When the first online poker companies launched, there was a lot of excitement over the apparent fusion of “video poker” – an electronic game seen in casinos, and live poker, which is affected by the strategy, experience and gut feeling of other live players. While you may be sitting alone playing online poker, you’ll probably want to analyse the behavioural traits of the other players, though you won’t be able to take note of any little facial twinges! Every online poker game will have at least two people, but most organisations will run tournaments where thousands of real people enter.
One of the main things distinguishing online poker from going to a casino is that you’re never really playing “against the house”, or making bets with the hosting company, but betting against normal (or not so much) people like you. The company providing the software and “hosting” these games makes their money by taking a small cut of every pot that is played before the large majority goes to the winner. With this kind of organisation, the house never really gambles at all. This distinction also separates online poker from your run of the mill “online casino”, where you and the host are natural enemies. In online poker, the house is more like a neutral third party, and the other players are whatever you make them.