It’s hard to believe, but online poker recently turned 20 years old. The very first online poker site, Planet Poker, launched in 1998.
Indeed, the online poker’s first hand was dealt January 1, 1998 at Planet Poker. After Planet Poker started operating, other competitors came into the market, first Paradise Poker and then sites like PokerStars and partypoker.
The real online poker boom kicked off in 2003, when Chris Moneymaker became the first person to win the World Series of Poker Main Event after qualifying at an online poker site. His story inspired many of poker’s biggest names and made the game what it is today.
However, what most of the players might not know, that it was actually IRC Poker what started the whole thing in the early 1990’s (as uspoker.com explains):
In the years leading up to the launch of Planet Poker, a group of hardcore poker players and enthusiasts would play something called IRC poker. IRC was short for Internet Relay Chat, a chat-room system created in the late 1980’s.
The IRC poker script was created by Todd Mummert and Greg Reynolds sometime in the early 1990’s.
IRC poker was free to play and looked like a written hand history. How it worked was, players would receive 1,000 chips per day and instead of clicking buttons, they’d type in their commands (very high tech), and action would move to the next player.
IRC had many limitations. Players would have to first best limit hold’em games if they wanted to play no-limit hold’em, and it couldn’t support multi-table tournaments, so as many as 23 people might be playing the same hand.
IRC may have been rudimentary, but you make do with what you have. Plus it gave Randy Blumer, Mike Caro, and some other early pioneers the inspiration to create a real-money online poker game.
While online poker has had also its darker periods, like the infamous Black Friday, the virtual tables are here to stay with the biggest sites expected to break records again this year with their massive prize pools.