Online poker first exploded in popularity in the late 1990s. It experienced meteoric growth in a legal vacuum, and only began to see some regulatory oversight in 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed. This largely prohibited offshore poker sites, but allowed licensed operators to offer regulated games in states that recognized their legitimacy.

A reputable site will be licensed by a gaming commission and use top-of-the-line encryption methods to keep player information secure. They will also regularly undergo audits by a third party to maintain their integrity. In addition, players are encouraged to report suspicious activities to the poker site for thorough investigation.

The best online poker sites feature a large variety of tournaments, cash game options and bonuses. They also feature a user-friendly interface that makes finding the type of game you’re looking for easy. America’s Cardroom, for instance, offers a wide selection of poker variations, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hi/Lo, along with a generous welcome bonus and low rakes.

The pace of play online can be faster than live, and the competition often more diverse and experienced. This can create a more intense, exciting experience for the players. However, it can also lead to larger swings in the short term and artificially increase the perceived variance of the game. This is why it is important to understand the game, and to learn a few strategies to improve your odds of winning. Some of the most popular tools include hand database programs that can save, sort and recall all of your hands played, as well as a variety of odds, equity and variance calculators.