Online Poker History: How Poker Evolved

Online poker is poker played over the internet. Poker is one of the most famous casino games played in online casinos worldwide, and it has a long and fascinating history. A poker is a betting game played between 2-7 players who are dealt 5-7 cards during the game. The main aim of poker is to acquire a winning combination of cards before the other player. Poker has over ten variants played in different online casinos all around the world. It is a popular game and can be played in any reputable online casino or online poker site.

Online poker history dates back to the 1990s, and since then, online poker has been somewhat to blame for the substantial increase in the number of poker players all over the world. To enjoy poker, you would need to know online poker history.

Everything to Know about Online Poker History
  • Online poker was played for free back in the 1990s
  • Online poker real money started in 1998
  • Online poker tournaments also started in the early 2000s
  • Online poker experienced significant expansion from 2003 to 2006

Online Poker Origin

Online poker’s origin dates back to the late 1990s when online poker was played for free in the form of IRC poker. This is a type of poker played over the Internet Relay Chat protocol. This was the only way to play some poker online before the emergence of online poker games. A computer program managed IRC poker, and it was more fast-paced than the live poker games because of the capability to send the dealer a message before taking a turn. IRC poker was also played with imaginary money, but it was a starting point for a lot of professional online poker players. IRC poker even offered Texas hold’em, Omaha hold’em and no-limit Texas hold’em.

After IRC poker, the next step in online poker origin was in 1998, on the 1st of January when the first online poker real money game was dealt. The first online poker room to offer real money poker was Planet Poker on this day. It was then that the author, Mike Caro, came to be the face of Planet Poker in October 1998 as their celebrity endorser.

After online poker became a widespread thing on the internet, these online poker sites like PokerStars began to hold tournaments which they called satellites. These tournaments offered the winners entry to real-life poker tournaments. This was the kind of competition that led to the beginning of the poker boom. In the tournament held by PokerStars, Chris Moneymaker won and got an entry into the 2003 World Series of Poker. After he won, he caused the poker boom.

The poker boom is another crucial point in online poker origin. This was a time between the years 2003 and 2006 when poker, both online and lice, became very popular. All the variations, particularly no-limit Texas hold ’em, became extremely popular around the world. During this time, the number of online poker players doubled every year.

Since then, online poker has become very popular and widespread all over the world.

Online Poker Important Dates in History

The 1st of January, 1998.

This was the day when the first online poker real money was played online on Planet Poker. The first software tests were held in 1997, but the real money game started at the beginning of the next year. Mike Caro, the famous author, gave the site celebrity endorsement causing the traffic of poker players to increase. Planet Poker’s monopoly of the online poker market at that time is what contributed to its success. It was the most visited online poker site until the release of Paradise Poker in 1999.


PokerStars and PartyPoker were launched this year. These were the two giants in the online poker industry at that point, and they contributed a lot to the poker boom. Till now, a company like PokerStars is still a major player in the online poker market.


This year, Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event. Chris Moneymaker was an accountant who signed up for a $40 satellite tournament and ended up winning $2.5 million at the end of the tournament. This caused other people to join online poker sites, leading to the poker boom or the Moneymaker boom.


In December 2009, the world saw Brian Hastings win $4.1 million from the famous online poker player Viktor Blom (Isildur1) in a single session. Viktor Blom became famous after he won Tom Dwan in different games. Although this was a significant point, it was later revealed that Hastings had cheated to achieve this feat.


On the 15th of April, 2011, the online poker industry suffered a massive blow from the attempt of the Department of Justice in the USA to regulate online poker USA. This is an essential point in online poker history. The DOJ suddenly seized PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker which were the largest poker sites at that time. PokerStars was able to survive by paying $1 billion in fines to the DOJ and then, operating outside the US after that.


This year, online poker USA became legalized in three states. On the 28th of June, online poker became wholly legal and was subject to regulation in Delaware. On the 25th of February, the same happened in Nevada; and the next day, laws were passed in New Jersey too.

The launch of 888Poker in Nevada and Delaware (2013) – 888poker, one of the world’s largest online poker sites, launched in Nevada and Delaware, becoming the first online poker site to operate in multiple states under a license from a state gaming commission. This marked a new era for online poker in the US as more states began to legalize and regulate the industry.

The launch of WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey (September 2013) – The World Series of Poker (WSOP) launched WSOP.com, becoming the first online poker site to operate under a license from a state gaming commission. This marked the beginning of the regulated online poker market in the US.


The Launch of PokerStars NJ (March 21, 2016) – PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, launched in New Jersey, becoming the first major online poker site to operate in the United States since Black Friday. This launch marked the beginning of a new era for online poker in the US, as more states began to legalize and regulate the industry.


The Launch of partypoker US Network (2017) – Partypoker launched its US network, becoming one of the first major online poker sites to operate in the US market following the legalization of online poker in several states. The launch marked the return of partypoker to the US market after several years of absence.


The Launch of PokerStars PA & Unibet Poker (November 4, 2019) – PokerStars launched in Pennsylvania, becoming the first online poker site to operate in the state. This launch marked the expansion of online poker in the US, as more states began to legalize and regulate the industry.

Online Poker Fun Facts

The most significant online poker loss ever recorded in online poker history was made by Guy Laliberte, who lost $31 million to online poker. He was the founder of Cirque du Soleil and was once featured on Forbes. You cannot find his losses under one account because they were spread between six accounts. Because he was estimated to be about $1.37 billion at that time, this loss did not affect him severely.

PokerStars holds the largest online poker tournament by field size. The tournament was held in 2013 with a field size of 225,000 players.

PokerStars also holds the largest online poker tournament by prize pool. This was held in 2010, and it had a total prize pool of more than $12.2 million.

The most massive pot in online poker history was done by Viktor Blom, whose nickname was Isildur1.

Online Poker: Legal Situation in the USA

A usual question asked by online poker players is, ‘is online poker illegal?’ The legal situation of online poker and other casino games is tricky in the USA. A lot of offshore sites still accept US customers by finding creative ways to go around the UIEGA banking issues. This is because playing poker online is not strictly or explicitly against any US laws and so you can play on legitimate offshore sites. If you want to play with USA legitimate sites, you have to be physically present in New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, or Pennsylvania. These four states offer legal online poker. You can also play online poker on other online casino sites.

If you play online poker games on illegal sites, you would be seen as breaking the law. However, with the surge of cryptocurrencies and anonymous gambling platforms now you can access any website from anywhere with the simple use of a VPN.

Best Online Crypto Poker Sites

Speaking of illegal sites, the best online poker sites which are legal would have a permit and a license, so you can easily find out if the site is unlawful or not. If you’re looking for a great and legal online poker site, you can find it on our useful dedicated crypto poker site comparison page.

Online poker history is long and fascinating, but even with the breakthroughs and records broken in the world of online poker, there are still more to break and more records to make. You can join one of the best online poker sites and start playing now to rack up new wins and break new records. Our detailed poker comparison would provide you with all of the best online poker sites which have the best bonuses. Online poker sites offer players generous bonuses like no deposit bonuses and free spins which allow the players to start playing for free. Whatever type of online poker variant that you are interested in, our guide would provide you with the ideal poker sites. All you have to do is click on the link, register, and start playing now to win.

If you’re new to the world of poker, you can also check out our other articles on how to play online poker games.


The Fascinating Game of Poker

The game of poker has come a long way, but it is still one of the most famous casino games played online. Poker is an exciting yet charming casino game that appeals to all types of people because of its wide range of variants provided. You must be part of those who enjoy poker, and if you want to enjoy it, even more, you can register on one of our recommended online poker sites and start playing now.



Meet Cosmin, a seasoned expert in the gambling industry. With over 4 years of experience in casino operations and a deep understanding of the inner workings of the industry, Cosmin is a leading authority on all things gambling. He specializes in strategy development, risk management, and maximizing profits. He is a regular speaker at industry events and has a reputation for delivering valuable insights and actionable advice to both operators and players. Whether you're a seasoned gambler or new to the game, Cosmin's knowledge and experience can help you increase your chances of success.

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