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Online poker has been partly responsible for a dramatic increase in the number of poker players worldwide. In 2005 profits from online poker were estimated at around 200 million US dollar per month. Free poker online was played as early as the late 1990s. Shortly thereafter Planet Poker was the first online card room to offer real money games. Online poker rooms in the online casinos are a lot cheaper to sustain because they have much smaller overhead costs.

The major online poker sites offer varying features to attract new players. One common feature is to offer so called satellite tournaments by which the online winners gain entry to real-life poker tournaments. Another strategy for attracting beginners is the offering of free-rolls and also allowing the players to play for low stakes. This is especially important as traditional sites for playing poker may be intimidating for novice players. Another disadvantage of live poker rooms is that they are often located in geographically disparate locations. At the same time traditional casinos are not willing to promote poker because although their time charge is high, the costs of running a poker room are even higher. As with other forms of online gambling, many critics question whether the operators of such games-especially those located in countries with a different judicial system from most of their players-might be engaging in fraud themselves. Online poker rooms may be more vulnerable to certain types of fraud, especially collusion between players. However, they have collusion detection abilities that do not exist in traditional or live casinos. Online poker rooms can check players' IP addresses in order to prevent players at the same household from playing on the same tables. Internet discussion forums are full of allegations of non-random card dealing, possibly to favor house-employed players or prevent new players from losing so quickly that they become discouraged. Others argue that the rake is sufficiently large that such abuses would be unnecessary and foolish.

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