More Amazing Moments in Online Poker History
In the almost-20 years since online poker started on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), some amazing moments have occurred. Chris Moneymaker became the first player to win the World Series of Poker by qualifying online, to PokerStars becoming the largest publicly traded online poker site in the world, online poker continues to blaze its path through all adversity.
Playing poker on IRC was interesting because it was all for play money. Some players would create multiple accounts in order to increase their bankrolls quicker. But was it always for play money? Some would loudly proclaim “Yes, of course!”, but others know the truth; agreements were made between players that the play money gambling would be converted to real money. The players would simply meet at a local establishment and pay their dues with real money currency. Clearly this was well before payment processors entered the scene to help facilitate the movement of money for this type of transaction.
Interesting to note: Chris “Jesus” Ferguson got his start playing poker on IRC. In 2017 he cashed out almost $400,000 at the WSOP.
It’s been well documented that the first real online poker site in operation was Planet Poker. The site launched on January 1 1998 and quickly gained popularity as there were no competitors. That would change in 1999 when Paradise Poker entered the online poker space.
Amazingly, and quite coincidentally, when Paradise Poker launched, Planet Poker suffered technical and security-related problems that resulted in several days of downtime. This downtime was devastating for one site and a huge bonus for another; Paradise Poker established a foothold and online poker finally got a taste of competition. Planet Poker though is no longer functioning as an online poker site.
Paradise Poker was the first online site to offer higher stakes. This, coupled with their marketing efforts through Google, resulted in popularity rivalled by none at the time. You couldn’t search for anything poker-related without seeing a Paradise Poker banner.
Competition can be good and bad. Paradise Poker had a fantastic run but sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Ultimate Bet entered the scene bringing new and innovative ideas with them. Paradise Poker shut down in late 2016.
Almost all long-time online poker players will remember the 43rd US President’s impact on the online poker world. George W Bush Jr introduced the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which had an immediate impact on the industry.
The Safe Port Act contained provisions relating to Internet gambling.
Party Poker fled the scene immediately by abandoning the US Market. PokerStars argued that poker is a game of skill (rather than gambling) and firmly dug their heels in. This allowed them to gain a stranglehold on those US players.
Neteller, one of the world’s largest payment processors, was shut down by the United States’ Department of Justice. Thankfully the players did end up receiving their funds, however it was clear that the US Government had access to all those players’ historical poker-related financial transfers.
For some time, a few online poker sites continued to operate and make real money games available to the US market. This would continue for a few more years, culminating in the now-infamous Black Friday. We’re turning a corner. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware regulate online poker in each of their own states. Pennsylvania will soon be following suit too. So, it’s a slow process but we’re heading in the right direction. We can’t predict how long it may take to get back into the USA – and whether it will be a state by state regulation or ultimately a federal law.
Who knows what the future holds? GreySnowPoker.com wants to be back in the USA, with our players playing for huge cash sums in fantastic tournaments. We’re ready when you are.