While online poker has been around for decades, it has only recently become legal in the United States. The first sites began appearing in the late 1990s and a thriving unregulated market grew following Chris Moneymaker’s World Series of Poker victory in 2003. However, in 2005 the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act made several sites illegal, but some sites such as PokerStars still operated legally in the United States and were accessible to U.S. players.
Today there are more than 600 poker networks worldwide, but only about forty of them have detectable traffic. Of those, a few major networks handle the vast majority of online poker traffic. The biggest US networks are the most popular, with many players flocking to these networks. But how do these different networks differ? The key difference is in how they reward players. Some networks are smaller than others, while others offer larger player pools and more traffic. Nonetheless, online poker sites can still be lucrative for the right players.
While some sites cater to all players, others are more targeted at recreational players. For example, full-time professionals can find a home at PokerStars, but beginners can find plenty of opportunities to practice their tactics and learn the game without putting too much of their money at stake. Bet365 and Bovada both feature a beginners’ table, free from more advanced players. Beginners should opt for this option if they don’t want to play against pro players.