Online Poker is a game where players use digital devices to play and wager money against each other. The game can be played for real cash or as play money and has been around since the 1990s. Today the majority of online poker traffic is centered on a handful of major networks including PokerStars, Full Tilt and the iPoker Network. Several hundred independent doorway or “skins” connect into these networks, but they are relatively low-traffic.
In 2006, the halcyon days of unregulated online poker were brought to a screeching halt with the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This law made it illegal for payment processors to process funds tied to online gambling and drove many sites out of the market. Those that remained were forced to adopt stricter anti-money laundering measures, making it more difficult for players to deposit and withdraw funds.
Despite these setbacks, many of the top sites remain in operation. The legal battles resulting from Black Friday and UIGEA have not yet been settled, but the poker landscape appears to be shifting in favor of the industry.
Players are increasingly embracing the idea of playing online poker professionally. More and more players have opted to quit their jobs or schooling and dedicate their time to the game, grinding hundreds of hours per month to scrounge up sums that could last them a lifetime. In this way, the most involved 1% of online poker players have devoted orders of magnitude more time and resources to the game than the remaining 99%.