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Online poker is the game of poker played over the Internet. It has been partly responsible for a dramatic increase in the number of poker players worldwide. In 2005, revenues from online poker were estimated at US$ 200 million per month.

Online venues, by contrast, are dramatically cheaper because they have much smaller overhead costs. For example, adding another table does not take up valuable space like it would for a brick and mortar casino. Online poker rooms also allow the players to play for low stakes (as low as 2¢) and often offer poker freeroll tournaments (where there is no entry fee), attracting beginners.

Free poker online was played as early as the late 1990s in the form of IRC poker. Planet Poker was the first online cardroom to offer real money games. The first real money poker game was dealt on January 1, 1998. Author Mike Caro became the "face" of Planet Poker in October 1999.

The major online poker sites offer varying features to entice new players. One common feature is to offer tournaments called satellites by which the winners gain entry to real-life poker tournaments. It was through one such tournament on PokerStars that Chris Moneymaker won his entry to the 2003 World Series of Poker. He went on to win the main event causing shock in the poker world. The 2004 World Series featured three times as many players as in 2003. At least four players in the WSOP final table won their entry through an online cardroom. Like Moneymaker, 2004 winner Greg "Fossilman" Raymer also won his entry at the PokerStars online cardroom.

In October 2004, Sportingbet Plc, at the time the world's largest publicly traded online gaming company (SBT.L), announced the acquisition of ParadisePoker.com, one of the online poker industry's first and largest cardrooms. The $340 million dollar acquisition marked the first time an online cardroom was owned by a public company. Since then, several other cardroom parent companies have gone public.

In June 2005, PartyGaming, the parent company of the then largest online cardroom, PartyPoker, went public on the London Stock Exchange, achieving an initial public offering market value in excess of $8 billion dollars. At the time of the IPO, ninety-two percent of Party Gaming's income came from poker operations.

The market appears to be currently in a consolidation phase. In early 2006, PartyGaming moved to acquire EmpirePoker.com from Empire Online. Later in the year, bwin, an Austrian based online gambling company, acquired PokerRoom.com. Other poker rooms such as PokerStars and Poker.com that were rumored to be exploring initial public offerings have postponed them.

As of March 2008, there are fewer than forty stand-alone cardrooms and poker networks with detectable levels of traffic. There are more than 600 independent doorways into the group of network sites. (Credit: Wikipedia).

 

 

 

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