You’ve probably seen it by now. You’re flipping channels on the ‘Box’, hoping to catch some decent sport. ESPN, normally so reliable for the staples of sport lovers the world over, appears to be showing a bunch of guys playing cards. At least, that’s what I thought when first I saw the “World Series of Poker” on TV.
Of course, it only takes a couple of minutes of watching events unfold that you realize this is way, way more than just a card game. The professional poker circuit is effectively the world’s most televised table-sport, a sport, with its own accompaniment of superstars and celebs.
Like so many other sports, poker is awash with drama and tension and adrenaline fuelled moments. It’s nerve-wracking, edge-of-the-seat stuff and it’s no wonder poker is so widely televised.
Once the poker bug bites, there’s no turning back. It’s a game of tactical skill, psychoanalytical interplay and little bit of dumb luck. The more you play (or even just watch the pros play) the better you get. The better you get the more fun it is to play.
Poker is certainly not new, but it is currently enjoying popularity unlike any time before in its long history. For the most part, this is due to the televised poker events that have really caught on.
Further driving the poker boom is the expansion of the online poker market.
Online poker rooms have created a new avenue through which Joe Average poker player can indulge in his favorite card game. Previously the reserve of casinos and smoky bar rooms, poker, now more than ever, is coming into the homes of players the world over. All the interactivity and global interconnectedness that the Internet has brought to other realms, it now brings to the world of poker.
How does online poker work?
The first thing to understand, is that when you’re playing poker online, you’re playing against other, real people connected to the game via the Internet. This is different from video poker, which is the type of game you may find in a casino, where you’re playing poker against the machine and its software. It’s also important to understand the difference between a poker website and an online casino. With online casinos, players are typically pitted against the “house” and as is the case with all casinos both online and in the real world, the aggregate result is that “the house always wins”. That’s not to say none of the players ever win any money. For sure, there are regular payouts to players at a casino based on some percentage of the total turnover. I’ve oversimplified it, but essentially that’s the business model of any casino. The casino makes money by offering entertainment and the potential for players to win.
When it comes to online poker rooms or poker websites, the “house” never wagers anything. Poker websites are a neutral third party that create the infrastructure and environment for poker players to take on each other. The online poker room provider earns its money by taking a small percentage of each pot bet, usually called the rake. In some cases, poker rooms might have tournaments that require an entry fee to join in.
What are the components of an online poker game?
The first part would be the poker website or online poker room. These are websites that provide the games as well as information about the rules, events and playing advice. Many of these poker rooms then require you to download poker client software. This software is then installed on the players on computer and will be display a graphical representation of the poker game. The poker game itself is hosted on a poker game server and the player’s client connects to this server to join a game. Of course, the most important components in all of this are the poker players. People like you and me who go to the online poker rooms, download the poker clients and connect via the poker game server to online poker games.
What makes online poker different from real world poker?
The number one difference, so obvious it perhaps does not even warrant statement, is that in
online poker there’s no visual contact between players, so all the little body language “tells” are taken out of the equation.
This means that online players have to rely far more on other means of analysis to suss out their opponents. Things like betting patterns and reaction time become far more important than in conventional, real-world poker.
Another difference is the rate of play. poker online games are played at a much faster rate. Additionally, online poker rooms often allow players to participate in multiple tables at once, opening up new possibilities in terms of earning rates for players who can win consistently.
Online poker websites also often have online training available, flattening the learning curves for novices. This, combined with the availability of “free roll” games for beginners and the relative anonymity of the internet, makes online poker a very inviting option for the newcomer to the world of poker.