How Poker Became Its Own Variety of Social Media
Although it is believed that poker originated in the USA in the early 19th century, it wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that it started becoming a popular pastime. It was at this stage that the online “poker boom” occurred, and the Texas Hold’em variant of the game took the world by storm. Now, it is estimated that 40 million people play poker regularly, and 2.6 percent of the adult population play online for real money. Poker is an enjoyable hobby, and for some, a viable way to earn money. It is a great way for players to meet and chat and has become a way of social networking online. Let’s examine how this game of skill and bluffing turned into such a popular activity worldwide, and also why it is now arguably a form of social media.
How Poker Became Popular Online
The poker boom occurred between 2003 and 2006, during which time the number of online poker players doubled in size each year. The cult classic poker film Rounders, which starred Matt Damon as a professional card shark and John Malkovich as the antagonist, has been accredited with sowing the seeds of the poker boom in 1998. Up to that point, there had been few movies based on the game, and director John Dahl noticed an opportunity to create a highly original picture. The film helped audiences understand the game of poker because it used the Texas Hold’em variant which is often seen as the easiest form to get to grips with.
Online poker was also helped by the fact that by the mid 2000s, internet connection speeds were vastly improved in most of the western world. Broadband internet allowed people to do things much faster than they had been able to with a dialup connection, and this was imperative for online poker which required users to be able to make quick decisions. In 2002, there were fewer than 200,000 broadband users, but by 2006 this number had increased to 13 million. This was down to the fact that players realized they could play fast paced games online without the risk of the internet crashing or freezing.
In addition to this, poker was televised much more frequently, with the 2003 World Poker Tour debuting on the Travel Channel on American cable TV. At this time, players like Chris Moneymaker helped increase the hype. The 2003 World Series of Poker winner earned his seat at the paramount poker competition by winning an online tournament first. This made people realize that just about anybody could go on to become a poker pro if they put in the time and effort. In fact, another name for the poker boom was “the Moneymaker effect”.
The Current State of Online Poker
In 2018, online poker is showing no signs of slowing down. Online poker sites have over one million players enjoying regular tournaments and cash games. And while Texas Hold’em helped to bring the game to the masses around the turn of the century, there are now many more variations of the game being enjoyed by players. For instance, the desktop version of 888poker offers players the chance to play Omaha Hi-Lo and 7 Card Stud, among other variants, and also gives them the opportunity to choose between sit and gos and multi-table tournaments. New additions to the game include Snap Poker, which is extremely fast paced, Poker Chat, where players can enjoy some banter with others at the table, and Pokercam, which is an exclusive feature on 8888 that allows players to see who they are up against.
Those who are intrigued by these innovative features can read more at the official site. Online poker is improving year after year, with new features like these being added to games to make them more engaging and interactive.
Why Online Poker is Similar to Social Media
While around one-sixth of the world’s population uses Facebook, there are other social networking sites like Instagram and Twitter which also pull in high numbers of users. In fact, Instagram has almost reached 1 billion users thanks to its popularity skyrocketing after the Facebook takeover in 2012. The common feature of all these sites is being able to communicate with others, no matter where you are in the world. With online poker offering chat features, players are able to enjoy this social function while at the same time playing the game they love, while many online poker rooms allow users to have avatars and profiles showcasing their accomplishments. In this sense, for poker fanatics, online poker sites trump the likes of Facebook and Instagram.
This could be set to improve even further in the near future as virtual reality takes the world by storm. By 2021 the projected revenue from AR and VR is an astonishing $215 billion. This suggests that a lot of the internet as we know it will move to incorporating VR, in the same way that the past few decades saw a trend for images instead of text. This would be ideal for poker and would help boost it as its own form of social media. Players would be able to sit around a table with other people from all over the world, conversing and playing cards.
Sharing photos and writing statuses isn’t for everyone, but Instagram and Facebook have shown that the world is hungry for online social interaction. Poker sites should take advantage of this fact and use even more social features going forward, as it will help the online poker scene flourish even further. With VR set to explode in the next few years, these are exciting times for those who like to get their social fix at the tables while playing poker.