s, with real money games available as early as 1998.
The online development of the game was gradual, but by 2010 there were around 545 online poker websites worldwide.
In the US there were many hurdles for the average gambler to clear to gain access to the online game. North Dakota was one of the first states to see the potential of online poker and legalized the practice, the proviso being any online site physically located their operation in the state.
However, the State Senate threw the ruling out after the intervention of the US Department of Justice. They stated that online gaming ‘may’ be illegal and the legislation ‘might’ violate the federal Wire Act.
Many of the poker apps then created alternative websites offering poker schools, effectively playing poker for fun rather than for money. The legal challenges continued and it wasn’t until 2013 that Nevada became the first US state to allow persons physically located in the state, and at least 21 years of age, to play poker online for money.
Delaware followed soon after, then New Jersey, and in 2014 an agreement was reached for interstate gambling. Nevada and Delaware signed to allow online poker players from Nevada to play poker for real money against online players in Delaware. A three-state deal involving New Jersey went live in May 2018.
Playing Online Poker for Real Money in the USA
There are numerous poker sites online and the most popular game across all sites is Texas Hold’em. In Hold’em you are given only two cards, and you try and combine them with five community cards to make the best possible hand. Simple to learn but difficult to master, and a great introduction to online poker.
Before you take the plunge read up about the rules of Texas-hold’em. The great thing about online poker is that you can play for as little or as much as you want, and many sites offer free games for you to hone your skills. Other online poker games include Pot-Limit Omaha, 7 Card Stud, and 5 Card Draw.
When you feel confident enough you can then look to enter online poker tournaments – the cheapest way to potentially win big money. Many sites offer access to $10 buy-in online tournaments, some offering first prizes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You pay your buy-in and receive a set number of chips. Once you’ve bet all your chips you’re out.
Other types of tournaments include Sit & Gos, SNGs: smaller games which start once enough players have entered. It is worth your while reading up on strategies for playing poker tournaments like Sit & Gos.
Simple cash games are also popular where you buy in with a certain amount of cash and receives chips with a real monetary value. Each game will have a minimum and maximum amount a player can have on the table – the amount related to the size of the blinds at that table. The blind is the forced bet the player to the left of the dealer must make.
You can cash out at any time during cash games so you can play for ten minutes or ten hours.
It is always worth reading up about the game and even watching some of the professionals to see how they play and, more importantly, when and why they fold. ESPN shows live poker tournaments.