Evolution of the Online Poker Game

By  //  August 31, 2021

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Have you ever wondered how the game of poker started? If so, then you are at the right place. It is without a doubt that the game has evolved. From two centuries ago, when it was played by knife-makers on riverboats, outlaws, and cheats to being played by celebrated professionals today.

Casinos used to be packed with players who were trying their hand at the poker table before the industry embraced technology and saw the rise of the best free online poker that connects millions of players worldwide.

The game of poker is challenging and involves a lot of skills and practice for one to win. This is one reason why the game has kept players interested for decades. So how has this game evolved to become one of the most popular amongst online gamblers? Read on to find out!

1998: The Emergence of Online Poker 

It is documented that the first online game of poker was played in the late 1990s using the Internet Relay Chat System

The IRC is a communication system that was popular and supported the first online poker tournaments. Several players had fun playing against each other for the first time.

In 1998 the game was played in North America, albeit viewed as exclusive and hard to master. The first online poker room was created by Poker Planet and brought players together to compete for cash prizes. 

2003: The Impact of Chris Moneymaker on Online Poker

Fast forward to 2003, the number of online poker players in North America skyrocketed. This was within months after the famous victory of Chris Moneymaker in The World Series Of Poker.

Chris made headlines when he bluffed his way to winning against Sammy Farha, a seasoned card shark. 

The story of the 27-year-old who had made his way to WSOP by winning an online poker satellite sparked a wave of excitement that saw hundreds of thousands sign up to online poker with the hope of emulating him.

Before this historic win, the number of online poker players in North America had leveled out, and one could not have guessed that there would be a need to grow the player community to Europe and Asia to accommodate the huge number of players that followed.

2006: Government Intervention That Halted the Game in North America 

The surge in registration of new player numbers thanks to the ‘Moneymaker Effect’ would bring into sharp focus online gambling in America. 

So much that in 2006, the Federal Government shut down online poker by passing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

The country with the highest number of online poker players suddenly became one of the few places where players could enjoy a game of poker. 

2006-2014: The Involvement of Britain in Online Poker

Following the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the industry had no choice but to explore new markets outside America. 

The UK capitalized on an available market of enthusiastic poker players and quickly became the game’s hub.

The UK passed favorable laws that attracted more gambling companies into the country. During this period of eight years, the number of online poker players was the highest in Britain compared to any country in the world.

The high number of players and the need for more games paved the way for the growth of many online casinos.

During this period, the significant development of online poker set a benchmark that many countries today use to grow their online casino market. 

2014-2020: The Effect of Technology

The poker industry has faced many shifts over the two decades. These shifts are largely attributed to rigid rules that were imposed by states as a way to regulate and govern the game. 

Once established, the British online poker industry started to look for new avenues of growth. It soon adopted new technologies such as mobile apps that enabled players who are overseas to easily access and play online poker from the comfort of their homes.


Just like every coin, the online poker industry has seen its share of challenges during its growth over the two decades. Some online gambling companies had to close down and move overseas to look for new markets.

On the flip side, these challenges forced other companies to think outside the box and come up with innovative ways of reaching more players. A good example is online casino mobile apps that players can easily download and enjoy a game of poker at a time and place of their convenience.