The popularity of online poker continues to rise as states legalize the game, more players come on board and technological advancements have made the games faster and easier to learn. However, before you play online poker for real money you must understand the risks and be sure that you’re playing on a legitimate site. If you’re not, you could be putting your money and personal information at risk.
The first online poker sites launched in the 1990s following Chris Moneymaker’s World Series of Poker victory and subsequent “poker boom.” Many of these early poker websites were unregulated and operated without basic consumer safeguards or strict regulation, which left them susceptible to fraud and unable to offer their players adequate protections. Many of these sites also closed after a few years, most notably Poker Spot, which was founded by poker celebrity Dutch Boyd.
After these setbacks, the online poker industry was able to regroup and start growing again. The advent of new technology like Twitch, which allows top poker players to connect with fans, has helped to further spread the popularity of the game and encourage players to take it more seriously. A variety of new coaching options and training tools have also been introduced, which help players to improve their skills.
One of the main reasons why online poker is so popular is that it offers players the chance to play for as long as they like, at any stakes from anywhere with an internet connection. This flexibility is a major draw for both casual and serious poker players. It’s also an intellectual game that rewards actual skill rather than luck, unlike slots or the lottery.
As of now, three states have legalized and regulated online poker: New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. Pennsylvania is poised to join them, though it’s unclear when exactly that will happen. These regulated poker sites operate in a shared player pool, which increases the overall number of available players.
While it is true that some disgruntled employees of online poker sites have abused the system in the past to benefit themselves, it’s also true that no reputable poker site would willingly risk their reputation, legal status, and cash flow by interfering with individual hands. This type of action is akin to professional suicide, and the fact that poker has become so big has placed huge amounts of pressure on poker sites not to break the law.
When you log in to a legal US poker site, the lobby will be categorized by Cash Games, Tournaments and Sit & Go’s. Each of these categories will have different types of poker events running at any given time. In addition, most sites will feature beginner tables where you will be seated with other players who have classified themselves as beginners. This dramatically levels the playing field for newcomers and is highly recommended if you’re just starting out. This is a great way to get used to the speed of the game and learn the ins and outs of poker.