Chances are you already know someone who has played online poker for real money. That's how much the game is grown during the first part of the 21st Century, especially after the explosive burst of popularity it received from the invention of televised Texas hold 'em tournaments. Though the legal situation surrounding the game remains in flux in the Unites States, it still has room for further expansion in markets like Asia. Most online poker rooms require a software download to experience their full range of features, but some popular sites like Party Poker run no download poker games that can be played with only a browser.
Online poker games are faster paced versions of live card games. Texas hold 'em is the most famous version of poker played on the internet, though seven card stud, Omaha and a number of other games can also easily be found. Online poker rooms use random number generators to simulate the dealing of cards and are licensed and checked for fairness in much the same way as online casinos. The primary attractions of the online game are its speed, as many more hands can be dealt per hour than in physical poker, and the fact that it can be played anywhere. Real money cash games are available for stakes ranging from very small to quite large, and tournaments are run 24 hours a day in almost every structure imaginable. Some online poker rooms are standalone sites, while others are parts of larger online gambling operations. Networks of sites running the same software bring larger pools of players together to help ensure a wide selection of games at all times.
As mentioned above, online poker rooms have robust sets of features that generally require downloading a software client to enjoy. This can be a problem for players who don't use Windows-based computers or Macs, but no download poker games are becoming more and more widespread. Cash games, Sit and Go tournaments and full fledged multi-table tourneys can all be played in browser-based form, though usually without access to things like statistical tracking and some of the graphical flourishes of the download versions. No download games are perfect for playing at lower stakes or while dropping in for a quick game when away from your home computer.