This Day in Historyish: September 2001

A New Era of Poker Is Born

by , Sep 11, 2010 | 1:57 pm

On this day nine years ago — September 11, 2001 — cards got in the air for a new online poker site called PokerStars.

The best multitable tournaments, player loyalty rewards, stats, and seeing your own picture at the table were the vision unleashed on the world on September 11th. Click to look back at the site as it was then.

It was just for play money at first, but the timing would prove fortuitous. People seemed to enjoy the software and were telling their friends … as online poker seemed to provide a much-needed escape from the ever-more-difficult to swallow news of the day.

Less than a month later, America would launch made-for-TV strikes against Al Qaeda training camps and Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan. International travel had ground to a virtual halt, and even the mail came with threats of Anthrax. At a time when Americans weren’t sure who was their friend or enemy, there was a certain peace in being able to sit down at a table with people from countries all across the world and play a game. The “PokerStars Internet Poker Room” would throw a big $5,000 freeroll that drew 836 players — making it the biggest online poker tournament in history (won by a player with the screen name “Kyle”.)

PokerStars would begin offering real-money play in December … with players able to transfer funds via Paypal, Firepay, Mastercard, and Visa … and a few months after that, in 2002, would start something called WCOOP, the World Championship of Online Poker.

Around the time of the second WCOOP, the Pentagon began proudly championing its “Iraq’s Most Wanted” deck of cards, which had the TV news regularly discussing why kings and queens were better than 5s, for example, and perhaps subconsciously reminding people they could be playing online poker. Sure enough, with war in Iraq now raging, the players came in droves, shattering records from the previous year.

It seemed without a doubt now that PokerStars had a real moneymaker on its hands.

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