The interest in online poker has skyrocketed since the beginning of the new millennium with millions of players worldwide competing for often life-changing sums of money or entry into the world’s most prestigious poker tournaments.

Online poker has been available to play online since the late 1990’s with the first online poker room to allow real money wagering in 1998. Reports state that online poker revenues increased from $82.7 million in 2001 to $2.4 billion in 2005, showing a dramatic rise over just four years.  One catalyst to the online poker boom in the 2000’s was Chris Moneymaker winning the 2003 World Series of Poker. He gained entry to the event through an online satellite tournament and went on to win, shocking the poker world and attracting new players to the tables. So much so in fact that the World Series attracted three times as many players in 2004 compared to 2003.

Online poker differs from conventional poker as players are not visible to each other and so are unable to read players’ reactions or body language when cards are dealt or bets are placed. Players must adapt to online play with additional poker strategies by noticing betting patterns of other players and other behavior tells. The use of player statistics provided by the poker site can help with this along with getting to know certain players over a period of time at the tables with them.

If you are interested in playing poker online, there are many reputable poker sites which provide both free play and real-money tables. Many of the top sites also offer new customer bonuses. These can be in the form of no-deposit bonuses, deposit bonuses or free entries into online tournaments. Poker bonuses work in a slightly similar way to casino bonuses in that you are usually required to wager or stake a certain amount before the bonus is released. This is usually based on the ‘rake’. The rake is the small commission paid to the poker site from each real-money pot and is essentially how poker sites make money.