Poker’s Rise to Prominence

Poker has been around for more than a century, but it’s really only in the last ten years that the game really saw a spike in popularity. So what’s changed to influence this popularity and where did the game come from to enjoy such popularity?

While the origins of the game of poker are somewhat murky, with links to the Persian game of As Nas and the French game of poque, it is known to have really started to gain ground in the early 19th century along the Mississippi River, with a variety of forms of the game being played on riverboats where gambling was a common past-time.

Throughout the American Civil War and continuing after, variations such as stud poker, wild cards, and community card poker were all introduced tot he game. In Las Vegas, regular tournaments were held in an attempt to draw players willing to play in high-stakes games, but they invariably failed to draw the crowds and money players that were desired, despite the upgrading of casinos to accommodate these players. In the mid 20th century poker tournaments, including the World Series of Poker (WSOP), began in American casinos, finally drawing the type of player that they had desired. The game also started to show up regularly in popular culture, including television shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and in films like Rounders.

In the 21st century the game saw a huge spike in popularity for a number of reasons. The introduction of online poker allowed anybody to play the game from the comfort of their own homes without the need to put together a group to play or travel to a casino. Also, poker tournaments being televised, along with hold-card cameras, turned poker into something of a spectator sport, with the Texas Hold ‘Em variety of the game benefiting in particular as it has become the most widely played version, especially at the WSOP.

With smartphones and tablets now being nearly ubiquitous, even more people are playing poker than ever before thanks to the availability of free apps to play anywhere or any time. Online poker players can even win seats at major tournaments now, with Chris Moneymaker arguably being the most famous thanks to his 2003 World Series of Poker championship win after winning an online tournament.

As technology continues to connect us it will be interesting to see how the game continues to grow and if it moves away from the casinos and tables and more to keyboards and pixels.

Types of Online Games for Gaming Fun

Believe it or not, online gaming is the biggest thing today. Capitalizing on this huge market, app developers are constantly launching new games with the best graphics and highly engaging gameplay. Not just that, they design and create them in various formats to cater to a varied audience.

Now if you’re a diehard fan of online games, here’s a lowdown on the different genres; something you definitely need to know.

1. Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) – Gaming actually saw a spurt when it became social with the introduction of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). The thrill and adventure lies in competing with other players, playing simultaneously in the virtual world. They are called role playing games because you take up roles as you move through the game. Most of these are not free; you have to pay to access certain premium features or to level up.

2. Real time strategy – As the name suggests, real time strategy games call for an immediate response from the players; it is played in real time. They combine strategy and action and can be highly addictive. Real time strategy includes building the inventory by gathering resources, fighting armies, building base, creating units and exploring areas.

3. Action and adventure – They are set against a story in fantasy worlds or adventure lands. They are fast-paced and involve combats with enemies, puzzles, missions and quests. Completing successive missions result in the character leveling up and earning armor, weaponry, potions etc. Unlike MMORPG and real-time strategy formats, these are generally single-player ones.

4. Casino games – Casino games replicate the real world of the casinos on the World Wide Web. Many of these are played with real cash. It offers the excitement of playing in a casino. There are also real bonuses and prizes to be won.

5. Sports games – If you are a sports buff, sports games will grab your interest. The most popular ones on the web are football, basketball and baseball. They are organized into levels. You can choose to play along, against the computer or compete against another player. Many are modeled on actual sporting events.

6. Simulation games – Simulation games are real-life situations played out in game settings. Think about the number of farming games you’ve played, or that marvelous city you’ve built or the virtual people you’ve cared for, or the pet zoos you’ve managed. If you’re looking for action and adventure, simulation games do not fit the bill. They are about time management, strategy development, decision making. Nevertheless, simulation games promise you good time.

7. Shooting games – If you get a kick out of violent games, shooting games are the one for you. It involves shooting at targets be it objects, animals or people. These games require precision and skill.

In addition to the category of games mentioned above, there are arcade and board games, card games, strategy games and puzzles. Game developers are coming forth with various titles offering hours of unlimited fun and entertainment. Choose your favorite one and enjoy yourself.

The Importance of Online Casino Software

To ensure that their guests have an enjoyable experience, online casinos rely on gaming software to power their selection of games. This software is developed by third-party software companies like Playtech, Rival Gaming, Cryptologic, Vegas Technology, and Realtime Gaming, who are the “big five” in web casino software.

Software developers have to create online casino games that look and sound as much like the games in land casinos as possible. The games must also function reliably, and they must be fair and honest. Internet gambling sites typically sign multi-year licenses with software developers, and the developer is required to maintain and upgrade the games and is usually required to introduce new games periodically.

Right now there are three basic types of software used by casinos online: Flash-based instant games, downloadable games, and apps for handheld mobile devices.

Flash based games allow you to play directly from your internet browser. The big advantage to these games is that you don’t have to download anything, and you can basically play immediately once you have an account at the online casino.

Downloadable games require you to download the game onto your own computer. While there is a time factor involved in the download depending on the type of internet connection you have, downloadable software generally has better quality graphics and are more stable. There are large numbers of downloadable games to choose from.

Game apps for mobile devices like smart phones are the newest type of games that online casinos are getting into. These allow people to gamble from pretty much anywhere, freeing them from having to have a fixed internet connection in order to play.

The software and online gambling industries are currently undergoing a period of consolidation, with many mergers and acquisitions taking place. Casinos say that this will improve the player experience and make for bigger jackpots. In one case, one of the casino software giants, Playtech, is getting into the casino business itself, by purchasing Intelligent Gaming Solutions Ltd., a UK casino management systems company.

Playtech is an extremely successful casino online software company, experiencing gains of 26% in revenue in 2010 versus 2009. They recently introduced a number of very popular slots games, including Ironman 2 Slots, which looks like it will become iconic in the online slots world. They have also begun developing online sports betting software.

When you choose online casinos to play at, be sure that you check to see that they use one of the highly regarded sources for the software that powers the site. This information should be fairly prominently displayed on the home page of the website.

Software is the engine that drives the games on gambling websites, and it is what determines how well you enjoy your experience. Always ensure that the casino you visit uses reputable software providers and that the software is regularly audited by well-regarded third party auditing firms. This will give you the reassurance you need to have a great time, with confidence that the games are fair and that the payouts advertised on the site are accurate.

Mobile Casinos Are the Next Big Thing in Online Gambling

If you thought it was convenient to play blackjack online 24/7 at home, just wait till you try mobile gambling. The mobile casino is the next logical step in the online casino industry, bringing your favorite online games right to your iPhone, iPad, or Android phone. There are even a few older model phones that support mobile gaming, but for the most part, it's geared toward today's smart phones.

Mobile web casinos mean that you can play wherever you can get a 3G connection. Until recently, it was a big enough deal that you could gamble any time using your computer at home, but now you can pretty much gamble anywhere as well. There are three basic approaches to using your mobile device for online wagering: using the mobile version of the site itself; using an iPhone app; or using an Android app.

In many cases, you can use your smart phone simply by going to the mobile version of your favorite casino's website. If it doesn't already have a mobile version, it probably will soon: the market is just too lucrative to ignore. You would play on your handheld device just as you would on your computer at home. Everything's smaller, but you have access to the same games, same prizes, and same bonuses.

iPhone apps are slow in coming, though they do exist. The UK's Betfair, Ireland's Paddy Power, and Austria's Bwin are three European sites that offer iPhone betting apps specific to their sites. Betfair and Paddy Power apps work only in the UK and Ireland, while Bwin's only works in the UK and Austria, as of late 2010, though other countries are expected to be added rapidly.

Android mobile casino apps look like they will be more abundant, due to the non-proprietary nature of the Android operating system and the growing popularity of Android phones in Europe. The Irish Betdaq is staking its fortunes on Android apps, on the belief that while the iPhone has fueled the expansion of smart mobile devices in general, Androids may be the better long-term option, not least because getting an app approved for the iPhone Apps store is not easy.

There is little doubt about the future of mobile gambling. While currently only about 5% of the bets placed online are done on mobile devices, this number is expected to rocket to more like 50% over the next three to five years. A recent survey by Juniper Research on mobile gaming markets shows that mobile casinos are expanding rapidly, and could see mobile wagers exceeding $ 48 billion by the year 2015!

For the most part, the most popular games on mobile devices mirror the most popular games in internet gambling in general: slots, poker, and blackjack. An Android app titled "Video Poker," which is not a web casino game, did not take long to garner 50,000 downloads. Another non-casino game, "Cherry Slot Machine," is a free Android app and is also one of the top Android gaming apps. Clearly there is a hunger for these games, and it's just a matter of time before online casinos embrace mobile casino apps en masse.