I first started playing online poker almost 10 years ago. It was very different then; there was no Poker Stars or Full Tilt Poker, and there were fewer players. After all this was before Chris Moneymaker turned a $40 punt into millions at the WSOP, and thereby starting the online poker boom – for which he is credited. Indeed, many of today’s online poker players fall into two camps “pre-Moneymaker” and “post-Moneymaker”. I’m in the pre-camp and I know I’m outnumbered – but that’s fine with me.
How has the online poker landscape changed in the last decade? Well for a start Planet Poker is no longer in business, and Paradise poker, once the biggest online poker site, is now a pathetic shadow of its former self – as a skin site on the Boss Poker Network. The whole concept of poker skins and networks is something that poker players are now very familiar with, but this is only a fairly recent change. I actually think there are some really excellent networks (and some really poor ones too), but the big boys are still independents – just like they used to be. It’s almost impossible now to launch a fully independent online poker room without being part of a network. There’s just too much competition.
Is online poker as much fun? This is something I’m not so sure about. I’m probably looking back through rose tinted glasses, and remembering the good stuff…like typing “doh” in the Planet Poker chat box made a sound similar to Homer Simpson (oh what laughter!). Nobody talks these days as there too busy multi-tabling. I’m forgetting the frequent crashes and software problems of course. Indeed, it was the software problems that led to the demise of planet poker. RIP Planet Poker – it was fun while it lasted.
There have been huge improvements in the gameplay, the software, and the security of online poker rooms over the past few years. And let’s not forget third party software is now in abundance too, and there’s widespread use of data mining software. I’m not a fan of this though – I preferred it how it was, but I’m resigned to the fact that data mining is here to stay, sadly.
Along with the quantity, the quality of players has definitely increased over the last few years, and I think it’s fair to credit sites like Cardrunners for this. The games are tougher, there’s no doubt about that. Of course I prefer softer games, but cannot complain – since the people who take the time to learn how to play poker and dedicate themselves to the game will always improve, compared with a lazy players who are unwilling to change and adapt to the new landscape.
Oh, and 10 years ago there was no UIGEA – but that’s too depressing to talk about. Another time!