Online poker is a form of the card game played over the Internet for real money. The game is regulated in states where it’s legal and players must be at least 18 or 21 years old to participate. It is also a largely illegal activity in some jurisdictions, so you should check your local laws before playing. Real-money poker sites are usually safe and highly regulated, but some may have issues with banking options or security features.
Before online poker became popular, most of the world’s poker was played in smoke-filled bars and casinos. It was a game of skill and social interaction rather than chance and luck, and it wasn’t until Chris Moneymaker qualified for the World Series of Poker Main Event by winning an online tournament in 2003 that people really began to take the game seriously.
Since then, the game has taken off, especially since Black Friday in 2006 when Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and forced a number of major poker sites to close their doors to U.S. customers. But the industry persevered and a new generation of poker players took up the game, and as technology improved more secure sites opened that could safely hold players’ cash and protect their privacy.
As the popularity of online poker grew, so too did its profitability. Many players who play the game for fun and for a challenge find it rewarding when they win large sums of money. Some even pursue the game professionally and make a living from it.
The best online poker websites offer competitive games, top-notch software and reliable customer support. They also provide rakebacks, which can make a big difference for break-even players. For example, GPoker offers up to 60% rakeback for their players, which can add up quickly.
When choosing an online poker site, look for a website that has a large player pool. This will ensure that there are enough players to keep the action moving at all times. The game selection and buy-ins should also be considered, as well as the rake and other fees.
The table software should be easy to use and visually appealing, with large, clearly labeled buttons for betting and an uncluttered interface that makes it easy to focus on the game. A good online poker site will also have a variety of payment methods and offer a reliable customer support team.
When looking for a online poker website, read reviews to determine whether it is reputable. Choose a site that has a high level of customer service and provides helpful resources, such as tutorials and FAQ pages. The website should also have an SSL encryption to safeguard your personal information and financial transactions. Be wary of online poker sites that don’t use a SSL certificate, as they operate without basic consumer safeguards and may not be safe to play in your country. Some of these sites are also prone to scamming and fraud.