The most attractive feature of online poker is that it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and that you can always find someone to play against, as tens of thousands of real opponents are always out there waiting for an online challenge. And these are real players who play for real money, which means that online poker doesn't differ so much from its offline counterpart in terms of the game itself, but it is much more accessible. Moreover, the numbers of people against which you play are much more impressive than in casual poker - since the start of online poker in 1998, player traffic in online poker rooms has increased more than twenty times with an yearly turnover being more than one billion dollars, and growing.
Is it legal? If you are a US citizen, it is not clear whether or not playing online poker is legal. Although it is not legal to establish an online gaming company in the United States, no private individual has been charged for playing poker online. Since establishing online gambling companies is illegal in US, all poker rooms operate outside the United States territory. For non-US residents, there is no such problem as legal issues when playing online poker, since it is not prohibited to gamble online in most of the European countries.
So, what makes online poker so popular? First of all, it is the saying that goes: "Any two cards can win", which means that anybody can beat everyone, in a game of poker (at least in Texas Hold'em). And although the luck is what most of the inexperienced players consider to be the backbone of poker, the skill is also an extremely important factor. Although the events at the World Series Of Poker (WSOP) in 2003, when Chris Moneymaker, an amateur poker player, won the World Champion title, showed that luck remains almost as important as player's skill.
Another important factor when considering online poker is its speed compared to offline poker. While online, you can even play multiple variations of poker at multiple tables at once, against as many players as the client software supports. What is more, players don't have to leave their homes to play with people from around the world, which, when mixed with speed you get from playing at multiple tables at once, gives the player an opportunity to get poker experience and maximize maximize his/her profits much faster. You have to admit, the fame of online poker lies in its convenience.
However, even though online poker is very convenient to play and has a lot of obvious advantages when compared to live poker, there are also severe drawbacks, such as the almost non-existant social factor and the inability to experience poker in the material plane where the player gets to see real cards, real faces and real bluffing, which makes the game much less enjoyable. There is also a piece of advice for every online poker player – even if you play online poker exclusively, do not hesitate to try and practice live poker every once in a while, as it gives you another kind of experience, and live poker practice is essencial if you wish to become a good poker player one day.