Online poker is a card game played over the Internet and has led to a huge growth in the number of players worldwide. The games are regulated in the states that have legalized them and adhere to strict standards to ensure fair play and protect player data and funds.
However, some unlicensed, offshore operators have no such standards and may operate without basic consumer safeguards or regulation. Players should only ever play at a reputable, licensed and certified site to avoid any problems.
While the rules of poker are the same, playing online requires a different set of skills. For example, reading physical ‘tells’ is not possible, so the ability to size up opponents by their betting tendencies is more important. Additionally, online games move much faster than live ones. Most live players see about 25 to 30 hands per hour, while online players can sometimes play as many as 100. This can cause issues with concentration, especially for beginners.
A wide range of software programs is available for poker online. Some save, sort and recall all hand histories, while others scan active tables for known players and display previous statistics from their hands next to their name (known as a heads up display or HUD). Other software programs can even analyze your current hand for odds, equity, and variance. While these tools can be useful, it is important to keep in mind that it is possible for a skilled player to beat any computer program.
The majority of regulated US online poker sites belong to one of a few major networks. In addition, there are a handful of standalone poker rooms that only operate in specific markets. Despite the crowded market, it is still possible to find a top poker room.
Online poker players are a unique group of gamblers with particular behavioral characteristics and elevated risk for problem gambling. Moreover, they are likely to spend more money and play at higher stakes than non-online poker players. Therefore, understanding the online poker gambling population is critical to understanding problem gambling in general and to preventing its harmful effects.
Regulated online poker first came to the United States in 2013, when Nevada and Delaware passed legislation. A few years later, New Jersey joined them to form a multi-state online poker compact (MSIGA). This arrangement would allow regulated states to combine their player pools. However, things looked grim after the DOJ began to interpret the Wire Act as a way to stop multi-state agreements, and New Jersey was eventually forced to abandon its MSIGA in 2022. Fortunately, it seems as though the future of inter-state poker is looking up again. The prospect of Pennsylvania and Michigan joining the MSIGA could potentially expand the size of the current pool by several times. If this happens, the MSIGA could be reborn as a viable model for inter-state online poker.