Poker

The Dice Game That Is Becoming Just As Popular As Poker – Sic Bo

As if the fruit machine fraternity hasn’t been shaken enough by the news that Macau, a former Portuguese colony in China, has overtaken Las Vegas as the global centre of gambling, there’s a strong rumour that Sic Bo online is about to outdo poker in the popularity stakes! But what is it? Where did it come from? And should we know how to play Sic Bo?

Sic Bo Online And Off

As you’ve probably guessed, Sic Bo or rather “See Bo”, hails from Ancient China where it was invented by Chinese bricklayers who liked to play it during their tea breaks. Combatants in martial arts soon took up the habit when pausing between sparring sessions. Chinese migrants transported it to America in the early 1900’s but it wasn’t officially recognised as a table game until 2002 and now you can play Sic Bo online at any of your favourite casinos. You might already have come across it in games such as Hi-Lo, Chuck-A-Luck or Grand Hazard in addition to the card game baccarat. Some formats of Sic Bo use symbols instead of numbers.

How To Play Sic Bo

Sic Bo is obviously a game that’s fast and furious and can be played in a hurry even while you’re supposed to be doing something else. You can learn how to play in seconds. Three dice are placed in a bowl, shaken and tipped out, then check the outcome to see if you’ve won. And that’s all there is to the Sic Bo rules! The allure of the game actually comes from the betting opportunities that are based on the various combinations.

Simple Sic Bo Strategy

With versatile Sic Bo, you can bet on a single number, a double with two numbers matching or a triple where three numbers are the same. Sic Bo strategy involves betting on Small, Big or Combination results. Winnings are based on probability and in a similar way to roulette, you can put as many different bets as you want. When betting on the three dice total the outcome can be between 4 and 17. Numbers 3 and 18 are accounted for through the straightforward triple numbers. The Sic Bo odds of predicting a total of 4 is roughly 60 to 1 whereas hoping for a particular treble is set at 260 to 1.

Small And Big In Sic Bo Rules

The totals of the three dice are divided into two halves. Small covers 4 to 10 while Big covers 11 to 17. As in the black and red wagers of roulette, Small and Big represent evens. Another similarity with zero in roulette is that if triple one or six are thrown, the bets are lost. Small and Big wagers are best suited to beginners as they are a low risk strategy on account of being similar to evens. They can often be integrated into a betting system such as Paroli which concentrates on increasing the size of a bet after a win.

Combination In Sic Bo Rules

Combination bets are predicting that two particular numbers will be the result of a throw. Betting on 2 and 4 is a win if they appear on two of the dice. Winnings are placed at 6 to 1 with the house edge at approximately 2.7% which is in the player’s favour. Other combinations such as 4 and 15 can have a house edge of up to 35%.

Sic Bo – Skill Or Luck?

Sic Bo is a game of pure chance and in this respect is very similar to baccarat and roulette. It is easy to play, takes up very little time and is rather compelling. You can even play a few turns while having a break from a gruelling online poker session. A player cannot influence the outcome of the result and is at the mercy of fate unlike in poker which relies heavily on the personality of a player to cause reactions in others. Sic Bo is unlikely to replace poker in online players’ affections but as an extra dimension to their repertoire it will no doubt be just as popular.

Roulette

Take a Break from Poker and Try Your Chances with Roulette

Roulette is one of the easiest casino games to get into and is sure to provide quite a thrill for anyone who is looking to try something new. Simply pick a number and watch the ball as it spins around the large wheel. Waiting to see which number the ball will land on can be very exciting and people who have nerves of steel and seek instant gratification are likely to find that this game matches their gaming style. Read on to find out more about this classic casino game including the roulette rules and how to play the game.

How to Play Roulette

Roulette is played on a large wheel that is divided into different sections with a number on each section. The numbered sections are coloured alternately red and black with a green section for the number 0. The dealer gently spins the wheel in one direction and then spins a small ball in the opposite direction around a slightly tilted track that runs all the way around the outer edge of the roulette wheel. Players have to decide in advance where they think the ball will land and place their bets accordingly.

Making Your Bet

In addition to betting on a single number, there are several other types of roulette bets that can be placed. The amount of money that players stand to win depends on the odds of winning. For example, players who simply choose to bet on red or black with no specific number have the highest odds of winning, therefore they win will be lowest amount of money if their colour comes up. It is also possible to bet on specified groups of numbers or simply low or high. People who bet on high will win if the ball lands on a number between 19 and 36, while those who bet on low will win if the ball falls on a number between 1 and 18. The different roulette tables usually come with pre-set minimum and maximum bets, so players should take a look around first to find the table that matches their betting style.

Discovering the Different Types of Roulette

A number of different variations on the classic roulette game have been created over the years to help keep play feeling fresh and exciting. European roulette is also sometimes referred to as French roulette and is the most popular version of the game. Immersive roulette is a modern variation that is often offered in online casinos and features a number of camera angles to help put remote players in the picture as well as slow motion replays and other cool features. People who want to double their chances of winning should look out for double ball roulette, while each round of speed roulette takes just 25 seconds.

Enjoy Roulette Online

Roulette is so popular that this game can be found in virtually every online casino. European and American roulette are commonly offered in online casinos, although there are several other variations to choose from, depending on the casino in question. Some online casinos come complete with dedicated roulette rooms where players will find a large number of different types of roulette games and tables to try their luck on and it may even be possible for new players to play a practice game or two free of charge.

Live Dealer Roulette

People who want to be able to experience the vibrancy of being in an actual land based casino from the comfort of their own home are sure to love live dealer roulette. The game is set in a real casino, with an actual dealer spinning the wheel. The action of live dealer roulette takes place in real time via footage that is filmed in the casino and streamed to players of the online casino. Players can place their bets in the usual way and interact with the dealer through the live chat function of the game.

Try Your Luck in a UK Online Casino

People who want to get in on the fun of roulette will find that there are endless opportunities. In fact, each and every UK online casino comes complete with its own version of live dealer roulette, which is typically streamed live from London. Most of these online casinos allow potential customers to take a virtual tour before they commit to playing and with a number of excellent deals waiting to be enjoyed by new gamers, it is a good idea to take a look at the different options before deciding where to spin the wheel.

Poker

Outplaying professional Poker players with artificial intelligence – Is technology officially taking over?

The game of poker has just a few simple rules, but it can be fiendishly complex to play. The big challenge of poker is working out what to do in the absence of vital information. You cannot see what is in your opponent’s hand, and you cannot know which cards will be dealt next. Some expert players succeed against the odds, even though so many factors remain unknown. It’s not just the element of strategy that experienced players bring to the game, it’s also their grasp of human psychology. They can read a range of tells, and they can bluff other players, while calculating the odds of each hand. Even in online poker games, professional players can interpret a host of subtle signs to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition round the table. For a long time, it was thought that artificial intelligence, or AI, could never match the skill and sophistication of professional poker players. It seems now, however, that the power of AI is beginning to challenge the supremacy of human players after all.

Introducing Libratus software – The system that can outsmart even the best human players

Scientists have been working on a new poker AI that is designed to learn from its mistakes. It is called Libratus and was created at Carnegie Mellon University with the aim of figuring out how to beat human players at no-limit Texas Hold’em poker. This popular poker variety was chosen because it blends short term calculations with long-term strategies in a highly complex way. Human players make decisions such as how much to raise, or when to bluff, in ways that are not necessarily logical, and therefore very hard to predict. Libratus was programmed to play against itself and review its performance. This way, the system’s skills and strategies are designed to evolve gradually and continuously, making it better and better as time goes on. In recent trials with some of the best professional players in the world, Libratus achieved a decisive victory over its human opponents.

What is Libratus AI, and what can it do?

Computer programmes for poker players have been around for a long time, but the Libratus software takes AI to a whole new level. Its secret lies in the ability to deploy several technologies simultaneously over the course of a tournament. One system will calculate the strength of the player’s hand at each round of play, while another will devise end-game strategies to improve both the chances of winning, and the value of the chips that are won. Combining these different types of software, and a facility for reviewing and learning from past hands, gives the Libratus software an edge over human players.

Is it possible to play online poker with Libratus right now?

You might think that Libratus would be an ideal tool to use when playing online poker. Who wouldn’t want to use a very smart AI package that can beat the world’s best poker champions? The truth is, however, that the Libratus software has a great deal to offer at the theoretical level. It could be used to devise training aids, for example, which could help players analyse their weaknesses and improve their skills. Unfortunately, at the practical level, this sophisticated software is not coming to an online poker platform anytime soon. The astronomical computing power required to run the software makes it far too costly for anyone operating outside major research computing labs. Also, the use of software for online poker in the UK is governed by strict rules, for obvious reasons. It remains to be seen what future developments will emerge from the work on this programme so far, but it is likely that applications in other areas of complex decision making will follow very soon. For now, you can’t play poker with or against Libratus, but it’s still an awesome achievement that demonstrates just how smart poker AI has become today.

Casino

Security is no Gambling Matter – How to Stay Safe Online

‘Is it safe?’ This question is a common one, and an important one when thinking about joining an online casino. The anonymity of the internet has its plus sides, but it has also generated a rational fear. Cybercriminals like hackers and identity thieves continue to thrive in this internet age, which has made people wary when making transactions online.

When it comes to casinos, you must also consider the possibility of rogue operations. It is not uncommon to hear players lose all their money because a casino was shut down for lack of proper licensing. Others are accused of slow or no payouts. When you think about such risks, it is easy to get discouraged, but fortunately, safe casino sites are not a myth. You can find a place to play online poker without worrying about your bank balance every time you log out. Players should learn the threats lurking in the online gambling industry and how to stay safe, but if you feel that the information here (and onward) is too much to take in you can always let a third party do the leg work. Casino comparison services like topcasinosites.co.uk can be a great resource that takes a lot of time consuming research out of the process.

Do your Due Diligence

You are the first one to set the safety standards for UK online casinos. Don’t start gambling in the first place that offers enticing bonuses and promises fair play. Take the time to research a casino thoroughly; it must be worth it. Several elements will tell you how safe a web-based casino is, and these include the following.

Reputation- the way other players talk about a particular casino says a lot about their practices. Find testimonials and reviews from objective sites. Don’t use sites that pay reviewers. Also, find out if a review site has any affiliation with any particular gambling operation. Find forums on online casinos and engage with the members to learn more about certain platforms.

Age- how long has a casino been in business? The age of an operation contributes towards its reputation. It is difficult to find all the information you need about a casino that has only been operational for several months.

Games- safe poker rooms are characterised by the fairness of their games. Before you begin playing, ask if the games have undergone testing and if they meet the required standards of fairness.

Learn about Jurisdiction and Licensing

The beauty of web-based casinos is that they cater to a global audience. Where you are playing from will determine the gambling laws you are subjected to. Players should always check if online casinos are legal in their regions. Casinos are governed by various bodies, which you must know about before entrusting your money. Safe casino sites are those that have authorisation from one of these agencies. The FCA, CySEC or other internationally recognised financial regulatory bodies, for example, can regulate UK online casinos.

Don’t just take the word of the casino when it says it is regulated. Look up its registration number from the governing agency. Check the licensing to guarantee that it is legitimate. The point of using a regulated casino is the assurance that an independent organisation is responsible for overseeing its operations. Regulatory bodies have codes of conduct that casinos must stick to. They also ensure that casinos take good care of customer funds. Casinos do this by segregating customer money in authorised financial institutions. Regulatory standards also require casinos to work with approved 3rd parties to provide the gaming software, merchant and payment services. Players should be particularly careful of offshore casinos because most of them don’t have proper regulations.

Don’t Overlook the Terms and Conditions

Reading all the terms and conditions of UK online casinos may seem a bit daunting but don’t neglect it. You can lose money and start blaming the casino when in truth it was explained in the agreement. When you log in to a web-based casino and deposit money, you have entered into an agreement with the company. Some casinos bank on players not reading the terms to fleece them.

The agreement will include elements like where the casino keeps its money, the types of bonuses it offers, the odds of tables, payout terms, banning of players and so on. You can read T&Cs of several sites so that you have an understanding of what is considered fair. That way you know when a casino is robbing its players.

Don’t forget the privacy policy as well. The numerous transactions you will be making in online poker rooms require you submit detailed personal data. Know how a casino keeps that information safe and who gets access to it.

A bit of research can save you a lot of trouble when gambling online. Despite the stories of casino scams you see on forums, there are safe casino sites that will give you value for money; it just takes patience to find the right one.

Poker

Online poker vs land-based casinos – why it’s more exciting to play online in the UK

When online casinos first hit our screens over two decades ago, some gamblers were skeptical. They believed that a computerised version of poker or roulette could never capture the atmosphere that you get in a land based casino. How wrong they were.

Five reasons why online casino poker at UK poker sites is better than playing in a bricks and mortar casino

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does represent what for many gamblers are the key motivations for choosing online poker over a game in their local establishment.

1. You get a truly international flavour online

Unless you are lucky enough to be able to fly to Macau whenever you want to have a flutter on the roulette wheel, if you do not gamble online you will be limited to your local casinos. Walk through those doors and you will see the same faces every time: poker players making the same moves, and the same old talk around the table. For some gamblers, this is part of the charm of a land based casino, however online casinos liven things up considerably by giving games an international flair. When you sit down at the poker table in a virtual casino, you will be playing against gamblers from right across the globe. And if you want to switch things up and play with a different crowd – just log on to a new casino.

2. Online poker bonus culture is like no other

Online gambling provides you with a wealth of bonuses that you quite simply cannot access in land based casinos. These bonuses include:

  • Free spins
  • Deposit multipliers
  • Free trials of VIP account status
  • Games without a deposit
  • Free withdrawals

…and it seems that new kinds of bonuses are being invented every month.

3. Online casinos let your imaginations go wild

From creative graphics that let you play poker with wizards to live dealer games featuring casino staff dressed up as characters from your favourite film: online casinos know how to have fun!

4. The range of games is much better in an online casino

Only a very few of the top international land based casinos will be able to provide you with as many different casino games in one place as online casinos do. Whether you want to spend 5 minutes with a scratch card, or sit down for an intense game of Crazy Pineapple Poker, play roulette with the best, or while away half an hour on the video slot machines, you can move effortlessly between both modern and traditional casino games when you choose to play online. We have plenty of articles explaining the rules of different casino games (including Pineapple Poker and all of its variants, and roulette), so do check them out if you want to brush up your knowledge.

5. Online casinos are so innovative

Virtual reality technology, video streaming, and an element of social networking (think 3D avatars which enable you to pull up a seat at the casino’s virtual bar with your fellow gamblers and enjoy a whiskey or two after a game) all make online gambling exciting from a technological point of view. Online casinos have now moved way beyond simply replicating the immersive, three dimensional atmosphere that you can soak up in a land based casino. Nowadays, online casinos are achieving feats that quite simply can’t be achieved in ‘real life’. Technology is opening pathways that we couldn’t have believed possible in our wildest dreams when we were sitting in those little local casinos three decades ago, waiting (though we didn’t know it at the time) for online gambling to arrive.

Which do you prefer?

This discussion of live vs online poker will at least have provided you with some food for debate. Perhaps it is time for land based casinos to show us what they are made of, and to start trying to match online casinos in terms of innovation and international outlook.

Poker

Independent Chip Model Poker – the Real Money Value of Your Tournament Chips

When playing poker, it is important to be aware of the total value of your chips. One method of doing this is through the independent chip model. Whilst you may have heard of this term, what does this mean and how does this calculate the total value of your chips? And more importantly, what does this mean for your poker game and how might you use it to your advantage when you are playing in a tournament game? At a basic level, the independent chip model (which is sometimes known as the ICM poker term) is a method which any player can use to calculate exactly what their chips are worth in a poker tournament game.

In a tournament game, calculating the total value of your chips will depend upon two important factors. Firstly, the value of the chips depends on the total number of chips which are in play at that particular time point. Secondly, the total value will depend upon the distribution of the total prize pool within that game. Where a player has a certain number of chips, the relative value of those chips will be higher when the total available prize pool is a low number. For example, when a player holds 50 chips from an available total of 500, their chips are worth more than when the total prize pool available is a much larger total of 5,000 chips. Secondly, the prize structure itself can also affect the total value of a player’s chips. For example, if a player holds 50 chips from an available total of 500 and is within a tournament of eight remaining players, where only the winner is paid, then the 50 chips will only have a low value. This is due to the relatively low chance of the player winning the overall tournament. However, if there were still eight players left in the game and the prize structure of the game provided equal payouts for the first seven players, then there is a greater chance of winning money and the player’s chips are therefore worth far more money than they are in a winner-takes-all scenario. The independent chip model can however work out your prize pool equity in a given scenario.

So how does the independent chip model calculate the equity value? The independent chip model uses both the payout structure and the total stack size of all the remaining players within the game to work out the probability of each player’s finishing position. This is then multiplied with the payout for each of the finishing positions. For the player in first place, the probability is calculated by dividing the number of chips by the total amount of chips which are in play. Whilst this is simple calculation for the player in first place, the probability of finishing second, third and lower relies on a series of complex mathematical calculations, where to calculate the probability of finishing tenth or lower requires millions of steps to arrive at the correct value. Although the underlying mathematical calculations are very complicated, there is an excellent variety of ICM calculators online which can be used by players and require the player to provide simple values.

So why is the independent chip model important and how can it be used to your advantage within a tournament game? Although the ICM can’t be used at the table, players who have an underlying knowledge of the model can improve their game by training and therfore getting into the routine of reacting to situations in the most advantageous way possible. Most players find ICM to be particularly useful when they are in bubble situations and need to calculate whether they should risk their chips. In other words, this can help a player decide whether they should call, or fold. Rather than concentrating on the number of tournament chips which can be won by calling in a bubble situation, the independent chip model calculates whether calling will increase the value of the prize pool equity by assessing whether this strategy is likely to be advantageous in the long run. The player is given a percentage value of equity which can be used to indicate whether the stack will increase, or whether the player will instead completely lose all of the chips, in a particular tournament situation. In a bubble situation, this percentage value can be used to show the player if the total prize pool equity actually decreases by calling. If this is the case, then a player should fold, but if the total prize pool equity instead increases by calling, then it is more advantageous for the player to call. Whilst ICM is an excellent tool when used correctly, it is important that players keep in mind that ICM can’t mathematically account for other important factors including luck, or the skill level of the other players around the table. However, the independent chip model can be particularly effective when used against novice players who do not yet have a full understanding of what their chips are actually worth in the long run. Now that you are aware of the ICM poker strategy, why not try it in your next tournament game?

Poker

The Day Online Poker Died in the US – Black Friday Explained

April 15th, 2011, a date dubbed ‘Black Friday’ in the world of online poker. It was a day that halted online poker gambling in the United States, halting the poker boom that had started in the early 2000’s.

On October 13th, 2006, U.S. Congress passed the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006’, which made it an offense, punishable by up to five years in prison, for a gambling business to “knowingly accept” payments “in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful internet gambling. Whilst this did not prevent players from playing online poker, it did make it an offense for businesses to transfer money to and from gambling sites. Whilst some companies pulled out of the U.S., others such as Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars remained, allowing players to deposit and withdraw money whilst playing online poker. There was no specific mention of online poker when in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. More specifically, it only mentioned online sports betting. It was this that formed the basis of the defense for companies involved in online poker gambling. Following the indictment some 5 years later, any profits made by the companies after the law was passed were determined to have been illegally gained.

The Day Online Poker Died.

On the afternoon of the April 15th, 2011 reports of the indictment and civil complaints began to circulate. As well as being charged under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, there were additional charges of money laundering, bank fraud, and illegal gambling, which served to reinforce the gravity of the situation. Restraining orders against 75 bank accounts used by the poker companies, and the seizure of five domain names brought an abrupt end to the world of online poker in the U.S. Black Friday Poker in the U.S. left players either locked out of their accounts or only able to play for fun and not real cash.

Over the coming days and weeks, there was uncertainty amongst U.S. players as to whether they would be able to withdraw the money they held with the online poker companies. In the meantime, some of the online companies continued to operate under a .eu domain name to all but American based players.

Full Tilt Poker was suddenly shut down worldwide after their gambling licence was suspended by the Aldernay Gambling Control Committee. September brought the biggest shock of all to the online poker community after Full Tilt Poker was alleged to be a global Ponzi scheme, with its owners defrauding players. The deception is believed to have gone even further than just the online poker sites, there were claims that small banks accepted monetary bribes for their part in the deception.

The controversy that followed Black Friday resulted in a massive monetary loss. TV channels and tournaments in the U.S. lost sponsorship deals, and billions of dollars of player’s money was left in limbo. With the online poker sites no longer available, professional players were forced into using unreliable black market sites or risky live games.

Convictions.

Absolute Poker co-founder Brent Buckley pleaded guilty to misleading banks. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail. John Campos pleaded guilty to one charge of a gambling misdemeanor. He was sentenced to three months in jail following his involvement in Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker.

Six Years On.

April 15th, 2011 saw the Department of Justice cripple a stable and growing market in a matter of hours. Since then, the world of poker has never been the same.

Six years on from Black Friday, online poker sites in the U.S. remain modest with players having limited options restricted to just three states. Serious professional poker players who play for a living have long since realised that in order to be able to play poker online, they will have to go abroad. Those that remain have moved over to the live realm. Since Black Friday, bricks and mortar casino’s have seen a sharp rise in poker players and have thrived as a result.

Poker

Poker playing AI Program Bests Professionals

Computer scientists have been testing the realms of artificial intelligence by pitting it against humans. They have been successful in creating programs that are better than humans in games such as backgammon, go and chess. Poker, however, is one game that AI experts have been unable to crack, until now. Libratus, created by Professor Tuomas Sandholm of Carnegie Mellon University and his computer science Ph.D. student, Noam Brown, is the first AI software to beat the world’s top professional poker players. The 20-day tournament started on January 10 at the River Casino, Pittsburgh. Four of the best online poker players in the globe went against the Libratus poker playing application to test its ability.

Growth of Poker Bots

Poker playing algorithms have been difficult to perfect because poker is considered a human-oriented game. It is characterised by what is called imperfect information, meaning the software doesn’t operate with all the facts. Players don’t have the luxury of seeing each other’s hands in poker, unlike games such as chess or checkers where everyone has a view of the board.

Then there is the deception involved in playing online poker. Players use misleading information to get reactions from their opponents. Artificial intelligence doesn’t have the means to detect and interpret bluffs. Tuomas Sandholm cited this as one of the biggest challenges for AI researchers. Even as Libratus entered the 2017 “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” competition, experts did not have a lot of expectations for it. Sandholm and Brown had another application in 2015 that lost in the same tournament.

The two researchers spent the time to enhance the capabilities of the predecessor, Claudico to create the superpower poker AI, Libratus. Heads Up, no-limit Texas Hold’em was the game and the humans lost by a combined $1,766,250 in chips, luckily, they were not playing with real money. Libratus had received improvements to its algorithm on how to interpret imperfect information, not to mention the fact that it had a higher computing power than the original software. It was developed with strategic reasoning, which enabled it to analyse moves and come up with tactical responses. Sandholm explains that he did not teach it how to do that. He just gave it the rules of playing poker, and it had to learn the rest.

When an AI beats no-limit poker players by such a sizable margin like Libratus did, it forces professionals to analyse its strategies to learn a few things. One lesson was the aggressive approach of the program to the game. Libratus was willing to make big bets for small prizes. Of course, such moves would be suicidal for human players, but the tactic does provide some advantage. It requires players to remain alert to what the machine will do next.

A Poker AI Playing

Libratus was playing eight hands in total with each player holding two. It played at a slow pace and an even slower one on small pots. With more chips still in hand, the program had more possibilities to consider, hence the deliberate speed. The software does play a different version of the game, though. Instead of matching a group of players to a single computer, the machine only gets one. After every hand, the system resets the number of chips so that one player doesn’t end up with a huge stack of chips.

Another huge factor that plays into the whole debate is that a poker AI program doesn’t have to rest like normal players. For example, in the tournament that lasted the better part of a month, the human participants went on until after 10 in the evening, which means they needed plenty of rest for the next round. As the humans took breaks to eat and sleep, Libratus was busy analysing the players’ strategies and perfecting its algorithm using the computer at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

The news of AI beats no-limit poker is not just significant for the gambling world but other industries as well. Poker playing artificial intelligence should prove useful in sectors such as business and healthcare. The algorithm that allows the AI to make decisions using imperfect information can help companies in negotiating deals and medical practitioners in recommending treatment plans.

Poker bots are not a new concept, but they have not been very effective before. Most of the applications on the market have only been good for low stakes games. With the success of the Libratus poker playing software, professional players may have something to be worried about like the fact that the bots may ruin real money online poker. However, with the right application, they could prove profitable for casino operators.

Poker

Brief History and Guide to Online Poker Networks

Online poker began in earnest in the late 1990s, and has been growing in popularity ever since. The first real online poker site to exist was Planet Poker, which started offering real money poker games in 1998. The first poker game online involving real money was dealt out on Planet Poker on January 1st, 1998 – a momentous occasion. One key milestone has been the introduction of live dealer poker, which uses video streaming technology – this occurred in around 2008 and (again) has been increasing in popularity as it provides online gamblers with the buzz that they get from a land based casino. Online poker networks have historically been a large part of the online poker world. Here you can find out all about them: their history, how they work and how to do your research so you know which network to choose.

A brief history of online poker networks

The first online poker network was established in 2001. This network was created by Dobrosoft and included two ‘skins’ (i.e. separate poker communities): America’s Cardroom and Fabulous Poker. After this, several key networks began to spring up, including OnGame (which created PokerRoom in 2002) and Party Poker (which opened its network in 2004). A critical date in the history of online poker networks in 2006. In this year, a law known as the UIGEA was passed which placed great restrictions on the online poker market and caused several networks to stop running. Only a few networks survived, and these include 888, Ongame, Boss Media and Extraction. 888 remains one of the biggest poker networks in the world today, whilst Ongame and Extraction closed in 2014 and 2012 respectively. In 2014, Boss Media partially closed, but at least it paid its players – unlike the Cereus Poker Network which was indicted in 2011 (three years after its creation) and which failed to pay its players the amounts outstanding in their accounts.

Online poker traffic: how the networks work

Essentially, in the world of online poker, there can be several different online poker sites but they can all be part of the same network. In fact, there are around 60 online poker platforms in the world. Where a platform is independent, it operates as a closed unit: only players that belong to that platform will be part of the platform’s player pool. Other platforms are part of a network. A network consists of several platforms that are joined up together. When this is the case, players are part of a much larger poker pool, involving players from all the platforms involved in the network. Though the individual skins or poker sites will handle players’ payments, the way in which all of the different sites in a network operate will be relatively homogeneous because they will be centrally governed by the owner of the network. This means that when you are researching online poker sites, you should research an individual site and how it operates, but you should also find out whether it belongs to a wider network and analyse how that network operates too. Is the network reliable?

Poker networks today

The three biggest poker networks (known as ‘the top three’) are 888 Poker, Bodog and iPoker. They have survived numerous changes in the world of online poker. It is likely that they will survive well into the future, too, as other networks spring up and dissolve, and as the increase in interest in online poker continues to slow down slightly. These three networks are thus good ones to work with. Experts predict that the future of online poker will be marked by consolidation: i.e. individual skins will merge with larger poker networks, especially with the big three networks mentioned earlier. This might mean an independent skin relinquishing its independence to join a network, or it might involve a skin that was part of a smaller and less stable network joining iPoker, Bodog or 88 Poker (or another large network such as Poker Stars, which is currently dominating the world market) instead. What does this mean for you, as an online poker player? To avoid losing money due to the closure of a site that you play on, choose to play poker on sites that are part of one of the big three poker networks.