It cannot be denied that poker is a classic game, as it’s played everywhere in the world at this point.
The history of poker can be traced all the way back to the 1400s, making it a game that’s well over seven centuries old. Back then, they played different poker variations than what we play today. Even when the classic game finally came to the United States some 400 years later, players still enjoyed a slightly different version of poker. In fact, some accounts will say that in the 1800s, the game was being played in New Orleans with a stripped-down deck.
Fast forward a little over a hundred years later, and the World Series of Poker would make its debut, taking the classic card game to a new competitive level. After this, the poker boom took the world by storm in the 2000s as WSOP was being broadcast on national television, so a broader demographic was getting a chance to see the game in action. This led the masses to start playing online poker, some chasing the dream of a big win, whilst some were playing casually just for fun.
Unfortunately, in 2011, an indictment was passed which caused some of the biggest online poker platforms to stop offering real money prizes. That event was called Black Friday, and it’s where we start our look at the state of play for online poker in the US.
The Growing Industry of Poker
After Black Friday, there was a dark cloud over the poker community, but that hasn’t stopped poker from growing. Major providers were closed down, but just a few years after Black Friday, people across the country were playing poker due to evolving legislation. The industry first showed signs of growth in 2013, when Nevada moved to legalize online games, and others quickly followed. Whilst poker remained popular in casinos, the growth of the internet and social media increased demand for online games. There were many providers offering free games, with Zynga Poker being one app that allowed people to play online throughout the first few years after Black Friday.
Legal States and Process of Legalization
Today, there are both real money and free-to-play apps available for gamers. The process of online poker legalization in terms of real money games has been a bit of a slow burn in the United States over the course of the last decade. In 2013, New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada all legalized online poker, but after that, the next state wouldn’t legalize poker until 2017 as Pennsylvania joined the fray. Two years after Pennsylvania, Michigan would carry on to regulate in 2021, with West Virginia and Connecticut following suit. Unfortunately, no virtual hands have been exchanged in West Virginia or Connecticut just yet – whilst there is the provision there for games, those states have yet to sign the Multi-State Gaming Act, which means the market would be limited for players as they could only play others in their own state. That makes it a small market, one that is too small for providers to set up games there at present.
The Future of Poker
Whilst Black Friday did set online poker back, the wider game never took that big of a hit and is growing at a constant rate. The World Series of Poker has grown year on year, and films such as Rounders from the original poker boom, Casino Royale and the recent Molly’s Game have kept poker in pop culture.
The introduction of free-to-play games allows newcomers to jump into poker and play casually, whilst more states, such as New York, are set to introduce real money games in the near future. As we look to the future, we’re already seeing advances in technology enhance the poker playing experience, now, players can compete against each other in virtual reality, and it’s only a matter of time before the metaverse catches up too – this will open new and exciting avenues for poker players.
Poker has a history in the United States, and whilst Black Friday set the online game back a little, it has been strong enough to weather the storm and come out fighting the other side. Today, opinion on the online game is changing, tax dollars from the game are being put to good use, and the evolution of technology means demand for accessible poker is increasing. It’s fair to say that the future of online poker looks as promising as a pair of aces in the pocket.
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