A Timeline of Poker in the United States
From its inception in the early 1800s and for decades to follow, poker was known for its intimate in-person setting, with players positioned around a gaming table. Over the past 20 years, the iconic game has embraced technological advances. Online poker in the United States popped up in the late 1990s via the IRC (internet relay chat) format and opened up a new digital world for players that eventually led to the creation of Planet Poker, the first site to offer real money poker.
In the years to follow, more online poker sites were born and paved a new pathway to Las Vegas’ World Series of Poker. Online tournaments’ top prizes were a coveted seat at the main event. Once Chris Moneymaker not only won a seat via a PokerStars online satellite tournament, but became the 2003 WSOP Main Event champion, the digital poker boom erupted.
In the eight years to follow, more casual at-home players took their “talents” to the internet in hopes of becoming the next Moneymaker or Greg Raymer. As a result, more and more online poker sites were born to address the heavy demand. You could say poker enjoyed a renaissance during the first decade of the 21st century.
However, it was also short-lived. In April 2011, on what would become known as “Black Monday,” the federal government seized the three largest online poker site operators, PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute. The poker boom came to a screeching halt.
Black Friday forced offshore operators to step up their regulatory measures, which third-party authorities keep tabs on throughout the year. Only the top regulated sites manage to thrive in this online poker environment, such as the ones we recommend near the top of this page.