Online Poker: Where and How to Play

Online poker is a phenomenon. Although it has existed since the late 1990′s, online poker has really come into its own in the last seven years. We can all thank an accountant from Tennessee for that. Chris Moneymaker had never played a live tournament in his life, but qualified for the 2003 World Series of Poker by playing online poker at Most of know what happened after that–Chris Moneymaker’s rivered full house defeated Sam Farha for the title, and $2.5 million, and instantly brought online poker into the limelight.

Poker in the U.S.

Online Poker

Prior to the aforementioned event, poker existed in the United States in legal casinos, illegal establishments, college frat houses, and innumerable home games. And, to a much lesser degree, online. The fact that Moneymaker’s WSOP win happened about the same time that the Travel Channel, and later ESPN, began televising poker, and you have a recipe for success. Suddenly millions of potential players sitting at home could watch the game and learn strategy, odds, and how to read opponents at the table. Add into that the story of Chris Moneymaker, who went from being a “nobody” accountant to an overnight celebrity and millionaire, and suddenly many Americans saw potential in online poker.

Online Poker: the Monster is Born

Since then online poker has grown astronomically. Currently it is estimated that over 2.5 million Americans play online poker, and they bet about $30 billion annually. That averages out to about $12,000 each. So, since you are obviously interested in playing online poker, as you would probably not be reading this article if you weren´t, the next piece of information you are going to need know is where to play. There are three big providers of online poker for the American audience, Doyles Room, Pokerstars, and Full Tilt Poker.

Humble Beginnings…

I began playing poker in home games with friends, and when I set out to up my game, I read some books to learn the game better. Phil Gordon´s Little Green Book and Little Blue Book helped me tremendously to improve my play. Since Mr. Gordon is a spokesperson and regular player on Full Tilt Poker, he recommends that site for online poker. So, my first experience with the game was with Full Tilt.

A Bit about FullTilt

Online Poker

To give a quick review of that site, it is fun, challenging, and very easy to navigate. Also, Full Tilt offers many easy options for opening an account, including Visa, MasterCard, and a number of online purchasing options such as Neteller and Moneybookers. Some complaints that I must note about Full Tilt is that many players complain about the random cards seeming a little too not random. Some even accuse the site of cheating, although I have never witnessed anything to suggest that this might be anything other than sour grapes on the part of people who have lost. Poker can be a cruel game in any format, and online poker is no exception. And of course, sore losers are the vocal minority. The only personal complaint I can really offer is that the avatars players can choose from are a little too cartoonish, and for me it distracts from the seriousness of the game.

Pokerstars, For More Serious Players?

Pokerstars is the largest provider of online poker for US citizens, and is a very good site to play on. The game seems a bit more serious without the childish avatars, and I have heard fewer complaints and accusations of rigged games. I do, however, find the site a bit harder to navigate, and I am unsure what payment methods they accept since I cannot figure out how to deposit money into my account.

Online poker began small but has become a true social phenomenon in our day and age. Few out there can say they haven’t had their fingers itch to type in the letters of the URL of one of the many popular sites, in the desire to play this addictive game, gain some experience and maybe make some money. The future of online poker is so bright, it outta wear shades.