The History of Online Poker

The History of Online Poker

Starting from its humble beginnings in the early 1990’s, online poker has gone from strength to strength, achieving its most significant breakthrough in the mid-2000’s and now enjoying tremendous popularity among online gamers.

This article looks back at the early stages of online poker -- the first websites that brought the game of poker into people’s homes on their computer monitors.

Some background

You could play free poker online as early as the latter years of the nineties and it was only natural that internet poker rooms offering games with real money would be the next step. In 1996 there were only 15 gambling websites, a number which shot up to 200 barely a year later.

Online poker was quick to establish itself on the scene as one of the most popular games among players. The impetus of the online gambling industry in a time where regulation still wasn’t strict, fuelled also by the enthusiasm of players, meant that poker websites soon became a hit among devoted poker players who were also computer users.

IRC Poker (late 1990s)

Image credit: PokerListings.com

To the untrained eye, the first ever games of online poker were more likely to be mistaken for a piece of software code rather than gambling. By way of example, IRC poker was a form of poker that was developed by Todd Mummert and Greg Reynolds to be played over the popular IRC chat protocol.

These early games were played with imaginary money, and to participate in a game you had to download a computer program that connected you to an IRC server. You could then play against other players by typing a series of commands that let you call, raise, check or fold.

Despite requiring more computer knowledge than the average user would need, IRC poker still attracted a sizeable and passionate following. Even real-life poker experts were joining in the online games and five-time World Series of Poker champion Chris Ferguson got his first break by honing his poker skills on IRC chat rooms.

IRC poker offered online players a variety of poker variants, such as Texas and Omaha hold‘em, and the system was flexible enough to allow user to create and run their own poker scripts with the IRC client itself. In fact, one of these scripts was called r00lbot -- a small computer program that could keep track of one’s winning record during play and also display funny quotes.

Planet Poker (1998)

Image credit: poker.wikia.com

Soon after the first online gambling licences became available in the mid-nineties to betting operators, the first-ever real-money online card room officially opened shop in January 1998 to offer poker enthusiasts worldwide the opportunity to earn real cash from their wins.

Planet Poker was founded by Randy Blumer, who in many respects was a pioneer exploring uncharted territory in the history of online gaming. The first Texas Hold’em games were held with betting limits between $3 to $6, and the website attracted a modest number of players at first. Hold’em, despite the growth of PLO, remains the most popular and well known online poker variant.

By Summer 1998, Planet Poker became a huge hit and credit card companies started allowing payments to be made by players to transfer money to and from their bankroll more easily. Back then, nearly all the players were depending on dial-up internet to play online and the website had to grapple with several problems due to poor connectivity.

The technical problems that Planet Poker was facing, coupled with a lack of sophisticated game features, cost the website its position as the predominant online poker outlet in the late 90’s. The same week that rival online poker room Paradise Poker was launched, Planet Poker suffered from several days of downtime which prompted users to switch over to its new competitor. Although the site still exists, it has retained operations as a free-to-play game only.

Paradise Poker (1999)

Image credit: Cruzino.com

When it opened in 1999, Paradise Poker cause quite a stir among the online poker community because of its smooth gameplay and impressive graphics. It delivered on the features that Planet Poker lacked, such as in-game animation, music, better chat options and even the ability to order virtual food and drink to your table.

The website offered players a wide variety of online poker games, includes 7 card stud, hold ‘em and 5 card draw. Some of the most unusual features on Paradise Poker was ‘Pineapple’ mode, where you could draw three cards at the beginning of the game instead of the usual two and later discard one of them, and ‘raise/fold hold’em’, where your only options at the table was to either raise the stakes or fold out of the game.

Although the website was very successful, this didn’t prevent it from falling in dark times due to changing gaming regulations in various countries and newer online poker platforms that offered a better gaming experience. You can still play online poker on Paradise Poker today, however the website is very different from what is used to look and feel like back in the early 2000s; something which prompted even veteran players, cheated of their nostalgia fix, to abandon the site.

Poker Room (1999)

Image credit: Lidholt.com

For nearly a decade, Poker Room was one of the internet’s premier online poker destinations. With its motto: ‘Meet them and beat them’, the website grew exponentially from its humble beginnings as a the brainchild of two Swedish poker players and a computer programmer to become one of the world’s biggest poker sites.

The distinguishing feature of Poker room was its innovative and superior software. Poker Room broke new ground in the online poker arena by being on the first sites to make available a Mac-compatible client, as well as Linux applications and later on mobile phone apps.

The website eventually was integrated within the PokerNetwork (later known as the Ongame Network) and this further boosted its reputation as one of the most recognisable poker sites on the internet. Unfortunately, after being passed along from owner to owner and running into several regulation difficulties, the website was shut down in 2009 by its final owner, bwin, a decision which came in the wake of big losses from Poker Rooms once massive player base.

Cards on the table

The meteoric rise of online poker in the mid-nineties foreshadowed the second wave of popularity that the game experienced in the mid-2000s. In both cases, the reasons behind the success were advances in technology that allowed people to connect more easily and quickly, as well as enjoying realistic games thanks to better graphics, sounds and controls.

The future of online poker is now brighter than ever; internet poker rooms account for the biggest share of revenue in the online gaming industry.

Game developers and betting companies are working together to create a more interactive and exciting online poker experience, one that is virtually unrecognizable from that driven by the software that existed during the early forays of online poker.

The progress of online poker seems to have no end in sight and with all the possibilities that mobile and 3D technology opens, online poker companies may still have several cards up their sleeve.

 

Promo Items Ending Soon

Promo Items Ending Soon

5 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:1h leftToday 1:55PM
$182.51
36 bids

4 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:2h leftToday 2:07PM
$1.61
1 bid

7 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:2h leftToday 2:21PM
$1.96
2 bids

From United Kingdom

Time left:2h leftToday 2:25PM
$1.71
2 bids

5 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:20h leftThursday, 8AM
$3.91
4 bids

3 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:20h leftThursday, 8AM
$17.92
11 bids

3 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:20h leftThursday, 8AM
$3.58
4 bids

3 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:20h leftThursday, 8AM
$1.69
2 bids

From United Kingdom

Time left:20h leftThursday, 9AM
$1.61
1 bid

3 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:23h leftThursday, 11AM
$1.61
1 bid

3 Photos

From United Kingdom

Time left:23h leftThursday, 11AM
$1.61
Mario Makes Bank!

Mario Makes Bank!

This Dr. Mario coin bank is one of the nicest Dr. Mario accessories I've seen.  And it is musical!  There isn't a large amount of merchandise floating around out there for the game, so this could definitely be the focal point for a tried and true Dr Mario fan's collection.  I really wish they had made a replica of Mario's degree from becoming a doctor as a promo item, that would have been great!  He does have a PHD.....right?  Anyhow, there were a few other banks currently on the bay that caught my attention.

-Donkey Kong Arcade Bank

-Super Mario Bank

-Mario Kart in the 1940's?: Let your imaginations soar...

-Sonic on a Toilet

-Halo Spartan Bank

-Nina from Tekken:  Nothing like a bust of a chick with a vacant stare and no arms.

 

 

Nintendo World Championship 1990 Winner’s Trophy

Nintendo World Championship 1990 Winner’s Trophy

None too often does an item come along that signifies such an illustrious part of video gaming history as this 1990 Nintendo World Championship trophy.  Sure, it isn't in the greatest shape, but can you imagine how many friends/potential girlfriends/boyfriends you could get just walking down the street holding this baby?  My wife just replied to this with the answer 'none,' but I would love nothing more than for someone to snap up this beauty and prove her wrong!  From the seller:  "This is the Nintendo World Championships Trophy from 1990 given to the Atlanta Champion in the age category 11&under.  Bought this trophy directly from Jeremy Tomashek who is the original owner and winner."  Best offer option is available.

 

C04

Acclaim ‘Prototype’ Boxes

Acclaim (+ LJN) is a 3rd party publisher for the original Nintendo who seemed to have an affinity for showcasing new and upcoming games at CES in the form of mock up box art.  I would attribute this to the fact that Acclaim opted to manufacture their own boxes, manuals and carts rather than pay Nintendo the privilege of doing it for them.  It was likely easy and relatively low cost for them to run a small print of boxes for their booths at CES and other electronic expos.  A small amount of these 'prototype' boxes have survived through the years and have made their way into collector's hands.  While some of their covers appear identical (or have one or two small revisions) to the retail release, the main tell of these boxes are the blank backs.  The most interesting ones, however, are radically different than the final release and can offer insight into how the original box art concept changes over time and becomes the final product that winds up on store shelves.  Right now, there are a few of those boxes up on ebay, for a rather high BIN (though there is a best offer option)

 

Arch Rivals

Cybernoid

Bigfoot

Total Recall

 

 

TESTED Blockbuster World Video Game Championships II Sega Genesis Cartridge EBK

Blockbuster World Video Game Championships II Sega Genesis Sells

I love seeing this cart show up.

If you've never heard of the game, its kinda rare. As of three years ago, less than five copies have been confirmed to exist, with three of them passing through the hands of our own Nicola. Not sure what the count on them is now. If you have any luck finding one of these in the wild, let me know next time you go to a Casino, as I'd like to tag along on your luck. If you like casino games, we recommend that you visit this website, although it’s in Norwegian

Apparently, in 1995 Blockbuster organized their second Video Game Championship. There were two categories, up to 13 and over 14 years old. You also had to choose to compete on the SNES or Genesis. From June 14th to July 9th there was a Store Championship Competition, then the WVGC-Finals. Each store had to award a Store Champions with a prize of free rentals for the next two years (two games a month).

The best eleven players then won a trip to San Francisco for the final fight in August, inside the GamePro (gaming magazine) HQ.

For SNES, Rare built the well known Donkey Kong Competition Edition cart. For Genesis, Acclaim made this cart. Unlike the DK cart however, this cart could not be won, nor bought. Store owners were ordered to destroy the cart after the competition. Not surprisingly however, that didn't always happen.

The last copy (that I remember), went for a final price of $2,068.05. Since then there has been others listed, including one for $50,000. Recently ShopGoodwill had one sell in a lot for an absurd amount. However, it appears it ended up unpaid and was relisted on eBay.

Final price ended up at $2,050.00.

TESTED Blockbuster World Video Game Championships II Sega Genesis Cartridge EBK 300x225

Cookie n’ Cake

Cookie n’ Cake

Judging by the starting picture of this listing for a Crash Bandicoot Cookie Jar, it appears that this is actually more of a torture device from Saw than a friendly Crash-stuck-to-the-front-of-a-rocket....would you like to play a game?  It inspired me to want to feature some of the cool video game related cookie jars that are out there, but alas...the only other one I see up for auction currently is a Portal Companion Cube.

 

Super Mario Bros Cookie Cutters:  'Itsa' me....a cookie'

Pac-Man Cookie Cutters:  I suggest you read the description....witty!

Mario Cake Pan

Pikachu Cake Pan

Duck Tales Remastered Press Kit GOLD CART 81 150 LIMITED EDITION NINTENDO

Duck Tales Remastered Press Kit w/GOLD CART 81/150 LIMITED EDITION NINTENDO

DuckTales Remastered Press Kit with Gold Cartridge!

One of the Rarest NES Games ever made! Only 150 made!

Own a piece of Nintendo history!  I was lucky enough to win one of the coveted Capcom Promo Kits for Ducktales Remastered by entering their singing contest!  I'm a huge DuckTales and Nintendo fan, but I'm by no means a collector and I feel like this bit of Nintendo history should go to someone who has a better collection!

Only 150 of these kits were made, making them one of the rarest official Nintendo games ever made! Capcom created these gold carts with the original DuckTales game and new cart art.  It comes in an awesome metal lunchbox filled with real shredded money and various inserts Capcom created. This is number 81/150!

Auction Here

Duck Tales Remastered Press Kit GOLD CART 81 150 LIMITED EDITION NINTENDO 4 300x300 Duck Tales Remastered Press Kit GOLD CART 81 150 LIMITED EDITION NINTENDO 5 300x300 Duck Tales Remastered Press Kit GOLD CART 81 150 LIMITED EDITION NINTENDO 2 281x300 Duck Tales Remastered Press Kit GOLD CART 81 150 LIMITED EDITION NINTENDO 3 300x225 Duck Tales Remastered Press Kit GOLD CART 81 150 LIMITED EDITION NINTENDO 300x223

Cigars, Zelda Bling & More

Cigars, Zelda Bling & More

It surprises me sometimes, even in the 90's, that Nintendo would put their logo on something as odd as a Cigar cutter.  Obviously, they were promoting Conker's Bad Fur Day, a game that was definitely not made with kids in mind, but with all the anti-tobacco initiatives and accusations that the companies were targeting children, you would think they would have taken on a bit of a different approach.  There aren't any currently listed, but they even had Nintendo brand cigars that were handed out as a promotion (yes, they were actual cigars--I bought two and shipped them to a friend who proceeded to be silly and used them....'very stale and cheap' I think were his words.)  I'm super confused by these Pokemon Cigar Bands as well...I kind of doubt they are licensed anyhow.  Not to be outdone, Sony has their own Cigar cutter and Match Set....

 

Zelda Link to the Past Pendant:  Some serious bling, it looks like this used to be sold at Hot Topic?  What a nifty necklace!  With all the Zelda merchandise going crazy lately, I figured I might as well feature something a little oddball.

Nintendo M3 ROB Store Display:  This is the cream of the crop as far as the M Series goes...very hard to find, this looks to be the third of these that has been auctioned in recent memory.

Gameboy Retail Flip Rack:  These are one of the few store displays I remember from Ames...oh how I miss Ames.

Deluxe GameBoy Kiosk:  One of the nicest GB Kiosks I have seen...they sure did make a lot of different ones!